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Immigrant Literature: Suggested Works

A query for suggested materials for a cultural studies course in
immigrant literature (autobiographies, anthologies, films, etc.)
gave rise to the following suggestions, which focus on women's
experiences.  They were offered on WMST-L in October 2002.  For
additional WMST-L files available on the Web, see the
WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 2002 12:48:00 EDT
From: LinKnutson AT AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
Hello listserv members,
I am in the process of preparing a course on Immigrant Lit that will have a
cultural studies focus, and I am looking for suggestions for fiction,
autobio, anthologies, films, and other documents that present a variety of
experiences in coming to the U.S. I will be focusing on both the "new
immigration" period of 1890-1924 and current immigration policies and lit
from the 70s to the present.  We will compare/contrast international and
involuntary immigration,  issues of nationalism, gender, and language at the
beginning and end of the 20th century. I'm looking primarily for
first-generation experiences. I would appreciate any suggestions.

Lin Knutson
Assistant Professor
Department of English
Southeastern Louisiana University
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 17:37:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
these three worked very well in an undergraduate course:

Eva Hoffman  Lost in Translation
Julia Alvarez How the Garcia girls lost their accent
Esmeralda Santiago When I was Puerto Rican

Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 17:08:49 -0700
From: Marilyn Edelstein <MEdelstein AT SCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
For the period and focus you are concentrating on, one relevant writer
I'd recommend is Anzia Yezierska (most of whose work is fiction,
officially, but very autobiographical)--a Jewish immigrant from Russia
during the early part of the 20th c.  Her novel _The Bread-Givers_
would work, as would her wonderful short story "America and I" which
is in the _Heath Anthology of American Lit._ Vol. 2 and some other
anthologies as well.

Marilyn Edelstein
Associate Professor of English
Santa Clara University
Santa Clara CA 95053
medelstein  AT  scu.edu
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 20:33:30 -0400
From: silver_ak AT MERCER.EDU
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
I taught a course on multicultural women's lit lately and did several
books of immigrant lit.  I'd recommend the following:

Alvarez, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents
Hong Kingston, Woman Warrior
De Rosa, Paper Fish (I can't recommend this gorgeous Italian-American
novel enough--amazing)
Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies (also beautiful, teaches very well)
Danticat, Breath, Eyes, Memory (also a winner, students love it)
Ultskya, The Funeral Party (Russian-American--I haven't taught it yet,
but will next time I do the course)

I couldn't find a great anthology, but you could consider using the
Longman ANthology of WOmen's Literature, which has a good
multicultural selection.

Good luck--I really loved teaching this course and hope that you will


Dr. Anya Krugovoy Silver
Assistant Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies
Mercer University
1400 Coleman Ave.       "A world understood/is a tiny world."
Macon, GA 31207-0001                     Dorothy Barresci
(912) 752-5641
silver_ak  AT  mercer.edu
Date: Sun, 20 Oct 2002 21:59:24 -0400
From: Edvige Giunta <egiunta AT njcu.edu>
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
Here are some readings/videos that deal with Italian American immigrants
(some of the authors explore ethnic/racial intersetions, like Ragusa, Rossi,
Pretolani, and Gangemi; they all deal with immigration through gender and

Kym Ragusa, fouri/outside (video)
Mary Cappello, Night Bloom (memoir)
Susan Caperna Lloyd, The Baggage (video)
Tina De Rosa, Paper Fish (novel)
Helen Barolini, Umbertina (novel)
Louise DeSalvo, Vertigo (memoir)
Renata Gangemi, Talking back (video)
Luisa Pretolani, Things I Take (video)
Luisa Pretolani, Italian American Presences (video)
Agnes Rossi, The Houseguest (novel)

The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture,
eds. Louise DeSalvo and Edvige Giunta (anthology)

I also recommend, for Arab American literature, Joanna Kadi's anthology,
Food for our Grandmothers: Writings by Arab American and Arab Canadian
Feminists and Thinking Class, and by Suheir Hammad's Drops of This Story.

If you need more detailed information on any of the above, please email me

Edvige Giunta
egiunta  AT  njcu.edu
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 09:08:05 -0400
From: Lisa Schwartzman <lhschwar AT msu.edu>
Subject: Immigrant Lit suggestion
On Sat, 19 Oct 2002, LinKnutson  AT  AOL.COM wrote:

> I am looking for suggestions for fiction,
> autobio, anthologies, films, and other documents that present a variety of
> experiences in coming to the U.S.

You might want to use Elana Dykewomon's _Beyond the Pale_.  It's a
historical novel about Jewish lesbians who immigrated to the
U.S. around the turn of the century.  Although I've never taught this
book, it was an interesting and enjoyable read and it sounds like it
might work well in your course.

Lisa Schwartzman
Department of Philosophy
Michigan State University
e-mail:  lhschwar  AT  msu.edu
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 09:24:12 -0400
From: John Landreau <landreau AT TCNJ.EDU>
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
     Let me add Junot Diaz's collection of stories -entitled Drown - about
the experience of dominican immigrants in NY to the growing list. The
stories are well-crafted, and provoke a lot of student response. I
use some of the stories in my Men and Masculinities class because, in
addition to issues of language, culture and place, many of the
stories have a very teachable gender piece to them... john

John Landreau
The College of New Jersey
Modern Languages and Women's and Gender Studies
landreau  AT  tcnj.edu
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 09:57:56 EDT
From: Claire Kirch <ClaireinDuluth AT AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit
Turnip Blues by Helen Campbell (Spinsters Ink, 1999 or so) is an absolutely
terrific novel about a first-generation, working-class "Hunkie" family in
Pittsburgh. I loved this book, it is a great read and is based on the life of
the author's aunt.

Claire Kirch
Duluth, Minnesota
ClaireinDuluth  AT  aol.com
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 09:51:45 -0400
From: Geetanjali Singh Chanda <geetanjali.chanda AT YALE.EDU>
Subject: Re: Immigrant Lit suggestion
 > I am looking for suggestions for fiction,
 > autobio, anthologies, films, and other documents that present a variety of
 > experiences in coming to the U.S.

  Bharati Mukherjee's novel "Jasmine" about an Indian girl coming to
America. Or the earlier "Wife".
Also Bapsi Sidhwa's novel "The American Brat"
Shirley geok Lim's memoir "Among the White Moon Faces" (Malay/Singaporean

If you were also going to include Canada then you may want to look at short
stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin - If i remember correctly the collection is
called "The English Lesson and Other Stories".
If anyone compiles a list of these i am also interested in the topic but
mainly in Short Stories dealing with the family.

Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Women's & Gender Studies
Yale University

geetanjali.chanda  AT  yale.edu
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 10:01:56 -0600
From: "Grotzky, Marilyn" <Marilyn.Grotzky AT CUDENVER.EDU>
Subject: FW: Re: Immigrant Lit
Our Women's Studies bibliographer thought this might be of use.  It's
an annotated bibliography, and there's a chance that Roberta Simone is
on the list and could provide more information.

And yes, the librarian who chooses books for Women's Studies at our
library is a man -- the Institute for Women's Studies and Services has
honored him as a Friend of the Institute.

Marilyn Grotzky
Auraria Library
Denver, CO

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Archibeque, Orlando
> Sent: Monday, October 21, 2002 9:39 AM
> To: Grotzky, Marilyn

> Subject: RE: Re: Immigrant Lit
> Marilyn,
> Here's one that might be useful.  I've never seen this, and
> it's checked out so I can't inspect it.  Feel free to send
> her this suggestion if you like.
> AUTHOR       Simone, Roberta.
> TITLE        The immigrant experience in American fiction :
> an annotated
>                bibliography / by Roberta Simone.
> IMPRINT      Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1994.
> DESCRIPT     xiii, 199 p. ; 22 cm.
> NOTE         Includes bibliographical references and index.
> SUBJECT      American fiction -- Bibliography.
> SUBJECT      Emigration and immigration in literature -- Bibliography.
> SUBJECT      Immigrants in literature -- Bibliography.
> Lando
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 10:17:12 -0700
From: Barbara Watson <mbwatson AT MAIL.SDSU.EDU>
Subject: Immigrant Lit
A moving account of a  female Japanese immigrant is given in:

Tanaka , Michiko. 1981. Through harsh winters: the life of a Japanese
immigrant woman [as told to Akemi Kikumura]. Novato, Calif.: Chandler and
Sharp. It may be out of print but it is certainly worth searching for.

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