Harvard’s beginnings included a promise to educate both “English and Indian youth,” but from its outset Harvard’s endowment included Native lands expropriated through war, theft, and coercion. This class will conduct original research on these histories, seeking to contribute a new understanding of Harvard’s institutional development and its historic and continuing impact on Native American peoples. We will work hands-on with Harvard’s archives, developing research skills in navigating collections, reading early handwriting, and interpreting colonial documents. We will situate our research in readings and class activities on New England colonialism, the long history of European and U.S. dispossession of Native lands, and the political struggles of Native American communities today. Through close examinations of texts including poems, speeches, short stories, and deeds, we will explore the centrality of land and environment in colonial writings and in Native literature today. Our course will result in two products: working collaboratively, we will produce both a new database of Harvard land transactions and a set of detailed research projects on individual sites. Drawing inspiration from Harvard’s own Legacy of Slavery initiative and the Land-Grab Universities website, we hope to come up with both new data and new narratives for describing Harvard’s pasts and possible futures.
This course satisfies the “Pre-1700 Guided Elective" requirement for English concentrators and Secondary Field students.
Note: This course is also offered through the History Department as History 15H. Credit may be earned for either English 90LN or History 15H, but not both.