English in Hawaii

Roland Barthes writes that “Language is never innocent or
free of ideology,” and the role English has played in Hawai‘i is a testament to
this claim. In this course, we will trace the history of “English in Hawai‘i”
chronologically and analyze its introduction and influence in terms of its
impact socially, politically, and culturally. Any conversation about English in
Hawai‘i also necessitates a discussion of Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English. We
will thus also interrogate attitudes about both Standard English and Pidgin
that have been promoted and perpetuated to stratify society, oppress certain
ethic groups, and further colonizing efforts. Both English and Pidgin have,
however, also been wielded by people of different ethnic backgrounds to counter
oppression and assert cultural affirmation, and throughout the course we will
return to examples of how and when both languages have been used as a means of
resistance. Several scholars will visit our class to offer more in-depth
insights as to how English in Hawai‘i has had an impact on different ethnic
groups in Hawaiʻi. The course will ultimately entail students examining their
own attitudes about language use, how those attitudes compare to what is
promoted in the wider community, and the ways in which English is currently
being used in public texts and to what ends.



  • An
    in-class presentation
  • 2 short
    paper (4-5 pages), one involving some “field work” in the community
  • 7-10 page
    final paper on a topic of choice related to themes covered in class
  • A final


Required Texts:

All course readings will be made available in a
course packet or uploaded to a class website. Authors will represent a range of
disciplines including Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Hawaiian Literature,
Indigenous Studies, Political Science, and Second Language Studies and
Linguistics, and will include (but will not be limited to): Derek Bickerton,
Kevin Kawamoto, Larry Kimura, Kent Sakoda, Charlene Sato, John Reinecke, Ronald
Takaki, Queen Lili‘uokalani, ku‘ualoha ho‘omanawanui, Lisa Kanae, Brandy Nālani
Mc Dougall, Rodney Morales, Milton Murayama, Noenoe Silva, Lee Tanouch