Introduction to Literature: Literary History: Micronesia: Land & Sea Stories

ENG 270(002)
Instructor: Leiana Naholowaa
Time: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Crn: 72395
Focus: DL,NI,WI


The literary history of Micronesia is rooted in oral traditions, and in this course, we will listen to audio recordings and view multimedia of traditional and contemporary stories when available. We will read a wide selection of traditional stories (usually known as myths, legends, and folklore), poetry, short stories, and essays in various published collections from the region and in the diaspora.

This class is divided into two main themes. In “Stories of the Sea,” we will examine stories of worlds under the ocean, as well as stories of seafaring, which remains a thriving practice in Micronesia. A Carolinian master navigator from Micronesia known as Papa Mau Piailug had guided the Polynesian Voyaging Society from Hawaiʻi to Tahiti in 1976 and helped the region reclaim indigenous seafaring. We will also observe the emergence in contemporary times of stories related to nuclear testing, climate change, and rising sea levels that affect the most vulnerable communities in Micronesia and the Pacific.

In “Stories of the Land,” we will examine stories of the body, and the people’s connection to the land through their ancestors. Indigenous values of caring for one another and for the land and how this care circulates and returns are seen in traditional storytelling. Modern threats to the land in the form of militarization and commercialization will also be discussed as well as the discrimination of people from Micronesia outside of their home islands. In a letter to the Honolulu Police Department from the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai’i on July 5, 2020, it states that police were “30 times more likely to arrest a Micronesian person and five times more likely to arrest a Black or Samoan person for violations of the COVID-19 orders than to arrest a white person.” This discrimination that Micronesians experienced in the Pacific that became exacerbated during the recent pandemic lockdowns will be discussed in relation to stories of community and discord.

Texts (subject to change):

Traditional stories of Micronesia (various publications of myths, legends, and folklore, provided by instructor)

Poetry and short stories (various anthologies, provided by instructor or electronically available at Hamilton Library)

Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, 2017.

Indigenous Literatures of Micronesia, edited by Evelyn Flores and Emelihter Kihleng, 2019.

Mariquita – Revisited by Chris Perez Howard, 2019.


response essays, short presentation of selected readings and contribution of class discussion questions, close reading paper, literary analyses papers