ENG*394*11 Description

SpTp: Immigrant Fiction in US

Writings about immigration to the U.S. are a fundamentally contradictory and variable body of literature. Yet it is also one of the largest and most central to our national imagination. What might a first-generation Irish American immigrant in New York have to do with a third-generation Asian American immigrant in California? Can stories about trying to become American in the nineteenth-century tell us something about becoming an American today? This class will look at some of the larger patterns and resonances that arise from this body of narratives, tracking how ideas of home, exile, and citizenship have changed over the course of U.S. history. We'll also look at some of the laws that governed who could become an American and how, as well as larger debates about assimilation and difference. We will focus particularly in the context of Asian American and Latino/a literature, but we'll also ask how the experiences and writings of African Americans, European immigrants, and Native Americans have shaped ideas of joining the nation.