Teachability: Fall 2009


twas a good semester for my poetry book, taught in 4 college courses that i know of, and one high school 9th grade english class.


i had the pleasure of skyping with prof. sinavaiana’s class at the univ of hawaii, manoa. here, i think, is the info for the course:

ETHNIC LITERATURE OF THE PACIFIC: This course focuses on the study of the literatures of the Pacific especially that of indigenous writers working primarily in English. The course will first (a) look at oral literature/traditions, then (b) move to a discussion of the written literature by the indigenous writers of Hawai’i, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, and Guam, for example.

The course surveys and explores ways in which heroic motifs from oratures of Oceania, such as quest, pilgrimage, combat, descent, transformation and return will serve as thematic focal points to chart a comparative course of study across various Oceanic cultures. The course will explore influences of colonialism, feminism, and western education on contemporary literatures by indigenous writers of Oceania.


i also had the pleasure of blogging with prof. schultz’ class also at univ of hawaii.

Creative Writing & Literature: This course introduces you to the art of reading & writing poetry.  We will be very active in class, doing exercises, talking about poems, making them, and enjoying the process.  We will think about observation, memory, sound, documents, local languages (Pidgin and Hawaiian), history, music, geography and space.  In addition, we will think about ways in which content and form complement one another.  The skills you develop in this course will help you in courses on (for example) fiction, non-fiction, and drama, as well.


i also had the pleasure of visiting a class taught by prof. dougherty at the univ of california berkeley.

Native American Studies Reading and Composition: Native American Studies R1A is a course in critical thinking, reading, and writing in which students will gain a basic introduction to the primary issues and concerns of Native American Studies and contemporary Native literature. This course will focus on the way in which the historical and contemporary Native experience is defined within the context of Native American literary productions. In addition, this course will examine how these literary productions inform the audience of the social and political situation of indigenous peoples in the United States. A critical examination of race, law, culture, politics, economics, and environment will supplement our understanding of these Native American literary productions. This course will be oriented around three primary themes: community, memory, and struggle. The central questions of the course will be: how does contemporary Native literature narrate the experiences of Native peoples in the United States, and how does it confront issues of community, memory, and indigenous struggle?


The annoying thing about visiting classes is that students tend to fall asleep while i am talking. fortunately, the two young women who sat front and center were very attentive and inquisitive:


i also got a facebook message from a graduate student (and a friend) who had to present on my book for her course at Mills College. tho i’m not exactly sure what the course was.


finally, my poems were taught in a ninth grade english class at kamehameha high school in oahu. i also had the pleasure of facebooking with one of the students and he asked many great questions about my work. several different classes had to prepare a slideshow presentation on my poems and provide some cultura & historical context. the instructor kindly sent me their powerpoints, so i’ve included images from them below:


a future course adoption i just learned about is at the univ of st. thomas university, in saint paul, minnesota. this is a “j-term” course, meaning a month long intensive in january.

ENGL 481-61 Seminar: Discontiguous States of America
Prof. Paul Lai

This course examines ideas and examples of American literature in light of territories outside the forty-eight contiguous states. We will begin by considering more typical accounts of American literary history that rely on the relationships between geography, region, and cultural contact in creating a sense of American identity and literary production. Moving from historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis of American character through westward continental expansion, we will consider writing by authors such as Willa Cather and Zitkala Sa that sketch out visions of an expanding America from the perspective of settlers as well as displaced indigenous peoples. We will then turn to explorations of American imperialism that leads to the incorporation of Alaska, Hawai’i, Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico through the literary imaginations of writers like Jack London, Haunani-Kay Trask, Craig Santos Perez, Jose Garcia Villa, and the Nuyorican Cafe poets.

In addition to reading literature about and from these spaces that lie outside the contiguous United States, we will study legal and cultural claims to the peculiar status of these lands and peoples to the American landscape and body politic. While these places are often effaced and the inhabitants forgotten in the national imaginary, their incorporation into the country has led the US Supreme Court to define some of these areas in a series of early twentieth-century rulings called the “Insular Cases” that turn on the question of whether citizenship and the protections of the Constitution necessarily follow the reach of American military might. We will read these legal discussions along with literary renderings of the complicated status of such people and places. This course fulfills the Diversity Literature distribution requirement for English majors. Prerequisites: Completion of five English courses beyond the 100-level, including ENGL 380; or, for non-majors, permission of the instructor and the department chair.


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