Seminar in Pacific Literatures: Folklore and Literature in the Pacific

ENG 771 (1)

Spring 2022

Seminar in Pacific Literature

Professor kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui

Mondays, 3:15-5:45pm

Online synchronus


Literature and Folklore of Oceania


Folklore and oral traditions are a key component of Indigenous cultures and literatures across Moana Nui (Oceania, the Pacific), and in a modern (20th century to present) context, folklore and literature are often interwoven, forming the foundation for Indigenous wonderworks, literary nationalism, and Indigenous Futurisms. Multiple modes of “translation” and adaptation—Indigenous languages to colonial ones (English, French, Spanish) and post colonial pidgins and creoles, orality and performance to writing, live performance to digitized media, among others. This course explores the intersection between folklore and literature in Oceania. A key question that underpins this course is: How does traditional (Indigenous) stories of the people (folklore) influence, inform, and intersect with Pacific literature, and subsequent performance of “text”? Texts will be primarily written in or translated into English, and composed by Indigenous Pacific writers. The course will begin with an overview of the transition from orature or “oral literature” to writing, and an introduction to Folklore Studies and Indigenous Studies, utilizing key methods of study and research relevant in each, with a focus on folklore texts in Oceania. The course will then turn to examining the representation of folklore in contemporary literature in multiple genres (novel, short story, poetry, drama), and film, as well as other modes of performance.




Altiery, Mason. The Last Village in Kona.

Archibald, Joanna. Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology.

Avia, Tusiata. Blood Clot.

Bacchilega, Cristina. Legendary Hawai’i.

Desanges, Sosthene. Ash & Vanille, book 1

hoʻomanawanui, kuʻualoha. Voices of Fire: Reweaving the Literary Lei of Pele and Hiʻiaka Literature.

Ihimaera, Witi. Whale Rider.

Kamali, Darren. Squid Out of Water.

McDougall, Brandy Nalani. Finding Meaning, Kaona and Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.

Wendt Young, Lani. The Covenant Keeper.


Class Requirements and Procedures


–Class participation through regular attendance and in-class discussions

–Lead a class discussion (5-10 min.) on an assigned reading

–A short essay (5-6 pages, or 1200-1500 words) or equivalent (annotated bibliography, blog entry)

–A final research paper related to the course theme (10-12 pages, or 2500-3000 words)

–An oral presentation on the final research paper

–Library Research Workshop, Hawaiʻi/Pacific Collection, and related written assignment




At the end of the semester, students should be familiar with selected key texts demonstrating an intersection of folklore and literature across Oceania; have an understanding of the development of the field; be able to identify and apply Indigenous theories and emergent narratives of critical discourse in reading and interpreting Oceanic literary texts; develop more complex understandings of the dynamics of cultural translation between the practices and aesthetic concerns of traditional forms of oral and written expression and those of contemporary western-based or western-influenced literature and other media; and demonstrate advanced critical analysis in written and oral formats.