Juliet D Shields
Develops ideas, concepts, or institutions that cut across the arts, humanities, and social sciences. For University Honors Program students only.
Since its beginnings, the United States has defined itself as a nation of immigrants. Yet we also struggle to decide who "counts" as an American in cultural and legal terms. In this course, we will study immigration from several angles: literary-historical, political, and sociological. First we will examine the literature and history of several major immigrant groups of the twentieth century, including Jewish, Chinese, and Hispanic peoples, among others. By reading the stories and histories of these groups, we will uncover similarities and differences in the experiences of immigrants from diverse parts of the world. We will ask what motivated them to come to the United States, whether they found what they hoped for there, how they adapted to life in a new country, whether and how they maintained ties to their homelands, and whether they consider themselves American. Second, we will examine contemporary political debates surrounding illegal or unregulated immigration, including those concerning education, employment, and marriage. After we explore multiple perspectives on these issues, students will be encouraged to form their own opinions. Finally, students will perform their own ethnographic study of the immigrant experience in Washington by interviewing a recent immigrant and analyzing the results of their interview in the context of our course readings. In addition to active class participation, course requirements will include three 3-page papers and a presentation.
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