Place, Memory, Narrative: Northwest Coast Art, History, and Literature

Fall 2023
Winter 2024
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 34
14 Credits per quarter
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What is the relationship between landscape and art? How do people map and define the Pacific Northwest? Within Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and the province of British Columbia, there is a great diversity of Indigenous people: Pacific Northwest Coast, Coast Salish, Interior Plateau, and Interior Salish. We will study the ways that place affects art and literature. We will learn the histories of the region, from tribal creation stories to contemporary case studies of Indigenous nation-building. We will critically consider dominant narratives, or the stories about Native people that have been disseminated in popular culture and public education, and compare them to the stories that Native people tell through texts, museum exhibits, and films. 

Students will build critical analytical skills through rigorous reading and writing. Our focus will be on writers and artists who see their art-making as both critically engaged and as part of their relationship to their communities. We will contrast visual sovereignty to intellectual and political sovereignty, defined as an Indigenous community’s or individual’s right to create a space for self-definition and determination. Faculty will work with students to develop different forms of literacies, including visual, cultural, and political. Students will be expected to integrate extensive readings, lecture notes, studio experiences, films, interviews and other sources into writing assignments. We will consider settler colonialism as a necessary context, but not the only frame for understanding Indigenous people. Rather, we will emphasize the resiliency and persistence of Indigenous nations. 


Fall 2023 Registration
Winter 2024 Registration

Students will need to complete a reading from fall quarter and write a short paper to be prepared for the winter quarter.

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

the arts, education, government, non-profit organizations, and public history.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$30 in fall and $20 in winter for museum entrance fees.

Special Expenses

Students should expect to spend $80 per quarter for art supplies. 


In Person or Remote
In Person (F)
In Person (W)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule