Wampum to Rap: Intro to Native Rhetorics

“Mountain Chief, Blackfeet War Leader” by Terrance Guardipee, Siksika (Blackfeet), 2008. (photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

This course will examine a variety of critical approaches to Native American discursive practice– from historical texts to contemporary media, from removal to modern issues of language revitalization and land rights. Students will be challenged to think critically beyond their ideological and intellectual boundaries, broadening their understanding of cultures, histories, literacies, and rhetorics through textual interpretation and awareness. Students will engage with the ideas of “rhetorical sovereignty” (Lyons) and “survivance” (Vizenor) within Native American discourse, including modern examples of made-material, musical, and remixed rhetorics and literacies. Engaging with the work of prominent Native American rhetoric scholars, such as Ellen Cushman and Malea Powell, among several others, students will work toward an understanding of rhetoric and literacies as conceptualized within Native American cultures. Students will perhaps even trouble the term “rhetoric” when defining Native American discursive practices.

Major subjects include stereotype, made rhetorics, media and remix, as well as contemporary and historical conversations. In this same strand, this course will include discussion of the visual, aural, spatial, and other various modes and mediums of presentation and composition as they are present within Native American rhetorics and literacies. By binding together critical analysis and rhetorical production, students will gain consciousness of the various histories of Native peoples while observing issues of Native identity, stereotype, racism, politics, land rights, and sovereignty in the United States.

Major subject areas include stereotype, made-rhetorics, media rhetoric and remix, contemporary and historical conversations, as well as other subject matters. The major assignments have been created to challenge students to think outside of their scope, while providing some engagement with the Native community at large. Furthermore, as this course will be including discussion of the visual, aural, spatial, and other various modes and mediums of presentation and composition, as such there will be media components to the course, with quite a bit of online engagement.

Sample Syllabus