R1B - 001 | CCN: 36536

The Craft of Writing

Language, Culture, and Indigeneity Before the Law

Instructor: Tim Wyman-McCarthy and Ryan Rhadigan

4 Units

 Enlisting Franz Kafka’s parable “Before the Law” as a locus of inspiration and point of departure, this writing course seeks to explore how indigenous political identity stands “before” the law in two important ways: First, indigenous polities are perceived as topographically outside and temporally prior to the legal and political order of the settler colonial nation state. And second, these polities are subjected to, coerced by, and impelled to appear before domestic courts of law and within international legal apparatuses for the purposes of testimony, judgment, and redress. Using a variety of literary, philosophical, anthropological, and legal texts, students will be encouraged to think with, write about, and critically examine broad and multifaceted concepts like “culture” “indigeneity” “law” and “recognition” as they relate to contemporary indigenous struggles for land, political self-determination, and human rights. Special emphasis will be given to exploring how language-based theories of culture work to both enable and constrain indigenous (self)representation, political legibility, and legal subjectivity. Over the course of the semester, formal written assignments and informal classroom exercises will be used to target and improve skills of textual analysis, critical thought, argumentative writing, and research proficiency. Students will develop strategies for analyzing and synthesizing complex arguments across different disciplines, styles, and contexts, while constructing and supporting their own original argumentative claims through the use of research and properly cited textual evidence. A ten page research paper serves as the final project.