The MacArthur Foundation calls transnational immigration “the defining characteristic of the twenty-first-century.”  Worldwide, the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs reports that well over 200 million people live outside their nations of birth, a number that continues to grow with advances in transportation and technology. And the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees counts 70 million people as forcibly displaced, the highest number ever recorded.

Performance of Ping Chong's "Undesirable Elements"

Performance of Ping Chong’s “Undesirable Elements”

While the institute features examples from the California context, we encourage Summer Scholars to bring texts (including historical documents, videos, or literature) from their home regions of the country for consideration at the institute.  We will also introduce NEH funded Summer Scholars to a number of active, engagement techniques that might be used to explore literary and humanities-related topics in the classroom.

Among the highlights of the institute are discussions with leading scholars and artists in the broad field of immigration studies. Some of these discussions will take the form of workshop colloquia in which faculty will introduce Summer Scholars to the techniques they use in teaching and creating work on the theme of immigration. At the end of the institute, Summer Scholars will have the opportunity to make and present their own historical, literary, or theatrical work on immigration. Summer Scholars will also create a lesson plan that could be used in a classroom setting in the future.

The institute consists of the following activities:

  • Discussions of historical, literary, and theatrical texts that pertain to the migrant experiences under consideration (Mexican, Chinese, Afghan, Vietnamese, Iranian, Filipino);
  • Participation in theatre workshops and colloquia intended to deepen our understanding and appreciation of the texts and topics of the institute;
  • The creation of a classroom lesson plan and a literary or historical piece related to the topics of our institute, made in consultation with Institute faculty and uploaded to this website three weeks after the conclusion of the Institute;
  • Fieldtrips around the San Francisco Bay Area: Angel Island, San Juan Bautista, and walking tour of downtown San Francisco.
Field Trip to Angel Island

Field Trip to Angel Island

By the end of the institute, Scholars will create implementation plans consisting of: (1) a classroom lesson plan on a topic related to immigration, and (2) an historical, literary, or otherwise creative work that could be shared in an educational or professional setting in the future. Scholars will create these implementation plans in consultation with institute faculty and will share them with each other on the last day of the institute. Scholars are asked to post their implementation plans on the institute website three weeks after the close of the institute.

Primary reading that will be mailed to NEH Summer Scholars at no cost to themselves:
  • Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner
  • Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior
  • Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suit
  • Andrew Lam’s Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora
  • Francisco Jiménez’s The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child
  • Ping Chong’s Undesirable Elements: Real People, Real Lives, Real Theatre
  • Judy Yung’s Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940
  • Erika Lee’s The Making of Asian America 
  • Matthew Spangler’s The Kite Runner (stage play, Bloomsbury/Methuen)
  • Jasmin Darznik’s The Song of a Captive Bird
  • Janine Joseph’s Driving without a License
  • Luis Alfaro’s Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles

NEH Summer Scholars are also be provided with the titles for supplementary reading, should they wish to pursue certain topics in more detail on their own.

Additional readings, articles, and short stories will be distributed in electronic format.