Past Program

Oct 03 - Oct 09, 1998

From Melting Pot to Mosaic: The Changing Role of Immigration in American Life


This workshop addresses the changing role of immigration and assimilation in American culture. Immigration has had a profound impact on efforts of the United States to resolve issues of race, religion, and ethnicity, and it has likewise affected the very process of nation-building itself. Each wave of immigration -- the English, Irish, and German first, then the eastern and southern Europeans, and finally Asians and Latin Americans -- experienced often traumatic circumstances, until inevitably a measure of assimilation took place. Each group of immigrants brought its own culture, and contributed to the larger shape of American society, even as its members became Americanized and joined the mainstream over time. In the early years of the 20th century, Americans romanticized the notion of the melting pot, whereby idiosyncratic national qualities would be melted away and new immigrants would become real Americans. In more recent years, that formulation has been discarded, with recognition of the special contributions of each different group that have contributed to the larger whole. As migration again becomes a contentious issue, it is useful to examine its role in the development of the United States, and the effects of the cultural and analytical shifts that have occurred. The workshop will examine the ways in which, over time, America comes to acknowledge its pluralistic constitution and express its multicultural heterogeneity. There will be an electronic dimension to the workshop, whereby participants will use e-mail and develop familiarity with the Internet and the World Wide Web, and thus be introduced to new sources of information through on-line searches to enhance teaching and research. Emphasis will be placed on the means by which access to the latest technology on the Internet can be utilized in the classroom.