This creative writing and Indigenous literature course, "Savage Conversations," is designed around LeAnne Howe's Savage Conversations, exploring Mary Todd Lincoln's addiction and madness through the ever-present backdrop of President Lincoln's mass hanging of the Dakota 38. Author Philip J. Deloria wrote that the book "...explodes with the stench of guilt and insanity that undergirds the American story...." Students will write in their chosen genre (prose, poetry, lyric essay, hybrid forms), weaving a time or event in the historical or current American story into their creative works. Having conversations about almost anything today can lead to controversy, conflict, and confusion; but creative writers have the ability to present information in storied packages, bringing readers into conversations they may not otherwise have. This course will examine kaleidoscope perspectives when approaching and choosing topics and themes to write about, considering cultural appropriation, story ownership, and multiple, intersecting historical narratives surrounding pivotal and traumatic events. Examining Layli Long Soldier's debut book, Whereas, we will further explore social and cultural histories, paying attention to language, the consequences of words, and creating a platform to expose injustices and acts of oppression.
There will be student-led seminars, weekly journal writing, writing prompts and reflection assignments, and a final creative writing project. This is a writing intensive course, beginner to advanced, for anyone interested in creative writing as a learning tool, an artistic form of activism, and a platform to share untold stories. We will interrogate our own worldviews along with our time and place in America/the world to create work with integrity and power. Required text is Savage Conversations by LeAnne Howe and Whereas by Layli Long Soldier. Credit equivalencies are 2 Creative Writing and 2 Literature: Native American. The course is online with 3 hours of synchronous/zoom and "live" Discussion posting work and 1 hour of asynchronous work (completed on your own) in the fall. Technology required: Internet access is needed but alternative modes of learning can be planned by contacting the faculty.