Focusing on the immigrant experience in the United States (with an emphasis on contemporary art and supplemental historical contexts), this course will explore how we perceive, respond to, and express cultural identity. In order to gain perspectives on the experiences and challenges of diverse communities, we will examine a variety of works by Native American, Hispanic American, African American, Asian American, and Palestinian American citizens. Source materials will be varied, ranging from literary and visual arts, to advertising, film, and electronic media. We will also consider how certain "hybrid" art works (such as graphic novels, documentary films, or photo-journalism) cross traditionally "distinct" or "separate" boundaries between strategies of expression. In so doing, students will explore the ways that artistic expression is a means to understand others and ourselves and how we form communities.
Coursework will focus on class participation (stemming from in-depth group discussion and collaborative work); written essays and responses (including individual analyses of specific works, creative responses, and peer responses); and a final group research project (to be written and presented collaboratively) on a chosen topic that speaks directly to issues of immigration. Each assignment is tailored to encourage and challenge students to articulate their own ideas, make connections to current events in the political and social spheres, and respond effectively to the thoughts and ideas of their peers.