Women and Citizenship – Thurs Sept 20

by admin - September 19th, 2018

All women were omitted from many of the privileges of early American citizenship, and some of them strenuously and articulately resisted. In addition, millions of women suffered under the double burden of being both female *and* enslaved. Even free white women used “slavery” as a way to talk about their legal predicament, and to advocate not only for abolition but for gender equality. We will read examples of eighteenth and nineteenth-century women’s writings on citizenship and legal rights, plus a short overview from a women’s history textbook. Continue reading →

We the People – Tues, Sept 18

by admin - September 18th, 2018

On Thursday 9/15 our class will focus on the Constitution, and on the “Constitutional moment,” i.e. the era and cultural milieu in which it was framed. Your reading is Waldman pp. 35-50 and also the full text of the US Constitution. You’ll want to bring both of these items to class, if possible. The Constitution can be found in the back of any US history textbook you have on hand, or you can print a copy from the web, or download it as a mobile app onto your phone.

Discussion Questions:

Are voting rights natural or granted? (i.e. are they in the Constitution, and if so, how defined?)
Should citizenship be linked to the right to vote?
Why the electoral college system?
Where / how often does the Constitution mention the words “citizen” or “citizenship”?

Colonial Origins and Legacies – Thurs, Sept 13

by admin - September 13th, 2018

For Thurs 9/13 we move from a generic, conceptual definition of citizenship to (in Bellamy’s terms) a more empirical examination of actual citizenship in the American colonies and early republic. Who could be a citizen? Who was deemed capable of consenting? Who actually represented whom and how?

The reading is Waldman, The Fight to Vote, chapters 1-2 (pp. 3-32). If you don’t yet have the book, it is placed on course reserve at the library’s circulation desk (not in the regular stacks; ask at the desk).

Questions to Guide Your Reading
(no response paper due)

PDF Packet (handed out in class)

If you’re able, bring the book to class, or take good notes and bring your notes.

Day 1 Info – Sept 6, 2018

by admin - September 6th, 2018

For next Tues: Read and prepare to bring / discuss Richard Bellamy, Citizenship: A Very Short Introduction and submit Response Paper #1 (editable Word doc). If you don’t yet own a copy, the book is available on 2-hour reserve at the Library Circulation desk (you will need your WSU ID to check it out).

Civics-Related Community Service Opportunity NEXT FRIDAY, Sept 14 for Constitution Day. We are looking for students who can spend the day at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Study of the Senate in Boston helping high school students with a mock debate about the pros and cons of Ranked Choice Voting (see here for more about this issue). The university will provide bus transportation to and from the event. See Dr. Hangen if you’re interested!

Some handy information to increase your citizen / civics knowledge

Practice for the Citizenship Test

Do you know who represents you in Congress? Search by zip code to find out

InformedVoterMA – a resource created by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters. Put in your address, see what your November midterm ballot will look like.

Current Massachusetts Districts (Federal and various State ones) — See all the old ones here

Check your Voter Registration (MA) Status or Apply for an Absentee Ballot

Online Voter Registration (MA)

National Archives resources to enhance Civics teaching and learning

Welcome to Fall 2018

by admin - September 6th, 2018

Welcome to Citizen Nation, Fall 2018! This semester we will explore three interrelated themes in American history and politics: the concept, meaning and contested history of citizenship; voting rights and how they’ve changed over time; and immigration and naturalization policy in the American past and present. Struggles over American citizenship have been at the core of the American story since its founding.

The guiding questions for this course are:

  • Who counts as an American citizen?
  • What does it mean to be an American citizen?
  • What rights, privileges, and responsibilities are part of that definition?
  • How have these changed over time?

The course is intended as a rigorous upper-level course that counts for CON, WAC and DAC across the curriculum. If you are taking it for LASC, it can count for USW or TLC. It is cross-listed as History *or* Political Science, and the course can also be taken as an Honors class if you are part of the Commonwealth Honors Program.

Take some time this week to study the syllabus and the course website in detail, and reach out if you have any questions or concerns. And get ready to get woke and work hard!

This website has been developed in previous semesters, so there is information from past years as an archive for those students. You can safely ignore anything not tagged with “Fall 18.”

Final Thoughts for Fall 2016

by admin - December 13th, 2016

See you at the final exam!

…and just wanted to share this beautiful graphic showing 200 years of US immigration:


Last Day of Fall ’16 Class, Thurs 12/8

by admin - December 7th, 2016

For Thursday, Dec 8 — Review your course notes in light of the final exam study guide, and read / think about these two recent articles that talk about the health of Western democracies. Can you connect these back to Bellamy’s book from the beginning of the semester? Because of what you’ve learned in this course, how informed an interpreter are you of news items you might run across, such as these?

Remember: Response Paper #6 is due in class. See the post below for writing prompt, addressing the course learning outcomes.

Amanda Taub, “How Stable Are Democracies?New York Times 11/29/2016


Eric Voeten, “That Viral Graph About Millennials’ Declining Support for Democracies? It’s Very Misleading,” Washington Post 12/5/2016

Bonus, if you feel like digging deeper (as I know you will): the article from which they’re both citing data 

Citizen Nation Today

by admin - November 23rd, 2016

Hope you have a relaxing Thanksgiving break! Here are the plans for the last 2 weeks of the fall semester – a close look at the current debate over immigration, naturalization, and refugee programs.

Tues 11/29 – The “Silent New Deal.” Reading: GC p. 264-287 and RV p. 217-233. Guest speaker: Luis Chaves, US-CIS Lawrence Field Office, to help us understand the current immigration/naturalization process.

Update: 10 Steps to Naturalization brochure from US-CIS

Thurs 12/1 Citizens v. “Illegals.” Reading: RV p. 246-257 plus “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” (Jose Antonio Vargas, NYT 6/22/11). Also take a look at Vargas’s website, DefineAmerican.com and/or his Twitter feed, @joseiswriting. If you’re curious about the refugee vetting process, here’s an official explanation. And just for fun, check out the very different Google results you get when you search “illegal aliens” vs. “undocumented immigrants” (2 different terms for the precise same group of people).

Update: 2015 maps and stats on National and State Trends on Immigration (Pew Research)

Due in class: Response Paper #5. Prompt: What are some of the fundamental problems in the current US immigration system? What are some of the proposed solutions? What are some of the perspectives in our political debate about immigration, naturalization, and refugee resettlement? How does immigration reform (or lack of immigration reform) affect you personally? What do you think/hope will happen in the next four years?

Bonus video: “Illegals is Not a Noun,” journalist Maria Hinojosa on MSNBC on 11/4/16

Tues 12/6 Citizen Lightning Round. Everyone will have precisely 2 minutes for a “Lightning Round” presentation on your CITIZEN web essay (10 points). Check the guidelines document for the options and grading criteria. Also due: an abstract + keywords for your project (150 words minimum / 200 words maximum — 10 points).

Thurs 12/8 Course Wrap-Up and Final Exam Review. Due: any finalized, revised version of your CITIZEN web essay.

Due in class: Response Paper #6 = course reflection paper. The student learning outcomes of this course were:

  • Develop a theoretical and interpretive framework for the concept of citizenship and how it has changed over time in the US
  • Analyze and compare key episodes in US history in light of dynamic or competing definitions of American citizenship
  • Explain the development of the US & MA constitutions in context of historical political processes, including: convention, drafting, ratification, amendment, judicial rulings, challenge, protest, and reinterpretation
  • Trace the expansion of the boundaries of American citizenship by constructing a well-researched historical narrative
  • Craft a historically informed personal understanding of one’s own citizenship

How well have you achieved each of these outcomes? What elements of the course helped your learning the most? The least? Are you more likely to vote or be politically involved/aware as a result of this course? What would your advice be to the students in next semester’s class?

Tues 12/13 – Final Exam, 8:30 – 11:30 am

Download Final Exam Study Guide

Votes, Rights, and Social Change

by admin - November 7th, 2016

Tues 11/8 Peer Review Day + Election Coverage
As election coverage streams in the background, we’ll have a peer review session on the drafts of the CITIZEN project. Be sure to bring a current paper copy of your project for others to look at and critique.

Thurs 11/10 Post-Election Debriefing
Prepare something specific to talk about in discussion from this week’s news; anyone could be called upon to share their thoughts on election results, news coverage, and what it all means.

The rest of this month, we explore what happened with citizenship and civil rights from the 1960s to the present. Remember this was a complex movement, or really – a set of overlapping movements – with different strategies, constituencies, and histories. It cannot be reduced to a few key figures or events, and it did not end with the 1960s or even in the 1970s. So it helps to think about the civil rights revolution as unresolved, unfinished, and ongoing, and as part of a shared American history no matter your background.

Tues 11/15 Rights Revolution
Reading: Back to both books – Good Citizen pp. 240-264 and Right to Vote 205-217. Due by the start of class: Final version of the CITIZEN project. Submission options: 1) as electronic document (.doc or .docx) emailed by 8:30 am with your last name in the filename, or 2) contact me if you want to post it directly to WordPress if you have strong skills with that platform.

Links for Today:
Voting Rights Act, post 2013 Shelby decision
Audio of “Where Do We Go From Here?” Martin Luther King, Jr 1967
Official Trailer for Loving (2016)

Thurs 11/17 We Shall Overcome, Part I + Soapbox #6
Soaps for today = Danny, Connor, Sophia, John, Jennie, and Janine

Instead of a reading, please watch the entire “Eyes on the Prize” episode 5 posted below (55 minutes), which covers the period 1962-1964, mainly focused on Mississippi. Take notes, and you might want to leave time to go back to certain scenes to make sure you fully understand this history and its timeline, including the main people and organizations.

Links for Today:
Jim Crow Voting Restrictions (PBS)

Tues 11/22 We Shall Overcome, Part II
Reading – Spend some time exploring one or more of these digital archives related to the civil rights movement. Due in class: Response Paper #4. Please write 2-3 pages analyzing something you found in one of these archives AND CONNECTING it to either the “Eyes on the Prize” episode or to something in the Schudson or Keyssar readings assigned for 11/15, in the form of a short coherent essay brought PRINTED to class.

Calisphere – Social Reform 1950-1970
Library of Congress – Civil Rights History Project
Library of Congress – Voices of Civil Rights
Civil Rights Digital Library
American Indian Movement 1968-1978 – Digital Public Library of America
Black Panthers Newspapers and Posters – Medgar Evers College

Update, Link from Class Discussion: Texas Textbook Deemed “Racist” Against Mexican Americans (Sept 2016); related = Texas School Board past struggles over historical content.

No class Thurs 11/24 – Enjoy Thanksgiving break!

Japanese American Internment Workshop 11/3

by admin - November 2nd, 2016

In your groups, explore the links / documents / digital artifacts below and record your group’s finding and impressions in this Google spreadsheet

1-4) Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive (JARDA) – People / Places / Everyday Life / Personal Experiences

5) Primary documents relating to relocation (National Archives, read the overview and scroll down to the list of documents)

6) Ansel Adams’ Photographs at Manzanar – Fall 1943 (Library of Congress)

7) War Relocation Authority Documents (Truman Presidential Library)

8) A More Perfect Union (Smithsonian)

9) 442nd Regimental Combat Team (recruited from within the camps) – photographs from Calisphere

10) Case files of claimants under the Japanese Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 (National Archives)

11) 1982 Report: Personal Justice Denied (National Archives)

12) Proclamation 4417, Gerald Ford 1976 (Ford Presidential Library)

13) Dr Suess Went to War political cartoons 1941-1943 (University of California San Diego)

Supreme Court cases:
14) Korematsu v. US (1944) | biography of Mr. Korematsu
15) Hirabayashi v. US (1943, reopened and vacated 1987) | biography of Mr. Hirabayashi
16) Yasui v. US (1943, reopened and vacated 1984) | biography of Mr. Yasui
17) Ex parte Mitsuye Endo (1944) | Ms. Endo’s story

Update, 11/16/16Carl Higbie interviewed on Fox News, citing internment as precedent for proposed Trump administration policy of Muslim registry.