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HIS-207-20, Ethnic Groups in America (SP14)

INSTRUCTOR: Susan Barber

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME: T1/Saturdays/12-2:45 p.m., 02/01/2014-03/22/2014


This course examines the histories of a number of ethnic groups—Native Americans, African Americans, Italians, Irish, Jews, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans (Koreans, Chinese and Japanese)—from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries.  The course is organized both chronologically and topically.  We will examine several specific topics: the reasons for emigration; the work place as a source of acculturation; the family as a bastion of cultural resistance; differences in acculturation on the basis of age and gender; and nativism and its effects on immigration and cultural identity.  But I hope we can do so in a chronological fashion that reveals the complexity of the immigrant experience.  HIS207 satisfies the general education requirements in History and Cross-Cultural Studies. 

USE OF JOULE: HIS-207 is a web-assisted course which requires students to access digitized readings from the course Joule site. I will also use Joule to post assignments, course documents, and other course information.  Students will be required to submit at least one course assignment to the Digital Drop Box that I will create on the Joule site. In cases of inclement weather, I also expect to conduct online class discussions on Joule during our regular class time.

NOTE: students must use their ndmu e-mail address for joule.


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

·Explain and discuss the history of different ethnic minorities and their reasons for emigration.

·Compare and contrast these ethnic histories

·Identify a thesis in an article or a book

·Analyze and interpret information in original historical documents

·Develop and write an annotated bibliography

·Demonstrate through reflections and class discussions an increased cultural awareness about diverse ethnic and racial groups

·Identify and explain the internal and external dynamics affecting acculturation (family and workplace).


Brief lectures

Discuss of course readings and films

Evaluation on written assignments


Class reading and discussion  25%

·   Annotated bibliography  25%

·   Four  Documents analyses  5% each

·   Three Article Summaries  10% each

·   There will be no exams in this course unless it becomes apparent that students are not completing the required readings.


-Thomas Dublin, ed.  Immigrant Voices: New Lives in America.  University of Illinois Press, 1993.  ISBN: 0252062906

-Ronald Takaki.  A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America  Rev. Ed. Back Bay Books, 2008. ISBN: 0316022365

-Digitized articles and book chapters available on the course Joule site.

-There are also required films most of which will be shown in class.


Read Takaki, A Different Mirror, Part I and “Authors Note” on pp. 441-45; Dublin, Immigrant Voices, pp. 1x-26.  Also read Castañeda, “So You Could Defend Yourselves,” Hoxie, “Retrieving the Red Continent,” and Gladwell, “Black Like Them,” found on the course Joule site under Digitized Readings.  After reading, write a typewritten, two-paragraph narrative of your own ethnic/immigrant history which you will share with the class.  (Use Takaki’s “Author’s Note” in A Different Mirror as your guide for this.)  I will collect these at the end of class.


If you miss the first class, you must withdraw from the course.

This class is based on a mixture of class lectures and discussions of assigned readings and films, so its success depends, largely, on your willingness to prepare the assignments before coming to class and your participation in the class discussions. Class attendance, therefore, is absolutely crucial. It’s extremely difficult to make up a discussion grade since you will not have the benefit of your colleagues’ insights. It can only be done if you have an excused absence for the class. If your absence is unexcused, you may not make up the discussion grade and the zero will be averaged into your discussion grade for the course. Any student who leaves the class to answer a cell phone call or who is observed texting during class will be counted as absent for the day. Two or more unexcused absences or excessive lateness will seriously affect your final course grade.  I reserve the right to determine what constitutes an excused absence and may ask you to provide documentation. Excessive lateness (more than 30 minutes after the class begins) will be considered as a class absence unless there are extenuating circumstances. Of course, emergencies can and do happen and I will always take those into account.