American Immigration History

American Immigration History

Led by: Prof. Madeline Hsu (University of Texas at Austin)
Course Number: AMHI 680
Semesters: Fall 2023, Fall 2021, Spring 2020



Image: “The New Immigrant Station on Ellis Island,” Harper’s Weekly, January 19, 1901 (The Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC09790)

Photographs in Harpers Weekly showing scenes from Ellis island

Course Description

Widely considered a wellspring for US greatness, immigration has also been an abiding site of our deepest conflicts. The republican foundations of the United States with its promises of democracy and equality for all seem to strain against high numbers of immigrants from parts of the world barely conceived of by the Founding Fathers, much less as sources of new citizens. What is the breaking point for the assimilating powers of US democracy, and how much does national vitality rely upon continued influxes of a diversity of immigrants with their strenuous ambitions and resourcefulness? Today we remain embattled by competing beliefs about how immigration shapes our nation’s well-being and to what ends we should constrain whom we admit, whom we exclude, and who can become citizens and in what numbers. This course guides students to better understand the terms by which immigration functions as a core aspect of US national identity and its contested history into our present quandaries.

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Lecture Preview

Lecture 1: “Natives and Migrants in Colonial America: Major Themes in Immigration and Ethnic Studies”

About the Scholar

Madeline Hsu, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin

Madeline Y. Hsu is professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin and served as director of the Center for Asian American Studies for eight years (2006–2014). She is president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and vice president of the International Society for the Study of Chinese Overseas. She was born in Columbia, Missouri, but grew up in Taiwan and Hong Kong between visits with her grandparents at their store in Altheimer, Arkansas. She received her undergraduate degrees in history from Pomona College and PhD from Yale University.