Native America, Early America
General Catalog Course Title:
Research Seminar
Terms Offered:
Spring 2013
Fall 2010

In 1705, the colonist Robert Beverley introduced his History and Present State of Virginia with the proud declaration: “I am an Indian, and don’t pretend to be exact in my Language.” What might such a proclamation have meant, with its complicated invocations of nativity, authenticity, identity, language, authority, place, and difference? With these kind of questions in mind, the seminar will explore the deeply contested cultural terrain that existed between Early America and Native America from the beginnings of English colonization to the era of Indian Removal. Historical and literary representations of the “Indian” powerfully expressed how “American” traits passed between native inhabitants and creolized colonists, and at what cost. Readings will include a wide range of narratives and counter-narratives: early ethnographies, phrase books, captivity narratives, laws and letters, prophecies and petitions, memoirs, sermons, and novels. We will think about the ambiguity and brutality of racial categories; literacy and the reconstruction of oral cultures; religious modes of conversion and resistance; land possession and the mythic “frontier"; the racialization of a National Self; the rhetoric of historical inevitability; and how all these messy processes were concretized, romanticized, or repressed in historical retrospect. Authors will include Thomas Harriot, Mary Rowlandson, Roger Williams, William Apess, James Fenimore Cooper, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Black Hawk, Handsome Lake and others. Students will read widely in both primary and secondary literature, and will write two short papers and a final research paper.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.