Who is America? Social History as Multicultural History

by Prof. Hangen - November 11th, 2015

As we explore this unit’s reading and topics, we’re looking at the past from the perspective of various ethnic, racial and immigrant groups. These divergent, diverse histories help complicate the portrait of America we’ve crafted in our previous units.

And keep working on your final research paper project, a “microhistory” firmly anchored in primary source evidence. Remember the point is not why your chosen person (or small group of people) is “important” but why their very UNIMPORTANCE helps us understand their worldview / experiences or illuminates something meaningful about their time / place.

Fri 11/13 African American Life in the Nadir. The era from the 1890s to World War I is sometimes called the “nadir” (or low point) of American racial relations. Zinn’s chapter treats the more familiar civil rights era, but our lecture day will look back on what life was like for blacks in this period. How was it different in different parts of the country? For men and women? How did blacks self-advocate within the constraints and cultural possibilities open to them at the time? Who or what are some of the people, groups, ideas, and events to know about? Reading: Zinn Ch 17

Mon 11/16 Immigration, Migration and Nation. Reading: Zinn Ch 12. How did imperialism and war shape notions of race and nation at the turn of the 20th century? How was the notion of “multiculturalism” or pluralism developed / tested / contested then? What legacies of the era American imperialism can you identify in our culture today?

Wed 11/18 Asian Americans. “Asia” is not a country but a region of the world, and “Asian Americans” embraces people of very diverse language, religious, geographic and cultural backgrounds. We’ll read two contrasting histories about two groups of Asian Americans in the 1930s/1940s time period: Ngai, “Filipinos” and Goldstein-Shirley, “Strangers” (both as PDFs on Blackboard).

Fri 11/20 Prof for a Day #6
If writing a response paper for this week, you can respond to any of the discussion questions for the past 3 sessions’ readings (above).

Mon 11/23 Peer Review / Writing Workshop Day. Bring 2 printed copies of the draft of your paper to class.

11/25 – 11/29 No Class – Thanksgiving Holiday (aka Native American National Day of Mourning) – Over the break, begin reading Esperanza Rising, which we will discuss on Dec 2.

Comments are closed.