BA in English: Texts and Culture Courses

The Hawai‘i Pacific University English Program believes that all graduates should be prepared to engage with texts from a variety of cultures.  Courses in this area introduce to students a four-step process of interpretation when encountering texts from other cultures. The first step is contextualization, providing information about the author’s historical period, education, gender, class, and ethnicity; about the values of the culture; and about the social and political situation surrounding the text’s production. The second step is close reading, in which culturally specific references are translated and contrasted to universally recognized situations. The third step is creating opportunities for students to empathize--to identify with another culture’s perspective and viewpoint. The fourth step deals with having the students reflect critically on their own values.

Texts and Gender courses are a subset of Texts and Culture Courses dealing specifically with gender.

Students must take two upper-division Texts and Culture courses as part of the requirements for the BA degree. It is possible to use additional Texts and Culture courses toward the major electives.  

Use the course search feature to see if a course is currently scheduled.  Scroll down or click "More" after each course for some more detailed descriptions of the courses as taught by individual professors in past semesters.



Literature of Slavery  More



Pidgin Literature  More



British Comic Literature More



Asian Dramatic Literature  More



Asian Literature  More



Ethnic Literature  More



Hawai`i Writers   More



Hawai`i and the Pacific in Film More



Fantasy Literature  More



Literature of Travel More



Texts and Gender: More



Texts and Gender: Sex, Power and Narrative More



Texts and Gender: 20th-Century American Women Writers of Color  More

ENG 3202 Literature of Slavery as taught by Dr. Laurie Leach 

Paradoxically, America, a nation celebrated for its democratic ideals and commitment to justice and liberty, is also responsible for one of the most egregious violations of those principles: the slavery of Africans and their descendants.   Eloquently attacked and passionately defended, slavery was abolished after the Civil War, yet its legacy persists and continues to provide a compelling subject for American literary artists. This course will focus on representations of slavery in American literature, from Ante-bellum slave narratives to twentieth century efforts to approach the subject in novel, drama and film.  African American authors such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Sherley Anne Williams, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Edward Jones and Langston Hughes will be featured as well as white writers Harriet Beecher Stowe and William Styron. Our readings will focus on three issues: representations of the daily lives of slaves, representations of resistance to slavery and representations of the legacy of slavery.

ENG 3203  Pidgin Lit as taught by Lee Tonouchi

This class offers a general introduction to the Pidgin literature of Hawai‘i.  The course focuses on fiction, poetry, drama, and essays.  Some of the topics covered in the class include: cultural representation and Pidgin authenticity, serious literary themes found in Hawai‘i’s Local comedy, and Hip-hop culture’s influence on Pidgin.   

Texts include  Darrel  H. Y. Lum’s Sun, Lois Ann Yamanaka’s Saturday Night at the Pahala Theater,  Lee Tounouchi’s  Living Pidgin, James Grant Benton’s play Twelf Nite O Woteva, Andy Bumatai’s All in Da Ohana, and short pieces by Eric Chock, Milton Murayama and others.

ENG 3206 British Comic Literature as taught by Dr. Kathy Cassity

 Laugh (and watch TV) while you learn!  Although Plato objected to “excessive laughter,” the study of comedy—novels, films, plays, even TV sitcoms—produces fascinating insights into a range of issues, including human psychology, social systems, cultural values, cross-cultural communication (and mis-communication), gender roles, socioeconomic class, and censorship.  British comic literature, with its long history and reputation for quirkiness and irreverence, offers important insights into all these issues and more.  We will study and compare key humorous British works in several genres and across literary periods, within the context of theories regarding humor, class, gender, and culture.  We will also explore cultural factors that shape and are shaped by the production of humor, consider some potential problems of humorous literary expression, and gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of British culture, literature, and humor.

ENG 3222 Asian Dramatic Literature as taught by Mr. David Mauricio (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3331)

 From the battle epochs of the Ramayana and Mahabharata to Chinese Revolutionary Theater, from ancient texts of sacrificial ritual to modern practices of ritual trance performance, and from the earliest tales of love that felled empires to the most recent films that redefine notions of love, this course is an overview of Asian dramatic literatures, dramatic theories, and theater histories, focusing on traditional theater genres still practiced by the peoples of India, Indonesia, Philippines, China, and Japan. The course draws on dramatic texts, transcriptions of plays, scholarly texts, video documentation, and performance techniques.

ENG 3223 Asian Literature as taught by Dr. Micheline Soong (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3335) 

In a rapidly globalized, post-post-colonial, 21st century world, how are the countries and cultures in the East and South Asian and Pacific-Rim regions struggling to define themselves in contra-distinction to well-established yet hardly accurate Western-centric stereotypes of "Asian-ness"?  The students in this course will encounter modern short fiction from Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and The Maldives, and are challenged to chart the trajectories of each culture’s literary tradition from the past to present day in an effort to help redefine what constitutes modern Asian Literature.

ENG 3224 Ethnic Lit as taught by  Dr. Laurie Leach (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3421)

This course introduces the student to literature from some of the diverse ethnic traditions that make up American culture. The course emphasizes writing about literature and  focuses mainly on the genres of fiction and poetry. Among the writers we’ll read are Octavia Butler, Louise Erdrich, Gish Jen, Toni Morrison, Bharati Mukerjhee and Luis Urrea.  We will also explore such questions as: What qualifies as ethnic literature?  What role do stereotypes play in the creation of ethnic literature?  How do the reactions of readers inside and outside of a particular ethnic group differ when they read the same work?   What value does reading ethnic literature have for Americans who are not strongly identified with any ethnic group or for people from other countries wanting to learn about America?

ENG 3226 Hawaii Writers as taught by Dr. Micheline Soong (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3422)

This course examines the historical development of Hawai‘i’s literary tradition—writers who make Hawai‘i the subject of their work. In particular, the course explores the transformation of perspective from the earliest writers as outsiders looking in, to the most recent writers as insiders looking out, and the varying degrees in between on this continuum. Selected readings will be analyzed within its historical and cultural contexts. The theoretical frameworks for analyzing literary texts in the course range from mythological, historical, biographical, gender- and class-based, and postcolonial critique. Students will also have an opportunity to interact with Hawai‘i writers to explore the issues facing writers concerning the privileging of narrative voice, character development, and the ways in which Hawai‘i writers challenge the American literary canon.

ENG 3227 Hawai’i and the Pacific in Film as taught by Dr. Houston Wood (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3626)

 In this course students will examine the history and current state of cinema in and about Hawaii and the Pacific looking particularly at the impact of films on culture, politics, and economies. The course will begin with early silent films, and include Hollywood musicals of the 1930s, and more recent war and romance films. Much of the course will focus on how popular films have worked to encourage and justify Euro-American colonization of Hawaii and the Pacific. The final weeks of the course will feature screenings of several recent, oppositional films by Maori, Kanaka Maoli and others, who provide alternative representations of the Pacific's past, present and future.  Films include Blue Crush, Blue Hawaii, Hula, Once Were Warriors, The Ride, Tabu, Utu and Whale Rider.

ENG 3228 Fantasy Literature as taught by Christy Williams (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3610)

What do fantasy writers mean when they say that fantasy is “true,” though not real or factual (as many claim)? This course will explore how fantasy literature questions dominant ideologies and imagines the real world otherwise, considering alternative ways of structuring societies. Through the fantastic, authors are able to engage forbidden themes and concretize abstract philosophies. We will discuss the development of fantasy as a modern genre and as part of the larger genre of speculative fiction, explore fantasy tropes and sub-genres, and read works that push the boundaries of the genre. The course texts are fantasy novels from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, though select historical antecedents to fantasy (myth, legend, romance, epic, fairy tale, Gothic, etc.) will also be discussed.

ENG 3229 Literature of Travel as taught by Dr. Phyllis Frus (Prior to Fall 2010 this course was known as LIT 3721)

Great travel writers take readers not only on an exterior journey to places and people described freshly and vigorously, but also on an interior journey as the authors’ adventures challenge them to reevaluate their philosophies of life. This course surveys travel writing by and about visitors to Oceania--the Pacific Islands, Basin, and Rim. Works studied include those by explorers such as Captain Cook and Tony Horwitz, who traced his route two centuries later (Blue Latitudes), adventure travelers like the 19th-century's Isabella Bird and 20th-century's Tracey Johnston (Shooting the Boh), temporary settlers looking for an island paradise (Paul Gauguin and J. Maarten Troost), and journalists such as Mark Twain and Paul Theroux.  

ENG 3250  Texts and Gender

This course examines the concept of gender in relation to texts. The particular emphasis varies. Students may analyze texts by writers of a particular gender or sexual orientation, representations of femininity and masculinity, or social constructions of gender in and by texts.  For example, there have been sections of this course focusing on Women and Madness and on Fairy Tales and Gender.  The course may be repeated if the topic changes.

Some versions of this course that are frequently offered have been given specific titles and numbers below.

ENG 3251 Sex, Power, and Narrative as taught by Dr. Deborah Ross

Sex, Power, and Narrative examines how gender affects storytelling.  We will read stories by and about women, from various times and places, often contrasting them with comparable stories by men.  Paradoxically, this approach should ultimately help us to transcend the age-old barriers of sex.

 The course is founded on the following beliefs:

  • When we tell stories—bedtime stories, dream memories, even what happened yesterday or ten years ago—we usually don’t intend to make political statements.  Nevertheless, in creating conflicts among characters with competing desires, making characters either succeed or fail to reach their goals, encouraging the audience to feel either happy or indignant or sad about the outcome, we do reveal something about our general political orientation:  radical, progressive, conservative, reactionary.
  • Because of differences in male and female experience (waiving for now the question of biology), the stories men have traditionally told have different shapes and hence different ideologies from those told by women.  Mainly this difference arises from differences in power:  those who rule tell different stories from those who serve.  In history, the rulers have mainly been male.
  • Though rulers have mainly been male, that does not mean males have mainly been rulers.   Hence the relevance of female narrative to humans in general:  we all serve.  Therefore, the stories of those who identify themselves as the meek or disadvantaged have resonance even for those who identify themselves as the strong, giving them permission to explore their own areas of relative powerlessness.  By this process, conventions that began on the margins with women writers have now become mainstream—the ironic omniscient narrator, for example—though the maternal inheritance is not always acknowledged.

ENG 3252  Twentieth-Century American Women Writers of Color as taught by Dr. Micheline Soong

The course focuses on the literary works of American women writers whose identities are greatly influenced by their experiences of being different from mainstream "white" American culture, especially in the last half of the 20th century after the Civil Rights Movement and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The theoretical framework for examining the literary writing (poetry, prose fiction, drama, biographical and critical essays) of Native American, African American, Asian American and Latina writers in this course revolves around the issue of identity politics shaped by the socially constructed concepts of class, race, gender, sexuality, and difference. The course will engage students in discussion on the ways in which these writers tackle concepts such as power and status, erasure and marginality, creating and finding voice, and challenging the dominant forms of literary discourse.

Writers include: Lois Ann Yamanaka, Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Louise Erdrich, Paula Gunn Allen, Sandra Cisneros, Jessica Hagedorn, Isabelle Allende