LITR 5831 World Multicultural: American Immigrant UHCL research posts assignment 2016

LITR 5831 Seminar in World / Multicultural Literature:

American Immigrant

research posts assignment 2016

Research Posts (2 installments + review in final exam) (app. 25% of final grade)

First research post due by evening of Wednesday, 15 Junelate (not very late) submissions accepted if student informs instructor:

Window for email submission of final exam and second research post: Wednesday, 6 July-Saturday noon, 9 July.

Content: the best introduction to this assignment is to review previous student submissions at model assignments.

Research Posts 2014

Research Posts 2012

Research Posts 2010


Write and email two “adventures or experiments in research.” These exercises must be relevant to our subject matter but may reflect your personal and professional interests. Try connecting to Literature, but not absolutely required—posts may move into history, sociology, anthropology, etc.

Essential information: Research posts are not essays of literary criticism but reports on your research findings on criticism or history concerning American immigrant literature and / or culture.

Most typical mistake: Students want to write a personal analysis of texts we're studying or might study because that's the kind of writing they're familiar with in a Literature course. That approach is an essay, not a report.

Your final exam will summarize and assess these research experiments as part of your overall learning experience.

Only absolute stipulation for content: your subject must have something to do with immigrants or immigration. You cannot write about a minority group (African Americans, Native Americans, indigenous Latino/as in American Southwest) without connecting your discussion to the larger subject of immigration. (However, you could write about Afro-Caribbean immigration, Native American migration experiences, or early Spanish-American immigration.) Discuss with instructor.

You may write on the same topic or related topics for both posts, but not required. Some students write two posts on very different topics, while some students start a topic in their first post and continue it in the second.

Length: at least 4 paragraphs, plus or minus bibliographic information. You may write more than 4 paragraphs, but beyond 6 or 7 paragraphs may push the assignment too far.

Bibliographic requirements and information + Works Cited / Bibliography?

At least 4 sources, at least some of which should be from reputable scholarship and not just amateur internet postings.

Your sources may include print, Web, or personal (as in an interview, lecture, conversation, or anecdote). For interviews, consider calling a former instructor who might know about your subject, or someone with personal experience.

You may use 1-2 previous posts from Model Assignments as research sources, or look at their sources to find research possibilities.

You may also use one of our course's instructional pages (e.g. term-pages). 

Some primary research may be involved, and you may mention the impact of your research on your own interests, insights, and conclusions, but your report mostly summarizes secondary and background research. (See primary, background, & secondary research.)

MLA style is expected, but instructor doesn't over-emphasize precise documentation style, as it's not the purpose of the assignment. As long as the instructor can find your source, you're doing "due diligence."

Information may be included in text or more completely in listings at end of post. As the Model Assignments demonstrate, some research posts feature a Works Cited at the end; others provide documentation as they cite in the text; and others do some combination.

At least a couple sources should be from reputable scholarship and not just stray internet postings. Published scholarship and reference books from the library show the most prestige and professionalism, but . . .

for some subjects consider interviews with experts or practitioners. For instance, some teaching issues may offer little research, so interview someone who may have more knowledge, like a former teacher or professor.

Organization, Content, etc.:

Title your entry to serve as a link. Title should indicate content. Title may take the form of a question.

1st paragraph: Introduce and frame a question you want to answer or a topic you want to know more about. Explain source or background of your interest; what you already knew on subject, how or where you learned it or were alerted to it, etc. These backgrounds may be personal as well as educational or professional. At some point in this introductory paragraph, a statement of the question you’re trying to answer should appear.

2nd and 3rd paragraphs: describe your search for answers to your question or topic of interest. Locate, describe, and evaluate at least two sources in some detail.

Your content may change directions according to what you learned instead of what you expected to learn. You may attempt some brief analysis or opinion, but the main purpose is to describe, summarize, and share information in an interesting and readable way.

4th paragraph: What is the answer to your question? Your “answer” may take a variety of forms, as long as you demonstrate learning.

You may find a definite answer to your specific question.

You may learn you’ve asked the wrong question, then conclude by revising your question.

Summarize and evaluate what you have learned, and consider your next step if you continued research along this line.

These paragraph descriptions above are only guidelines, not absolute rules.

Your two posts may change subjects or continue a single subject. Remain aware of need to discuss your research posts as part of final exam essay on your overall learning curve.

Choosing a topic or topics: Before either post, welcome to email instructor regarding choice of topic(s) for 1st & 2nd posts. Previewing with instructor does not commit. Topics for research posts evolve as research is carried out.

Grading: Grades for research postings are not returned until Final Grade Report. The grade is based on readability, interest, and quality of research. (By interest, I don’t mean whether I would have chosen the topic, but how well the report generates and sustains interest.)

The first research post will only be replied to with a brief note of receipt and review; your only grade for your research posts will be a composite grade for both. Review further by request or in conference.

early 20c Moroccan immigrants












Official schedule: final class meeting, 7 July 2016, 3-6pm; email submission window: 6-9 July (same window applies to 2nd research post)

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

Relative weight: 40%(+-) of final grade  

Format: Take-home email exam. Open-book, open-notebook.

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

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).

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.

(Don't fear some overlap between the two essays; cross-reference for efficiency? Essay 1 might preview Essay 2, and Essay 2 might refer to points made in Essay 1. Manage repetitions efficiently and consciously.)


Attendance not required on 7 July. Classroom available for student use. Instructor keeps office hours during class period, 3-6 7 July. Welcome to visit, phone, email re midterm or otherwise.

Submit email exam any time after 6pm, Tuesday, 6 July. Deadline for email submission is noon Saturday, 9 July. If problems, communicate.

Special Requirements:

Title your essays.

Refer to objectives and instructional term-pages; develop, challenge, or vary their meanings 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 is often impressive. You may refer to assignments besides the final exams, including this semester's research posts and midterms. More than one such reference is impressive and usually helps substantiate or extend your ideas or examples.

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.

Rationale for Essays 1 & 2

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

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.

You may refer to, extend, or rethink anything you wrote in your midterm; welcome to regard these essay assignments as extensions or complements to your midterm essays and as opportunities to develop ideas you started there.

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 assignment seeks a similar breadth of response by the student. You can't cover every possible group in thorough detail, but you can inter-relate our various groups through their varying relationships to the Immigrant Narrative and the USA's dominant culture. The essay will be evaluated on the quality of its writing and reference to our shared texts and objectives, but also for its attempt to comprehend 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 narratives may correspond? (rags-to-riches, American Dream, coming-of-age / initiation / conversion narrative, liberation / emergence). 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 and 19th-20th Century Immigrants:

Refer to at least one final exam or other submission from a previous course.

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

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 19, 23, & 24 June + 1 minority text & 1 Old-World immigrant text) (Model Assignments: 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 won’t students 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 decadent exploitation. (Obj. 4. model assignments: 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: 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.  

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

Evidence & extension of learning: All exams must competently use central terms and themes from objectives with text-examples from lecture-discussion or your own reading. Knowledge beyond the course and on-the-spot inventiveness are impressive, but establish mastery of our course’s essential materials. Beware being told, "You could have written this essay without taking the course." As for extension of learning, the best exams comprehend but also refresh the course’s terms, objectives, and texts with the student's voice, insights, and examples from and beyond our course.