English 2520 – Indigenous Women Writers
Dr. Sandra Muse Isaacs
Final Essay Assignment (25%)
Final Essay – Topics & Guidelines
Due Wednesday, November 27, 2019 in class
This final essay is worth 25% of your total grade. Please use at least one scholarly source, and no more than two, and attach a complete Works Cited with your essay. This paper must be at least 1,100 words and no more than 1,300. Use MLA format including double-spacing, page numbering, and Times New Roman 12 font only. Please write in proper language (no contractions, exaggerations or colloquialisms). You’re welcome to print front and back to save paper, but do be sure to staple. There is no need for a separate title page; please put your name only in top left corner, and then the title of paper centered next line down – do not call it simply Research Paper, but create a brief title. Email submissions will not be accepted.
You are also allowed to do a comparative, close-reading essay with or without research. In this case, you are to use two or three works of literature.
You’re encouraged to develop your own research topic connected to our course readings, but you must submit it in writing and meet with me for approval.
Try to use works of literature that you did not use in the short essay.
1. The landscape and the natural environment are predominant themes in much of Indigenous literature, and the Women especially are connected to the land. Working with at least three authors, explore the significance of land and its relationship to the cultural survival of Indigenous peoples. How are these relationships described, and to what effect?
2. Each of our three novels (Shell Shaker, The Marrow Thieves, and Rose’s Run) and several of the short stories have one or more strong female protagonists and /or antagonists. Choose at least one and no more than two of these characters, and discuss the way the author has constructed her in terms of either adhering closely to or violating the norms and values of their particular Indigenous culture and community. Discuss how those personal actions and choices either disrupt or reinforce the cultural continuum for their family or community.
3. Indigenous beliefs regarding the Spiritual world come into play in many works of Native literature. Examining any one of our books this term, discuss and analyze how spiritualism and beliefs particular to that Native group play a role within the storyline. Be as specific as possible.
4. Examine how at least two Indigenous women writers use the power of their female voice to address the injustices or cultural damage perpetrated by the colonizer. You may use one novel and one of our Blackboard readings (a short story, poem, essay, or speech), or two readings.
5. Motherhood and raising children are a vital part of Indigenous womanhood. Discuss how these responsibilities are interwoven within any two or three of our works, be it poetry or prose. Consider how the female voice and perspective is necessary in these written works in defining how most Indigenous cultures are not patriarchal and are thus in conflict with Eurowestern values.
6. Many works by Indigenous women are concerned with the theme of alienation and loss of home and/or culture. Examine the issues of identity, isolation, and discrimination in at least two of the writings studied this term. Why is this theme particularly significant to Indigenous peoples living in occupied homelands?
7. Anger and humor often exist side by side in Indigenous literature. What is the significance of both as literary devices in the works we have studied this term, and what is the effect on the reader? Why do writers and artists employ rage and laughter when portraying contemporary Native life? What message(s) is/are being conveyed?