NASX 553

Spring Semesters: Online

3 Credits, Graduate Level

Instructor: Dr. Daniel Hanson


Course Description

PREREQUISITES: Graduate standing. This course will familiarize learners with selected texts of Indigenous literature and their relation to the American and Canadian West. We will seek to examine the creation of the iconic Western mythos in contrast with Indigenous perspectives and literature, placed at the center of our discussions. 

This course studies Native American and First Nations authors and critically analyzes their work to explore how, from the earliest entries of what would become the  “canon” of Indigenous literature to the most contemporary ones, writers have consistently pursued the objective of cultural continuance.  In particular, students inquire how Indigenous literature has engaged this objective in the context of contested settler-colonial ideas about “the West,” as a geographical, historic—and iconic—place.   

In readings and discussions, students will examine how Indigenous literature projects a self-representing and fundamentally activist literary tradition that over time has concentrated on:  1) deconstructing stereotypes, 2) rejecting the “ideology of vanishing and victimhood," and 3) reasserting culturally-grounded values and ways of knowing, creating a body of work whose ethos is consequential to both Native and non-Native readers.  In the process of these considerations, students will explore how Indigenous literature is evolving to address the changing circumstances of contemporary Indigenous individuals and communities in the real-world settings of “the West,” particularly in relation to urban living, identity diversity, and ecological interdependence. 

Reading for this course may include, but are not limited to:

*Resource and materials list subject to change. Check with the instructor before purchasing books!*

  • Mourning Dove (Humishima). (1991). Cogewea the Half-Blood. University of Nebraska Press.
  • Silko, Leslie Marmon. (2006). Ceremony. Penguin Classics.
  • King, Thomas. (2005). The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative. University of Minnesota Press.
  • Welch, James. (2011 reprint ed.). Fools Crow. Penguin Classics.
  • Orange, Tommy. (2018). There There. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
  • King, Thomas. (1994). Green Grass, Running Water. Bantam.
  • Film: Ford, John. (1939). Drums Along the Mohawk.
  • Film: Eyre, Chris. (1998). Smoke Signals.


Dr. Dan Hanson

Dan Hanson earned his PhD in American Studies from Montana State University with a primary emphasis on western American studies and a secondary emphasis on Native American studies.  Dan’s work explores the complexities of the western genre and especially ways in which historically marginalized voices interact with and/or utilize the traditional western tropes to offer different views on America’s frontier narrative. 

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Tuition and Fee table below:

For more information, view MSU Fee Schedules.

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course. Learn how to apply.

Students register for courses via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.


For course information: Please contact Erika Ross at [email protected] or Dan Hanson at [email protected]