LITR 5831 World Multicultural: American Immigrant UHCL final exam assignment 2016

LITR 5831 Seminar in World / Multicultural Literature:
American Immigrant

 final exam assignment 2016

Model Assignments

(This webpage is the assignment for our seminar's final exam, to be reviewed and updated till 5 July.)

Official schedule: final class meeting, 7 July 2016, 3-6pm; no regular class meeting; classroom available for use. Instructor keeps office hours during class period.
Email submission window:
6-9 July
(same window applies to 2nd research post)
Relative weight: 40%(+-)
of final grade
Take-home email exam. Open-book, open-notebook.

Course grades are due to registrar following week; students will receive
final grade reports app. 1 week after submission.

Content: (details below) 2 essays of 6-9 paragraphs each

Essay 1: Review and focus seminar experience to demonstrate learning and preview extensions or applications in research, teaching, or writing (professional or creative).

Rationale: Essay 1 surveys, organizes, and extends a wider range of learning. Textual references may be more glancing or sweeping.

Essay 2: Choose a topic from list below, combine 2+ topics, or develop a topic of your own that refers to course texts and various objectives.

Rationale: Essay 2 goes for deeper focus and detail. Textual examples may be explored more thoroughly.

Overlap of Essays 1 & 2 with each other and your midterm is not automatically a problem. Essay 1 might preview Essay 2, and Essay 2 might refer to points made in Essay 1. Manage repetitions efficiently and consciously.

Special Requirements:

Title your essays.
Refer to objectives and instructional term-pages; develop, challenge, or vary in relation to your readings and analysis.
Somewhere in your exam, refer at least once to a final exam from previous semesters' Model Assignments: something you learned, disagree with, used as a model. More than one such reference can be impressive. You may refer to assignments besides the final exams, including this semester's research posts and midterms.
Somewhere in your exam (probably but not exclusively Essay 1), refer to at least one of your research posts as part of your learning experience or development of special topic.
No requirement for Works Cited except for special circumstances.

Essay Content Details

Essay 1: Review, focus, and extend overall seminar experience to demonstrate learning and preview potential extensions or applications in research, teaching, or writing (professional or creative).

Relevant course objective: Objective 1: To identify the immigrant narrative as a defining story, model, or social contract and recognize its relations to "the American Dream" and other multicultural narratives and identities.

Because the seminar attempts a comprehensive survey of American multicultural  literature and history, this essay assignment seeks a similar breadth of response by the student. You can't cover every possible group in thorough detail, but inter-relate various groups through varying relationships to the Immigrant Narrative and the USA's dominant culture. Explain the multicultural landscape surveyed by the course.

The following bullets are not a checklist but only potential prompts for essay development.

What are the pro's and cons of organizing our seminar subject in terms of the immigrant story as a cultural narrative that determines American identities, even for those who are not immigrants? What other alternatives to current organization?

What multicultural groups are excluded or alienated by the immigrant narrative? Given the numbers of such groups, are other comprehensive organizations possible?

Potential applications: What potentials and limits of immigrant experience as an organizing narrative of multicultural American literature (or, you want to go cultural, the prevailing American mentality or ideology?


At least 4 references to course texts that sample different groups surveyed; feature at least one minority text to reinforce immigrant-minority distinction

Review your own research post(s) plus or minus your midterm or midterms by classmates.

Consider references to post-midterm groupings of New World Immigrants (Mexican, other Hispanic / Latino, Afro-Caribbean) and 19th-20th Century Immigrants (Jewish, Irish):

Some other content approaches:

What did you learn about American multiculturalism? What did you come in knowing, and how does studying the Immigrant Narrative & variations confirm, challenge, or expand your knowledge?

Arrange your essay so that your progress in knowledge or reading works with some of our groupings like "model minority" immigrants, true minorities, New World immigrants, etc., or if you had a favorite objective or theme, run with that, but create a big picture of your understanding in relation to the course.

Another approach might be to describe the course to a stranger, a colleague, or a class of your own. But don't describe casually—organize thematically.

Essay 2: Identify a topic or combination of topics from list below, or develop a topic of your own that refers to course texts and various objectives.

Identify your topic (e.g. 2a, 2h) and rationalize selection with relevance to seminar, scholarly interests, career, etc.

Refer to at least 4 texts, one of which may be film or poetry

Outside texts OK for brief reference.

Connect to at least 1 course objective (or parts).

References to earlier student samples on similar subjects encouraged but not required.


2a. Describe how New World immigrants combine minority and immigrant narratives. (2-3 texts from 23, 27, & 28 June + 1 minority text & 1 Old-World immigrant text)

(Model Assignments for 2a: Marissa Carmack Holland, So Close, but Still So Far: New World Immigrants as Minorities; Heather Minette Schutmaat, The New World Immigrant Narrative: A Fusion of Immigrant and Minority Narratives

2b. Dominant culture: What glimpses and insights, with what worth? Why aren’t students inclined to recognize or discuss? What are the costs and benefits of identifying the USA’s dominant culture as another ethnic group rather than a norm? Mediate inclinations to regard dominant culture exclusively as either heroic norm or villainous exploitation. (Obj. 4.)

Model assignments for 2b: Carrie C. Scott, Bucking the Dominant Culture: The Elitism of “Other”; Daniel B. Stuart, Deconstructing the Dominant Culture: Defining the Difference Between Cultures and Social Identifications; Christine Moon, The Dominant Culture and the Evolving Future; Katie Vitek, The Ambiguity of Blame: Defining the Dominant Culture; Jonathan Anderson, What Conquerors Do

2c. Immigrant narrative / experience and family or gender experience; possible focus on women's identities and rights but contextualize with other aspects of immigrant narrative or history. (Obj. 5)

2d. Assimilation, Acculturation, Resistance, hybrid identities? "Assimilation" is widely-known but discredited. "Acculturation" sounds friendlier but is less current, while "hybrid" remains metaphorical rather than common-usage. "Resistance" is always dramatic or romantic but at the potential cost of dialogue or exchange.

2e. Revisit minority-immigrant distinction focusing on assimilation and intermarriage, possibly starting with article on intermarriage and including discussion of mestizo model of Hispanic culture vs. "purity" model of North American culture, + resistance to or variations on inter-racial marriage b/w dominant and minority cultures. (Obj. 5; model assignment: Mary Brooks, Love, Honor and Assimilate)

2f. Should multicultural literary studies emphasize formal excellence or representative inclusiveness? Should texts be selected for universal excellence or for marginalized or emergent voices? How much does "universal excellence" mean dominant-culture values? How much does representative inclusiveness threaten norms or standards? (Example from final classes: How much is Long Day's Journey a classic tragedy, and how much an expression of Irish-American culture?)

Model Assignments for 2f: Carol Fountain, Formal Excellence v. Representative Inclusiveness

2g. As a variation on 2f, write an essay on Narrative and Cultural Narrative—with particular focus on the Immigrant Narrative—as an organizing motif for multicultural literature. Some contents may resemble Essay 1's course overview, but concentrate more on narrative theory as a way to teach both fiction and history, both individual and collective stories.

2h. Combine one or more of the options above, or develop a question or topic of your own that refers to course texts and varies objectives. Acknowledge course objective(s) relating to your subject.

Model Assignments for 2h: Carlos Marquina, The Gatekeepers; Charles Colson, Immigrants: A Threat to American Identity?; Daryl Edwards, American Attitudes Toward Immigration: Some Things Never Change; Lori Wheeler, Immigrant Literature: A Problem That Needs to Be Fixed?

2i. Fiction-Nonfiction Dialogue.  Choosing two fiction and two nonfiction texts from our readings, how may fictional and nonfiction prose be distinguished from each other, and how may these different genres or modes represent the immigrant narrative similarly or differently?

Evaluation criteria for essays: Readability & surface competence, content quality, and unity / organization.

Readability & surface competence: Your reader must be able to process what you're reporting. Given the pressures of a timed writing exercise, some rough edges are acceptable, but chronic errors or elementary style can hurt.

Content quality: Comprehension of subject, demonstration of learning, + interest & significance: Make your reader *want* to process your report. Make the information meaningful; make it matter to our study of literature and culture. Reproduce course materials, especially through reference to terms, instructional pages, and objectives, but also refresh with your own insights and experiences. Avoid: "You could have written this without taking the course."

Thematic Unity and Organization: Unify materials along a line of thought that a reader can follow from start to finish. (Consider "path of learning": what you started with, what you encountered, where you arrived.)

general guidelines for exam grades