Skip to main content

Topics in Indigenous Literatures I *Cancelled*

Ancestors Speak: Uncovering Indigenous Stories Through Archival Research

Owl superimposed on text


While archives might popularly be considered the domain of history rather than literature, they hold an important—albeit fraught—place in the study of Indigenous literatures. Scholars of Indigenous literatures turn to archives to research understudied texts, unpublished works, and re-examine the contexts for better-known texts. Archives have become places of meeting for Indigenous scholars who are studying stories from their communities or trying to access ancestral knowledge. Furthermore, archives themselves become key sites of study and contestation as Indigenous researchers consider their experiences of conducting archival research and the possibilities and constraints of being in relation to community knowledge and story.

In this course, we will study a range of creative and critical works by scholars, authors, and artists to learn how different thinkers use, relate to, contest, critique, and resist the archive in relation to Indigenous storytelling. For example, we may read a poem alongside a critical essay to help us consider a particular aspect of the archive or archival research: what can be found in an archive, how we locate Indigenous knowledge, whose knowledge is archived and why, the space and infrastructure of archives, how we deal with “silences” or “absence” in the archive, how archives relate to published texts. In this course we will also consider what constitutes an archive. Is an archive focused on the textual? Could a river be an archive? Finally, this course will provide opportunities for students to experience the archive for themselves.



Assessment consists of: 

  • Participation
  • Short essays
  • Presentation
  • Final project

*Assessments are subject to change*


  • ENGL 200
  • ENGL 290

Department of English, Queen's University

Watson Hall
49 Bader Lane
Kingston ON K7L 3N6

Telephone (613) 533-2153



Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.