About the Course

Syllabus: MHC 105 Spring 2015


The Peopling of New York MHC 150.00

Macaulay Honors College Spring 2015

Hunter College

Professor Margaret M. Chin                                             Office:    1617a HW
Mon 1:10-3:40pm   C111                                                   Phone:   212-772-4842
Office Hours: Mon 12—1PM                                            Email: mmchin@hunter.cuny.edu

Tech Fellow: Sara Martucci                                                    Office:    140 North Building
MHC Lounge hours: Thurs 12-3, by appointment     Email:   sara.m.itf@gmail.com

Course Description:

In the second Honors College Seminar, students will investigate the role of immigration and migration in shaping the city’s identity – past, present, and future. Topics to be considered include the factors that have driven and drawn people to New York since the 17th century; the different ways that religion, race, gender, and ethnicity have shaped immigrant encounters with the city; the formation and social organization of immigrant communities in such neighborhoods as the Five Points, the Lower East Side, Harlem, El Barrio, Little Italy, and Chinatown; the impact of successive waves of newcomers on urban culture and politics; and the continuing debates over assimilation and Americanization. Extensive reading and writing assignments will be enriched by visits to archives and other important sites. Each seminar will conduct research on a New York City community assisted in their work by instructional technology. All classes will come together several times during the semester to talk with distinguished faculty and others who study the city’s experience of migration and immigration.

Grading Procedures:                                          points                                   Grading

Class Participation:                                              10%     or 100pts           950-1000          A
Museum Visits/Tours:                                                                                         900-949            A-
Mus Chinese in America & Tour                      5%       or 50 pts            866-899            B+
Williamsburg, Bklyn Tour                                    5%        or 50 pts           833-865            B
Response paper 1(Salvo 2/4)                            5%        or 50 pts            800-832            B-
Neighborhood/Street project:                      30%      or 300pts            775-799            C+(neighborhood group paper, 15%;                                                                700-774             C
participation in website, 15%)                                                                        600-699            D
Oral History Assignment:                                20%      or 200pts
Take-Home Final Exam:                                    25%      or 250pts


1000pts total

*EC Response paper 2 (Helen Wan 4/15)                 5%         or 50 pts
*Extra Credit Response paper can be written on any extra lecture or guest event…(will be posted)


From Ellis Island to JFK- – Nancy Foner

Yale University Press and Russell Sage Fdn (2000) —EI

The Partner Track — Helen Wan

St Martin’s Press Press (2014) —PT

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

Vintage Books (2014) —WOS

Sewing Women: Immigrants and the New York City Garment Industry

Margaret M. Chin, Columbia University Press (2005) – SW

 Various articles posted online

New York Times Immigration stories and esp Chinatown Man, Williamsburg Bklyn stories —NYT


You are expected to do the assigned readings and participate in class discussions, something that is especially important since this is a seminar. Because immigration to New York is constantly in the news, and because pressing issues are always coming up, it is also important that students read stories about immigration that regularly appear in The New York Times. We will be discussing these on a regular basis in class. Also, of course, keep an eye out for any stories on Chinatown, and Williamsburg.

  1. Tours reports: Also, students will hand in a 1-2 page written report on their tours to Williamsburg, and the Chinatown tour / Museum of Chinese in America visit. All write-ups should be handed in one week after your visit or at the next class meeting.
  1. Response papers: Students will be expected to write a 1 page response paper on a lecture or presentation – such as Joe Salvo, Helen Wan or the Fresh off the Boat viewing. Every paper written after the first will be given extra credit points.
  1. Oral History Assignment: Each student should interview a close relative about reasons for their family’s decision to emigrate, the choice of the United States and New York City, the experience of migrating and the process of settling in NYC. The interview should be taped and written up with a summary. A 5 page paper should be written comparing their experience to immigrants that we have read about. How is their experience reflected in our readings? If it is not, please explain why? Paper is due Monday March 9th– no extensions.
  1. Neighborhood film documentary project: students will be divided into 2 neighborhood groups assigned to Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Chinatown, Manhattan.

For each of the groups, create a documentary film that tells us How the two neighborhoods are changing in terms of the population (Chinese moving out of Chinatown and Non-Chinese moving in and the Williamsburg, the income of these groups, the jobs the residents have and the services that these populations use, the stores they shop from, the schools they go to…. Gentrification…

Topics (here is a sample list) that you may want to concentrate on for your documentary film:

  • Establishments, local community organizations, religious institutions, housing, political representation, social cultural (other topic areas)
  • we have 21 students, two areas and five topics (each group will have 2 or 3 people).

March 16, 2015—Each topic group should define their research (a draft which will be used a basis for final summary pages).
i.e. Area—includes borders of the neighborhood and why you define neighborhood as such
Topic – what is to be investigated and how you will collect information (methods used)
March 30, 2015— give short class presentations and review data collected in class and on what your groups have discovered—review before Spring Break.

The final documentary should be accessible – to those who know the communities and those who do not. Class members will present on the last two days of classes Monday 5/4 and 5/11.

  1. Take-home final exam: handed out on the last day of class Monday 5/11. It will be due by Monday 5/18 – no later than 5pm. You may hand it in earlier.

Plagiarism: Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The college is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.


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