Lit of the Pacific (XL PACS 371)

In 1964 Kanaka Maoli writer John Dominis Holt wrote: “they tell us
we are all kinds of things, but what do we think of ourselves?” Taking his
words as a challenge and inspiration, and through our engagement with a range
of literary and other creative texts, in this course we will explore what
Hawaiian and Pacific people “think of ourselves.” What does writing look like
in the Pacific – who’s doing it, and how?

How is our view of Pacific Literature both expanded and shaped by
where we are? We will not only consider the Pacific as a region but we will
also continually return to an exploration of the relationship between Hawai‘i
and the Pacific region. The course is therefore structured around three
modules: reading the Pacific in Hawai‘i, reading around the Pacific, and
reading Pacifically. The first module focuses on reading in specific place,
starting with Kanaka Maoli writers and then turning to Pacific writers whose
Indigenous links lie elsewhere in the region but who live in Hawai‘i. We then
read around the Pacific region, engaging texts by writers from each of the
three major cultural groups of the region as well as a text (in English
translation) from the Francophone (French speaking) Pacific. Finally, we will
consider what it might mean to read regionally – Oceanically, as suggested by
Wendt and Hau’ofa – and focus our discussions by reading one specific novel
from Hawai‘i; by the end of the course we will be ready to extend our
discussion from what the Pacific looks like from the perspective of Hawai‘i to
what Hawai‘i looks like from the perspective of the Pacific.

Required reading not listed below will be available to download and
print via Laulima. While our focus in class will be on Anglophone creative and
critical texts, students who are able to read outside English are encouraged to
use their research and shorter writing projects to pay attention to texts in
other Pacific languages as well.

Assessment will include a two short formal papers, informal
semi-structured writing assingments, two group presentations, a ‘taking it to
the people’ assignment, and a take-home exam.

Kaui Hart
Hemmings. The Descendants

Kihleng, My Urohs

Tusitala Marsh, Fast Talking PI

Nalani McDougall & Craig Santos Perez, Undercurrent[download from

Spitz, Island of Shattered Dreams

Albert Wendt, From
Manoa to a Ponsonby Garden

Wineera, Into the Luminous Tide: Pacific Poems