Sem in Hawaiian Lit (Kanaka Maoli) (LSE/CSAP/HAP)

Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian)
Non-Fiction Writing and Colonialism


writing was introduced to Hawaiʻi in 1820, Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians)
enthusiastically embraced western literacy. 
Prolific readers, writers, editors and publishers, by the end of the 19th
century, over 75 Hawaiian newspapers had been established, containing all
genres of writing.  While Hawaiian
literature is included in University of Hawaiʻi courses, the focus is on
creative works, from folklore to contemporary writing and multimedia
texts.  There is over a century’s worth
of non-fiction writing by and about Kanaka Maoli deserving of close study.

            This course will explore major works
of multi-genre Kanaka Maoli non-fiction from the early nineteenth century to
the present within the historical and interpretive contexts of
colonialism.  Texts for the course will
be multi-media, and include autobiography, biography, memoir, essay, journal
excerpts, travel writing, essays, interviews, testimonies, audio recordings,
and documentaries primarily written in or translated into English.  Students with a Hawaiian language background
are encouraged to conduct research with primary Hawaiian language sources, such
as the vast Hawaiian language newspaper archives.

            We will examine pertinent themes
which surface in these works, such as aloha ʻāina (patriotism or Hawaiian
nationalism, eco-consciousness, love for the land), colonial resistance, and
perpetuation of cultural language and arts. 
We will look at traditional Hawaiian modes of non-fiction, such as
moʻolelo (history), moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy), mele inoa (name songs), kanikau (laments),
and connection to wahi pana (storied placed). 
We will also examine the transition from oral tradition to written
literature, as well as the shift from the indigenous (Hawaiian) to colonial
(English) language, paying attention to the interplay between these factors,
including changes to indigenous non-fiction. 
Some questions we will examine include: What are common themes in Kanaka
Maoli non-fiction writing?  What are the
contributing factors to Kanaka Maoli focusing on these themes?  What can we learn from Kanaka Maoli
non-fiction writing?  How does Kanaka
Maoli non-fiction contribute to Hawaiian literature as a whole?  How does it contribute to Hawaiian culture
and society in the past and present? How does it (can it) influence the future
in areas such as Hawaiian independence? To a better informed Hawaiian lāhui?

Course objectives:

  • Familiarize students with a substantial range of Kanaka
    Maoli non-fiction writing over a period of approximately 150 years, and
    read these texts as cultural, political, and historical productions as
    well as informative texts
  • Identify and apply indigenous and other critical
    theories to the reading of these texts
  • Develop a deeper understanding of the role of
    non-fiction texts in the broader field of Hawaiian literature

This course is
designed to help students meet the following objectives outlined in the current
English Department Graduate Curriculum Maps:

  •  Provide
    awareness of  the contributions of  Oceanic cultures (specifically, Hawaiian
    culture) to the formation of  the field
    of English Studies in the 21st Century
  • Readings
    and written assignments will help students understand advanced research methods
  • Through
    research, writing assignments and class presentations, students will be able to
    demonstrate advanced critical analysis and place their own scholarly work
    within broader critical conversations, and advance research skills for
    book-length publication
  • Contribute
    to student’s ability to map, historicize and contextualize 3 specialized
  • The
    focus on Hawaiian non-fiction will assist students’ understanding of the
    discipline of English today and its relationship to other disciplines such as
    history, political science, Hawaiian studies, and indigenous studies as a whole

Course Requirements:

  • Weekly written responses on Laulima to the assigned
    reading and films (500 words average each)
  • a short paper (8-10 pages on a topic related to Kanaka
    Maoli non-fiction that can be related to your final project topic; due
  • lead one class discussion on a primary text
  • an oral presentation on your final research topic
  • completion of final research project (15+ pages of
    academic, original research-based writing; fieldwork within a Hawaiian
    community; another component, such as creative writing, a recorded
    interview, a film, visual images, or use of multimedia, is optional)
  • class participation, including regular attendance

Primary texts:

  • Bowman, Sally Jo Keanuenue. The Heart of Being Hawaiian.
  • Desha, Stephen. Kamehameha
    and His Warrior Kekūhaupi‘o.
  • Holt, John Dominis. On
    Being Hawaiian; Recollections.
  • Irwin, Bernice Piʻilani. I Knew Queen Liliʻuokalani.
  • Kauhi, Emma. The
    Story of Kapaʻahu.
  • Koʻolau, Piʻilani. The
    True Story of Kaluaikoʻolau.
  • Liliʻuokalani. Hawaii’s
    Story by Hawaii’s Queen.
  • Maunupau, Thomas. A
    Visit to Kaupō, Maui.
  • Nalaielua, Henry. No
    Footprints in the Sand: A Memoir of Kalaupapa.
  • Trask, Haunani-Kay. From
    a Native Daughter.
  • Warrior, Robert, Tribal
    Secrets: Recovering American Indian Intellectual Traditions
  • A course reader