Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > UW Bothell Course Catalog 

Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sarah Starkweather
BIS 367
Bothell Campus

Exploring American Culture: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration

Examines how contested discourses of racial, ethnic, and national difference have shaped ideas about citizenship and "American" identities. Focuses on the relationship between these discourses and social, economic, and political practices and policies. Stresses diverse interpretive approaches within American Studies.

Class description

“The United States is a land of immigrants” … we have all heard it said, but what does this mean, exactly? What has been the relationship between immigration and ideas of “America” over the nation’s history? How have immigration flows been managed in different eras, and for what ends? How do race and ethnicity come into play in discourses of American-ness?

This core American Studies course is structured with two primary goals in mind. The first is to examine trends in immigration flows and immigration-related policies in the United States from European colonization to the present, in the context of contemporary discourses about race, ethnicity, and belonging. The second is to develop a set of skills that will serve you well as scholars in American Studies: the ability to pose an appropriate research question and assemble an archive to help you address it; the ability to work in productive collaboration with your peers; the ability to perform careful and insightful textual analysis; and the ability to critically assess the world around us.

The course is divided into three units. The first, 'Origins of the Nation,' will focus on immigration and race in Colonial America. The second, 'Policy and Representation During the Age of Migration,' will consider American reactions to the great waves of immigration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The third, 'Pacific Northwest, Pacific Rim,' will provide a more in-depth view of the history of Asian immigration to the Seattle region, with particular emphasis on the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Student learning goals

Learn about the evolution of legislation controlling immigration to the United States, from colonial times to the present.

Understand the ways that prevailing notions about race and national identity – and who can be “an American” – have shaped immigration legislation over time.

Read and comprehend immigration legislation, and do research on the social, political, and economic context in which it came into being.

Collaborate with peers to create a website explaining, contextualizing and analyzing specific pieces of U.S. immigration legislation.

Plan, research and write a term paper that addresses a substantive question about immigration to the United States and/or the experience of immigrantsi n the United States.

General method of instruction

In-class learning will be structured by a variety of activities, including but not limited to: lectures, large- and small-group discussions, individual and collaborative in-class exercises, films or other audio-visual resources.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this course. As for any class, enthusiasm, dedication, and a willingness to be a contributing member of our classroom community will enhance your experience, and quite possibly your grade.

Class assignments and grading

Assignments will be designed to develop research skills (e.g. delineating a research topic and question, identifying and comprehending appropriate sources, synthesizing information and arguments) and communication skills (through both speaking and writing).

Grades will be assessed based on the following (% distribution TBA):

Participation in online discussion forums and in-class discussions. Participation in in-class exercises. Collaborative project: research on specific pieces of immigration legislation and the creation of a website. Research paper.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sarah Starkweather
Date: 04/12/2007