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Unit information: Strangers in the Land: Making America and Becoming American (Level I Lecture Response) in 2015/16

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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 Open




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

Description including Unit Aims

A 'nation of immigrants': dissecting this familiar cliche, this unit examines changing patterns of immigration and underlying motives; the main characteristics of the immigrant experience in the so-called promised land of milk and honey; the response of native-born Americans and how the warmth of the reception that newcomers received has varied according to time, place and type of immigrant. The process of becoming American and the experience of Americanization as the uprooted became resettled on the land and, later, in cities, is another key feature (dissecting notions of acculturation, assimilation, pluralism and multiculturalism). Looking beyond the immigrant experience itself, the creation of a shared sense of Americanism from disparate and scattered ingredients and the expression of this sense of self in cultural terms is another central concern.


  • To provide a broad grounding in the history of immigration into the USA, the process of becoming American and the experience of Americanization
  • To provide a particular perspective from the tutor to which students can react critically and build their own individual views and interpretations.

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 Information

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

Assessment Information

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

Reading and References

  • Archdeacon, T., Becoming American: An Ethnic History (1983)
  • Coates, P., Strangers on the Land: American Perceptions of Immigrant & Invasive Species (2006)
  • Dinnerstein, L., Natives & Strangers: A Multicultural History of America (1996)
  • Gjerde, J., Major Problems in American Immigration and Ethnic History (1998)
  • Kraut, A., The Huddled Masses (1982)
  • Taylor, P., Distant Magnet: European Emigration to the USA (1971)