Introduction to Literature: Culture and Literature: Queer Indigenous Literature

ENG 272: Intro to Literature and Culture

Queer Indigenous Literature 

Spring 2022, MWF 10:30-11:20


Instructor: Ren Pruitt


Office Hours: Monday, 11:30 – 12:30 or by appointment

Email is the best way to reach me. You may not receive an immediate response to your email, especially if you contact me late at night, immediately before class meets, etc., but I’ll try to respond in a timely manner. (I also expect that you will check your UHM email daily and respond to emails from me or your classmates within 24 hours.) I’m always happy to see you during office hours and hope you’ll stop by with questions or ideas you want to discuss.


Course Description: 


“To know that there are others like me; to have representations of queer life that aren’t solely and stubbornly white. Also to have a glimpse into the future, to have an idea of what’s to come…I think that this book is a call to arms of sorts. It is a manifesto, a prayer and an instruction manual for something like a queer Indigenous future. “

Billy Ray Belcourt on This Wound is a World


Screenshot of tweet: 
fka jaye simpson @fka_jayesimpson . Sep 5
"you cannot tell me poetry isn't revolutionary. Poetry and expressive language has saved thousands of Indigenous foster kids & that alone is a blatant defiance against our very own genocide"


We are now in a period of great expansion and growth of Queer Indigenous Literature. Maurice Kenny (Mowhawk), Beth Brant (Mowhawk), Paula Gunn Allen (Laguna Pueblo), Chrystos (Menominee), and other such formative queer Indigenous writers have guided us to this moment where there is a beautiful bloom of new, celebrated Two-Spirit Indigiqueer authors being published and widely read. Similar to literary period of the 1960s  through the 1980s Geary Hobson (Cherokee-Quapaw/Chickasaw) identified in his anthology The Remembered Earth, the “flurry of literary activity” we are witnessing now, and then, is a renaissance, “much more than a ‘boom’ or a ‘fad’… it is renewal, it is continuance, and it is remembering.” 

This course stands as an exploration of that renaissance, renewal, and remembering, We will look forwards and backwards, exploring the radical diversity of voices of  2sMLGBTQIA+ Indigenous writers 

Some questions we will explore as we journey through this course:  In what way have our stories and the telling of our stories changed? How does telling, reading, and sharing queer Indigenous stories engage us in acts toward resurgence and  decolonization? In what ways do we engage with queer/Indigenous futurity and how do we speak to our ancestors? How does queer Indigenous literature address imperialism, racism, colonialism, capitalism, and heteropatriarchy? How does queer Indigenous literature transform our fields, our relations, our genealogies, our knowledges, and our spirits? 

Learning objectives for ENG 272:

● Students will improve their ability to ask questions of and to read, analyze, and interpret complex literary texts, using relevant literary terminology critically and creatively.

● Students will augment their knowledge of how literature is organized by historical periods, genres, cultures, and cultural formations.

● Students will improve their ability to express ideas by organizing, developing and supporting a description, analysis, or argument in written formats, within the conventions of academic writing.

● Students will produce a significant amount of writing such that the course fulfills the

requirements of its mandatory W Focus designation (i.e. 4,000 words).

Required texts* (good to have hard personal copies, but these are all available through the UH library as well): 

  1. Whitehead, Joshua. Love after the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit & Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020.

  2. Whitehead, Joshua. Jonny Appleseed: A Novel. Arsenal Pulp Press, 2021.

  3. Driskill, Qwo-Li, et al. Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature. University of Arizona Press, 2011.

  4. Gomez, Jewelle. The Gilda Stories. City Lights, 2016.

  5. McMullin, Dan Taulapapa, et al. Samoan Queer Lives. Little Island Press, 2018.

Other Readings available via Laulima

*this list is tentative and subject to change


3 Close Readings 

1 Short essay (4-5 pgs) 

1 Long Essay (7-8 pgs) 

Decolonial Collaborative Zine Assignment 

Class Participation and other work