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Americans have long taken pride in being a nation of immigrants, pointing to the inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty taken from the poem by Emma Lazarus, reading in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” and taking pride in identifying themselves as hyphenated Americans (e.g., Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans).
The pride of being a nation of immigrants has been incorporated into the idea of American exceptionalism and America being founded on an idea, rather than blood lines. At the same time, America has been the home of persistent anti-immigration sentiment, at times bordering on xenophobia and outright violence.
This seminar will explore the history of these two competing ideas and the search for a middle-of-the-road of accommodation and acceptance of various minorities and their place under the “sacred canopy” of being Americans.
Bryan Le Beau, retired Provost, Vice President, and Professor of History at the University of Saint Mary, is an adjunct and reading professor at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Georgetown University. He is the author of several books and articles on American cultural history.
Erika Lee, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. (Basic Books, 2019). ISBN: 9781541672604
Please read the Introduction of America for Americans for the first session, distributed by the instructor. Other readings will be recommended for each session.