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Unit information: Strangers in the Land: Making America and Becoming American (Level I Lecture Response) in 2017/18

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Unit name Strangers in the Land: Making America and Becoming American (Level I Lecture Response)
Unit code HIST25006
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Julio Decker
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


A 'nation of immigrants': dissecting this familiar cliché, this unit examines changing patterns of migration and its underlying motives in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. We will analyse the immigrant and how native-born Americans’ response to immigration varied according to time, place and the immigrants’ race, class, and gender. The unit thus covers intellectual, legislative, and cultural history to develop an understanding of American self-conceptions and views of migration as well as the immigrants’ experience of “Americanization” and strategies of retaining and reinventing their cultural identities.


  • To provide a broad grounding in the history of migration in US history, and the fault lines of inclusion and exclusion in American society
  • To develop an understanding of changing American cultural and social attitudes toward migrants and how these were reflected in legislation and its application at the border

To enable students to form individual views and to develop a critical interpretation of the scholarship in the field

Intended learning outcomes

  • wider historical knowledge of immigration into the USA and the process of Americanization
  • deeper awareness of how to approach a long term historical analysis
  • ability to set individual issues within their longer term historical context
  • the ability to analyse and generalise about issues of continuity and change
  • ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general historical points
  • ability to derive benefit from and contribute effectively to large group discussion
  • ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically and form an individual viewpoint

Teaching details

  • Weekly 2-hour interactive lectures
  • Tutorial feedback on essay
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) and 1 x 2 hour exam (50%)

Reading and References

King, Desmond. Making Americans: Immigration, Race, and the Origins of the Diverse Democracy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Ngai, Mae M.; Gjerde, Jon (Eds.) (2013): Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History. Documents and Essays. 2nd ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning (Major Problems in American History Series)

Ngai, Mae M. “Immigration and Ethnic History.” In American History Now. Edited by Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr, 358–75. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2011.

Roediger, David R. Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White; the Strange Journey from Ellis Island to the Suburbs. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Tichenor, Daniel J. (2002): Dividing Lines. The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press (Princeton Studies in American Politics)

Ueda, Reed, ed. A Companion to American Immigration. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.