1:00 PM – 2:15 PM TR
Open to Hutton Honors students only.
The United States has been called "the great American melting pot", and some foreign visitors contend that it has no discernible culture or identity of its own. Is America a fondue of uniform taste and consistency, or is it a stew of individually identifiable ingredients which has a flavor all its own?
In this course we will explore ways in which one's culture and identity (traditional and contemporary, from one's homeland and in one's new environment) can manifest themselves in art, music, food, clothing, language, social structure, religion, worldview, etc. We will do this through posing a series of questions: What do people arrive with beyond their physical baggage? What do they choose to keep and discard from their native culture? How do they choose to "perform" or display this to each other and to the outside?
Students will learn and discuss core concepts from a variety of fields, things such as language maintenance and shift; boundary construction and negotiation; material culture; generation gap; regional variation; endogamy and exogamy; and acculturation, assimilation, and transculturation. At the core will be the concept of identity and the many forms it can take. Students will also learn basic techniques of urban fieldwork in order to carry out interviews and projects later in the semester. All of these will come together in the process of trying to answer what it means to be "ethnic" in America.
The course will consist of at-home readings, in-class discussions, guest visits, films, and fieldtrips, and it will culminate in the presentation of multimedia course projects based on an ethnic community in a locale chosen by the student.
This is not a course on the history of immigration to the U.S. or on immigration or immigrant policies, although we will quickly see how these are inextricably linked to the main topics of the course, and we will slowly come to realize how a greater, in-depth understanding of the components of ethnic identity and the mechanics of its negotiation can inform the discussion of immigration and immigrants in the United States