Literature 168 / Visual Arts 128D
American Indian Ritual and Performance
Center Hall 105
Jerome Rothenberg (Studio: VA 451)
TuTh 1:00-2:20
The course will be an introduction to the first poetry and art of the Americas. By using examples from a wide range of traditional native cultures we will attempt both to understand these arts in their own terms and to relate them to traditional and contemporary practices in the non-Indian world. Among the topics to be covered are the languages of shamanism; ritual performances that integrate a variety of artistic modes; mythmaking and oral narration; pictographic and signing poetry; monumental sculpture and hieroglyphic writings, and the poetry and performance practices of sacred clowns and tricksters.

Texts: Jerome Rothenberg, Shaking the Pumpkin; Jerome and Diane Rothenberg, Symposium of the Whole; xerox anthology (from CalCopy). Supplementary Texts: John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks; Jerome Rothenberg, Technicians of the Sacred.


4-2 Introduction: The Range of American Indian Cultures

4-4 A Poetics of Enactment/Transformations: Inside & Outside Views.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, Pre-Faces plus pp. 3, 10, 11, & relevant commentaries; Symposium of the Whole, Pre-Face and pp. 173-187 (Paula Gunn Allen, "The Sacred Hoop: A Contemporary Indian Perspective on American Indian Literature"); [xerox] Jerome Rothenberg, "Ethnopoetics," Edward S. Curtis, "An Eye-Witness Account of the Hamatsa Ritual," Jerome Rothenberg, "American Indian Poetry & the Other Traditions."

4-8 [Monday 3:30] Lecture by Elizabeth Newsome: "A Window into the Spirituality of Power in the Classic Maya Lowlands: Divine Kingship & the Stela Cult at Copan."

4-9 Discussion of Hamatsa Ceremony. Introduction to Shamanism.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 256-261, and commentaries; Symposium of the Whole, pp. 59-61 (M. Eliade, "The Epilogue to Shamanism), 257-269 (E.T. Kirby, "The Shamanistic Origins of Popular Entertainments).

4-11 Film: Initiation of a Shaman.

4-16 Discussion of Initiation of a Shaman & the Nature of Shamanism.

Readings: Carry over from 4-9, plus (in xerox): N. Chagnon, "From The Yanomamö: Intellectual Environment."

4-18 The Language of Magic & Ritual:Word/Song/Metamorphosis.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 4-9, 41-44, 47-51, 57-59, 124-127, 132-133, 160, 215-217, 229-230, 234-238, 243- 245, 270-275, 290-293, and especially pages 212-214 & 294-297; Symposium of the Whole, pages 31-35 (Paul Radin, "Reality at White Heat"), pages 381-393 (Jerome Rothenberg, "Total Translation"), 393-98 (David P. McAllester, "The 10th Horse Song of Frank Mitchell").

4-23 Forms of Narration (1): The Boy & the Deer.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 95-116; Symposium of the Whole, pages 366-380 (Dennis Tedlock, "Tell It Like It's Right in Front of You").

4-25 Forms of Narration (2): Swampy Cree Narratives.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 140-143, 218-220; [xerox] Kenneth Lincoln, "Trickster's Swampy Cree Bones."

4-30 Forms of Narration (3) / The Poetics of Vision: Black Elk Speaks. Film: Crow Dog's Paradise (with narration by Allen Ginsberg).

Reqired Readings: [xerox]: Black Elk, "The Great Vision"; Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 165-172 ("The Horse Dance"). Recommended reading: Black Elk Speaks (complete).

5-2 Black Elk (continued): The Horse Dance (Healing As Performance [1]).

5-7 Healing As Performance (2): María Sabina.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 52-55; [xerox] María Sabina, "From the Midnight Velada"; Symposium of the Whole, pages 187-191 (María Sabina, "The Mushrooms of Language"), pages 474-479 (Henry Munn, "Writing in the Imagination of an Oral Poet").

5-9 Processions & Transformations.

Film: To Find Our Life.
Reading: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 305-308, and commentaries; Symposium of the Whole, pages 225-230 (Barbara Myerhoff, "Return to Wirikuta").

5-14 The Play of Opposites: (1) To Find Our Life; (2) The Night Chant.

Readings: Symposium of the Whole, pages 116-118 (Ramón Medina Silva, "How the Names Are Changed on the Peyote Journey"); [xerox] "The Night Chant" and Barbara Tedlock, "The Beautiful & the Dangerous."

5-16 The Night Chant (continued)

Readings: Continue from 11-9. Review Navajo (from 4-18, above).

5-21 Dreams & the Wishes of the Soul.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 4-9, 13-37, 149, 280; [xerox] Anthony F. C. Wallace, "Dreams and the Wishes of the Soul" and Jerome Rothenberg, "Dreamers."

5-23 Clowns & Tricksters (1): The Poetics of Disruption.

Readings: [xerox] "The San Juan Clown Drama" and Barbara Tedlock, "Clown's Way".

5-28 Clowns & Tricksters (2): The Incredible Survival of Coyote.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 89-90, 150, 160, 184-187, 218-225; Symposium of the Whole, pages 270-273 (A. Ortiz, "The Sacred Clown"), 425-433 (Gary Snyder, "The Incredible Survival of Coyote"), 433-44 "Coyote Poems" and Diane DiPrima, "The Birth of Loba").

5-30 Aztec & Mayan Poetry & Performance (1): The Written Record.

Film: Lost World of the Maya. Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, 69-70, 71-77, 136-137, 241, 242, 324-327; [xerox] Miguel León-Portilla, "From PreColumbian Literatures of Mexico" and Karl Young, "Notes on the Codex Vienna"; [xerox] Linda Schele & David Freidel, "Mayan Shamanism & the Origins of Writing."

6-4 Aztec & Mayan Poetry & Performance (2): Rabinal Achí &

Cantares Mexicanos
Readings: Shking the Pumpkin, pages 10, 46, 65-66, 231- 232, 309-315, & especially 188-208; [xerox] "From Cantares Mexicanos."

6-6 Contemporary Moves.

Readings: Shaking the Pumpkin, pages 83-88 (Leslie Silko), 91-94 (Simon Ortiz), 128 (Kiowa "49" Songs), 134-135 (Lance Henson), 136-139 (Alonso Gonzales Mó), 228 (N. Scott Momaday), 329, 330-331 (Ray Young Bear), 339-340 (Philip Kahclament); Symposium of the Whole, pages 408-413 ("Prayers on Behalf of Nathaniel Tarn"), 414-416 (N. Scott Momaday, "The Man Made of Words").


Paula Gunn Allen, The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
John Bierhorst, Cantares Mexicanos
James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture
Michael D. Coe, Breaking the Maya Code
Frederick J. Dockstader, Indian Art in America
Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
Alvaro Estrada, María Sabina: Her Life & Chants
Jamake Highwater, Arts of the Indian Americas (especially Chapters 1 and 13)
Jamake Highwater, Ritual of the Wind: North American Indian: Ceremonies, Music and Dances
Dell Hymes, "In Vain I Tried To Tell You": Essays in Native American Ethnopoetics
John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks
Howard Norman, The Wishing Bone Cycle: Narrative Poems from the Swampy Cree Indians
Jerome Rothenberg, Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, & Oceania
Linda Schele and David Freidel, Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya
Gary Snyder, Earth House Hold
Brian Swann (ed.), On the Translation of American Indian Literature
Brian Swann (ed.), Smoothing the Ground: Essays on Native American Oral Literature
Barbara Tedlock, The Beautiful and the Dangerous: Encounters with the Zuni Indians
Dennis Tedlock, Finding the Center
Dennis Tedlock, The Spoken Word and the Work of Interpretation
Dennis & Barbara Tedlock (eds), Teachings from the American Earth

On reserve in Undergraduate Library.