Fall 2024

Imagining History

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-385  |  English, as ENGL-413


Lisa Brooks (Section 01)


(Offered as AMST-386 and ENGL-413)  In this course, we will consider both historical fiction and creative nonfiction as literary forms that enable us to re-imagine American history. We will read closely, deeply and collaboratively. How do different authors approach historical research and storytelling? What is the role of the imagination in historical recovery? How can writing, reading, and translation enable us to engage critically and creatively with difficult, complex histories and legacies of enslavement and colonization? The authors we will read begin with a single object or being: an animated doll, an inscribed sack, a quilled birchbark book, a stolen banana. So, we, too, will begin with objects, beings and questions that might inspire our own writing. Readings will include Mona Susan Power’s A Council of Dolls, Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried, Debra Magpie Earling’s The Lost Journals of Sacajewea, and SJ Zhang’s translation of Louis-Armand Garreau’s“Bras-Coupé.” Participants will have the opportunity to experiment with fiction and creative nonfiction, to research literary texts and historical objects, and to participate in collaborative circles and workshops. A feature of this course is engagement with guest authors, both in class and in public events. 

Limited to 18 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Brooks.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to English and American Studies majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: close reading, visual analysis, written work, independent research, discussion leading, group work, engagement with guest speakers in class and through on-campus events.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023, Fall 2024