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The Teaching ArchiveA New History for Literary Study$
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Rachel Sagner Buurma and Laura Heffernan

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226735948

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226736273.001.0001

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Simon J. Ortiz, Native American Arts (1978)

Simon J. Ortiz, Native American Arts (1978)

Chapter:
(p.182) Chapter 7 Simon J. Ortiz, Native American Arts (1978)
Source:
The Teaching Archive
Author(s):

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Laura Heffernan

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226736273.003.0008

This chapter follows Simon J. Ortiz, an Acoma Pueblo poet, critic, and professor, as he developed his introductory survey of Native American literature between 1977 and 1979 for the Ethnic Studies program at the College of Marin in the California community college system. Before Marin, Ortiz had taught at several Native student-serving institutions, and wrote about course development and teaching in his journals. At Marin, he reckoned with how to teach Native American literature to non-Native students and with how to convey the diverse range of Native American literatures in a single-semester survey. After teaching a first version of the course—a traditional survey that moved from pre-contact oral literature through anthropologist-mediated life writing to the “renaissance of Native American literature”—Ortiz radically rewrote his syllabus. In his revised syllabus, each week triangulated traditional oral story, historical narrative, and contemporary fiction, replacing the traditional survey’s search for an authentic, pre-contact oral tradition with a vision of post-contact years as the center of Native American national literary tradition. Ortiz theorized this classroom-tested idea of a literature of survivance and continuance in his famous 1981 essay “Towards a National Indian Literature.”

Keywords:   Simon J. Ortiz, Native American literature, ethnic studies, community college, oral literature, survey course, Native American Renaissance, N. Scott Momaday, poetry, College of Marin

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