Working from Community:
American Indian Art and Literature in a Historical and Cultural Context

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute
June 23-August 1, 2003

The Evergreen State College



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I
t is the intention of this NEH Summer Institute to create an environment where scholars working in the areas of Literature and Art History, and scholars in Native American Studies work together to define context and sharpen their skills in the interpretation of indigenous art and literature. Through this interaction and an open discussion about strategies for writing about and teaching the imaginative works of indigenous artists and writers, we hope to have a positive impact on the work of people in these three disciplines and to build bridges that will allow them to design sophisticated interdisciplinary curriculum if that interests them. We plan to accomplish this through examining issues that relate to research in these three fields, by travel to and work in nearby reservation and urban indigenous communities, and through discussions with well-known indigenous artists, writers, and scholars. Participants will have the opportunity to read novels, view artworks, read interpretive materials, and will work together and individually on projects to interpret both assigned works and a work of their choosing. Participants will be given forums to discuss their interpretations and strategies for using the works they explore as subjects for publication, teaching, and as models for their students' work as interpreters. It is hoped that participants will come away from this Institute not just with a deeper understanding of historical and cultural contexts and sharpened interpretive skills, but that they will have strategies for doing successful primary research in indigenous communities. It is also our hope that this research will generate new information that may be difficult to access in libraries and that it will help participants to evaluate and critique the efficacy of the library materials they are able to access. Further, we hope to develop a community of scholars with whom participants can discuss their future work and gain support for expanding information and creating sophisticated curriculum and texts in their fields
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