ENGL 3005 The Literature of New World Encounters

Instructor Contact:

Renata Ryan Burchfield, PhD candidate and GPTI

Email: rery1028@colorado.edu

About the Course:

This course is designed to compare Indigenous encounters on a transnational stage, both then and now. For many Indigenous traditions time is not linear–past, presents, and futures are part of a slipstream—and thus past encounters are future encounters. This class will explore Barry Barclay’s notion of “filming from the shore” to explore what Indigenous perspectives of contact are. While this class will read excerpts of Columbus’s journal we will also be comparing “contact” narratives to colonial sci-fi stories, which in a lot of cases are predicated on a settler colonial misbelief of terra nullius and eradication. Indigenous history predates colonial history and thus Indigenous perspectives will be at the forefront of this class.


By the end of the course you should be able to: Better understand “contact” and settler colonialism from Indigenous perspectives while critically thinking about how these contact narratives get reiterated in western sci-fi stories and compare them to Indigenous stories of contact with other-than-humans. The class will culminate in a final Unessay project that allows for a wide range of creative critical thinking.

Required Texts:

Required readings/listenings/viewings may include Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, Raoul Peck’s hybrid documentary Exterminate all of the Brutes, selected episodes from the podcast All My Relations by Dr. Adrienne Keen & Matika Wilbur, selected episodes from the podcast This Land by Rebecca Nagle, Jean O’Brien’s book Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History by Michel-Rolph Trouillot, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, and the documentary Son of Africa: The Autobiography of a Slave dir. Alrick Riley.

Grading (out of n points):


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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


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University of Colorado Boulder
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Boulder, Colorado