Undergraduate Courses in Indigenous Studies

Fall 2021

Native American Literature

An analysis of the written and oral literary traditions developed by Native Americans. American Indian and First Nation authors will be read in the context of the global phenomenon of indigeneity and settler colonialism, and in dialogue with each other. Through readings, discussions, and guest speakers, we will consider linguistic, historical, and cultural approaches. This course offers an occasion to reflect on, critique, and contest settler colonialism, or the dispossession of land and waters and the attempt to eliminate Indigenous people.

Instructors: Sarah Rivett

Spring 2021

Advanced Seminar in American Studies: Multiethnic American Short Stories: Tales We Tell Ourselves

Short stories have been used by writers to make concise, insightful comments about American national identity and individuality. Taken up by African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and many others, the genre has been used to convey experiences with immigration and assimilation, discrimination and oppression, generational divides, and interactions across difference. Examination of such stories deepens our understanding of America’s multiethnic landscape. In this seminar, we will explore stories written by a diverse group of writers to consider the ties that both link and divide multiethnic America.

Instructors: Tessa Lowinske Desmond

Native American and Indigenous Studies: An Introduction

This course will introduce students to the comparative study of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. We will take a broad hemispheric approach instead of focusing solely on the experiences of any particular native community, allowing students to both acquaint themselves with the diversity of Indigenous communities and better understand the multitude of Indigenous experiences — or, what it means to be Indigenous — across regional contexts. How do processes of imperial expansionism and settler colonialisms shape the conditions within which Indigenous Americans now live? How do native peoples relate to settler colonial governing bodies today?

Instructors: Tiffany Cherelle (Cain) Fryer

Topics in 18th-Century Literature: North American ‘Indians’ in Transatlantic Contexts

Anishinaabe writer Gerald Vizenor notes the word “indian” is a “colonial enactment” that “has no referent in tribal languages or cultures.” But as a trope it has long provided Western culture with a vision of romantic primitivism, of savage cruelty, or of the doomed victims of colonial expansion. This course will examine 18th-century transatlantic representations of North American Indigenous people and consider the cultural functions of these representations and their role in settler colonialism. In addition to literary texts, we will also examine art and visual culture, collected objects, and philosophical writing from the period.

Instructors: Robbie John Richardson

Reading Islands: Caribbean Waters, the Archipelago, and its Narratives

The Caribbean is an archipelago made up of islands that both link and separate the Americas — islands that have weathered various waves of colonization, migration, and revolution. How do narratives of the Caribbean represent the collision of political forces and natural environments? Looking to the many abyssal histories of the Caribbean, we will explore questions of indigeneity, colonial contact, iterations of enslavement, and the plantation matrix in literary texts. How do island-writers evoke gender and a poetics of relation that exceeds tourist desire and forceful extraction?

Instructors: Christina León

Archiving the American West

Working with Princeton’s Western Americana collections, students will explore what archives are and how they are made. Who controls what’s in them? How do they shape what historians write? Using little studied collections, students will produce online “exhibitions” for the Princeton University Library website, and research potential acquisitions for the library collections. Significant time will be devoted to in-class workshops focused on manuscript and visual materials (all digitized for the class). Special visitors will include curators, archivists, librarians, and dealers.

Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss

Fall 2020

Introduction to Indigenous Literatures

This course reads Indigenous literatures to reflect on, critique, and contest settler colonialism, or the dispossession of land and waters and the attempt to eliminate Indigenous people. Students engage in projects that impact Indigenous studies initiatives at Princeton by building partnerships with Indigenous communities, locally, nationally, and internationally. Community-engaged projects and readings by Native American and Aboriginal Canadian authors will connect Indigenous histories across time and space invite new ways of thinking about the past, present, and future of the Americas and the world.

Instructors: Sarah Rivett

Spring 2020

Topics in Global Race and Ethnicity: The Post-Colonial Imagination and Africana Thought

What does the “post-colonial” mean? In this course, we will engage the literary and theoretical production of formerly colonized subjects from parts of Africa and the Caribbean, as we seek to determine what the post-colonial imagination might look like. The emphasis will be on close readings of works that emerge from the crucible of the Black Atlantic’s “encounter” with European and American colonialism, as we question how the identities of formerly colonized subjects inform their views of the world.

Instructors: Kevin A. Wolfe

History of the American West

This course examines the history of the place we now call the American West, from pre-contact to the present. Our primary focus will be on the struggles between and among peoples to control resources and political power, and to shape the ways in which western history is told. We will pay particular attention to the role of visual and popular culture in shaping the national imagination of the region.

Instructors: Martha A. Sandweiss

Fall 2019

Multiethnic American Short Stories: Tales We Tell Ourselves

Short stories have been used by writers to make concise, insightful comments about American national identity and individuality. Taken up by African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, and many others, the genre has been used to convey experiences with immigration and assimilation, discrimination and oppression, generational divides, and interactions across difference. Examination of such stories deepens our understanding of America’s multiethnic landscape. In this seminar, we will explore stories written by a diverse group of writers to consider the ties that both link and divide multiethnic America.

Instructors: Tessa Lowinske Desmond

Native American and Indigenous Studies: An Introduction

This course will introduce students to the comparative study of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. We will take a broad hemispheric approach instead of focusing solely on the experiences of any particular native community, allowing students to both acquaint themselves with the diversity of indigenous communities and better understand the multitude of indigenous experiences — or, what it means to be Indigenous — across regional contexts. How do processes of imperial expansionism and settler colonialisms shape the conditions within which indigenous Americans now live? How do native peoples relate to settler colonial governing bodies today?

Instructors: Tiffany Cain