Hist 820-99: Asia-US Migration (Online, Spring 2017)

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
e-mail: jdresner@pittstate.edu
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Office Hours: MWF 11-12, 1-2

The history of migration between Asia to the United States  is long, complex, and increasingly critical to our understanding of the past and present. This course will look at that history, emphasizing recent scholarship on diasporic networks and transnationalism.


History is about real people, diverse cultures, interesting theories, strongly held belief systems, complex situations, conflicts and dramatic actions. This information may be disturbing. Such is the nature of historical study.


In the event of a disparity between the original syllabus and online schedule, the online schedule will be correct. In the event of weather-related cancellations or other interruptions, you should continue to follow the syllabus schedule of readings and homework until and unless I notify you of changes. I reserve the right to change readings, test dates, due dates, grade weights and assignments as necessary throughout the semester.


For Purchase:

  • Erika Lee, The Making of Asian America: A History, Simon and Schuster (2015). ISBN: 978-1476739410
  • Gary Okihiro, Columbia Guide to Asian American History, Columbia UP (2001). ISBN: 9780231115117
  • Vinay Lal. The Other Indians: A Political and Cultural History of South Asians in America. UCLA Asian American Studies Center. 2007. ISBN-13: 978-8172236151
  • Madeline HSU, Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and China, 1882-1943 (Stanford University Press, 2000). ISBN-13: 9780804746878

Required, but available digitally through Axe Library.

  • Eiichiro Azuma, Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America, Oxford UP (2005) ISBN13: 9780195159417
  • Arissa H. Oh. To Save the Children of Korea: The Cold War Origins of International Adoption. Asian America Series. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2015. ISBN 978-0-8047-9532-6.

 Course Goals

Students will gain a strong background in the practice of history as done by professional historians and issues of world history. Students will apply their learning to the selection and execution of an in-depth historiographical essay.


All schedules, assignments, and policies in the syllabus are subject to change. Check the website, which will have the most current and accurate information possible, as well as copies of course handouts. Students are responsible for ensuring that the uploads have succeeded, files are functional, etc. If you have technical problems, contact the Gorilla Geeks help desk.

I will be using Canvas for announcements and assignments, and anything assigned for class will be linked from Canvas. While I do use the Gradebook in Canvas to help you keep track of assignments and communicate feedback, it is not used to calculate your course grade. If Canvas is temporarily unavailable, http://dresnerchina.edublogs.org will be the backup for course materials, and feel free to browse it for other useful material. If Canvas becomes unavailable for an extended period of time, we’ll figure something out.

While there is not set schedule for online courses, I am treating this as a twice-a-week course, with assignments and discussions generally due on Mondays and Thursdays. In the last section of the course, students will mostly be working on the seminar papers rather than scheduled readings and discussions.

Reading Assignments

For each book on the reading list, we will work through it in sections, with discussion boards. The discussion boards will be based on questions that I suggest, but these works are substantial and complex, so the boards are also for other issues that you notice and wish to bring up. There aren’t lectures in a course like this, but I will write introductions for each discussion board addressing some of what I consider interesting or important about the work, and you are more than welcome to respond to that as well.

Replies to at least two of your colleagues should be posted within 48 hours of the assignment deadline (but not before, so that everyone has a chance to post their initial thoughts). Comments must be substantive and civil. Questions are also permitted as comments, if there’s something unclear, or worth expanding on.


All assignments are due — posted or drop-boxed — by midnight of the date indicated (i.e., the end of the day) unless otherwise indicated. Since you have to complete the readings to do the assignments, you will want to make sure that you start doing them well before the deadlines.

Late work will be penalized, but late work is always worth more than no work.

Professionalism: Preparation, Attendance and Preparation

This is not just an online classroom: it is a work space, and you are adults. You are expected to be present and prepared, not only physically but intellectually, and to carry out your assignments in a timely and careful fashion. You are responsible for keeping track of assignments, due dates, and announcements made through the course website.

The earliest motto of Pittsburg State University was “By Doing, Learn.” The essence of scholarship is constructive engagement; the best learning comes from doing. It is very important that everyone keep up with the readings, and are prepared to think and talk and question and listen. The class should be a collaborative conversation, with a wide range of contributions; this requires respect and civility towards your classmates as well as your instructor. Specifically, students are responsible for responding in a timely fashion to each other’s postings with comments, arguments and constructive criticism. Asking good questions is an important form of participation. Asking questions which can be easily answered by referencing the syllabus, course website or textbooks is not.

Late assignments may be excused for illness or family-related problems, but only if I am informed in advance (email is fine) or you have documentation (such as a doctor’s note). Unexcused late assignments will affect your professionalism grade. Failure to complete assignments, or consistently sloppy or incorrect work, will also affect your grade.

There will sometimes be homework assignments which do not fall into the above categories which will be considered part of the professionalism grade. The first is that all students are expected to find the student information form on the course website, complete it, and email it to the instructor before the next class.

You should check your email at least daily: if you don’t use a university email account regularly, set it to forward mail to your preferred address. I check email regularly: you should hear back from me within 24 hours.


Students are expected to behave respectfully towards their peers and instructor. Online comments must be constructive and reasonable. Disruptive behavior will result in participation penalties. This does not mean that there can’t be lively discussions and disagreements, but personal attacks, vulgar language, threats, and failure to give others a chance to speak and be heard are not acceptable.

Seminar Paper: Historiographical Essay

Historiography is the study of history itself: the themes, growth, errors, changes and methods of historians. For this essay you will either examine the work of a particular historian who has made a significant contribution to the field, or you will examine a topic or school of thought within Asia-US migration history. You will need to come to a conclusion about the state of scholarship on the topic, as well as your own ideas for fruitful directions or new questions.

For the first assignments (Topic, Annotated Bibliography, Thesis/Outline) you will post your assignment in the appropriate discussion forum and you will comment on at least two other students’ assignments. The drafts (partial, complete, final) will be turned in directly to me through Canvas dropbox, though I will also create discussion boards for each if you want to consult each other or me publicly. I will repost the final version of all essays and each of you will read and comment on all of them.

Grading: Writing grades are based primarily on the strength of your argument as an answer to the question: thesis, evidence (completeness and handling), logic. Be careful to address a question thoroughly: for example, it’s not enough to say what the positive argument for your thesis is without addressing relevant arguments or evidence to the contrary. Clarity is crucial; structure is essential to a clear and effective argument. I am expecting real essays, with introductions, thesis, paragraphs, conclusions, etc. as appropriate to graduate-level historical work. Other assignments will be graded primarily on timely completion, evidence of appropriate work, and responsiveness to constructive feedback.

Topic Proposal due                                                                                                   3/13 (M)

A short description of the subject and basic issues you’ll be researching, as well as a discussion of how that topic is covered in Okihiro and other materials we’ve read.

Annotated and expanded bibliography                                                                  3/27 (M)

Starting with the resources in Okihiro, your instructor’s feedback and your own searches, put together a collection of scholarship and sources for your essay. “Annotation” means short commentaries making it clear to your readers the relevance and value of the sources for your paper, which means you need to have at least looked at these materials beyond the title.

Thesis and Outline                                                                                                    4/3 (M)

First, a clear statement — a paragraph, at most — of the issue, the state of scholarship, and your perspective. Then, an outline (bullet points, classic outline, short paragraphs, whatever format is clear and useful to you) explaining how you will present the material, and bring your reader to that conclusion as well.

Partial Draft  (10+ pages)                                                                                         4/13 (Th)

This is an incomplete draft, but it should be a substantial portion of the essay. It does not have to be the first ten pages. Include your outline (revised, no doubt) so that I can see where it all fits together and what remains to be done.

Complete Draft (20+ pages)                                                                                     4/24 (M)

While this may not be a finished paper, it should be a complete essay, with all major sections written, including introduction and conclusions.

Final Essay (20+ pages) due.                                                                                    5/4 (Th)

This is the finished product: thesis, argument, conclusion, citations (bibliography, too, though that doesn’t count for pages).

You are also responsible for reading and commenting on your colleagues’ papers during Finals Week.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this course. Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another person without proper acknowledgement. Plagiarism is intellectual theft; in an educational setting it is particularly repugnant. Plagiarism in my courses will be punished. It’s simple: Anytime you copy words into your own work, you must clearly mark them and acknowledge the source of those words. Anytime you use someone else’s ideas, you must admit it. There are three options: put it in quotation marks and footnote; paraphrase and footnote; or be original. If you have any questions or any concerns about citation format or necessity, ask someone who knows what they’re doing.

Other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated either, including the use of unauthorized aid on tests, failing to write one’s own papers, using papers for more than one course without permission. None of this precludes group study and discussion: those are actually really good ideas. Academic misconduct will result in zero credit for an assignment, and may result in failure of the course or other penalties.

For more detail, see the University Catalog: http://www.pittstate.edu/audiences/current-students/policies/rights-and-responsibilities/academic-misconduct.dot

Grade Distribution

Discussion 35%
Professionalism 20%
Historiography Assignments 15%
Final Essay 30%


  • Assignment format, requirements and due dates will be included in the assignment instructions: read them carefully, and ask questions well in advance of the due date if there is anything you do not understand.
  • For assignments submitted on Canvas, it is the student’s responsibility to confirm that all files are properly uploaded and complete.
  • For assignments which are to be turned in by email, I will send a confirmation email; If you have not gotten one in a reasonable amount of time (a day or so), it is your responsibility to confirm that your assignment was received.
  • In the event of an excused absence on an assignment due date, the student is responsible for turning in the work no later than the next class, unless other arrangements have been made.
  • Unexcused late assignments, due to absence, technical problems, etc., will be penalized up to one grade level (B to C, etc) per class period late.
  • Even very, very bad (or very late) work will get partial credit, which is a lot better than a zero
  • Plagiarism or other violations of academic honesty will result in zero credit on that assignment and may result in an F or XF for the semester depending on circumstances.
  • Grades are recorded on a standard 4-point scale, but Canvas does not allow that as an option, so the Canvas Gradebook will show grades converted to a standard 100-point scale. This doesn’t mean that each assignment is worth 4 points, or 100 points: grades are weighted as indicated above for their effect on the final course grade.
  • NOTE: I do post grades on Canvas, but the Canvas gradebook will not include some portions of the course grade, nor does the overall calculation accurately reflect grades. I will be happy to go over your grades and let you know how you are doing in the course at any time. Come to my office hours, or email me.
  • I reserve the right to adjust assignment or class final grade scales upwards (to students’ advantage) to reflect the performance of the class as a whole; I do not “curve” grades towards a target distribution, nor do I adjust grade scales downwards.


Administrative Deadlines and Instructional Holidays are in Italics
Assignments and Tests are in Bold

Date Reading/Assignments Topic
1/19 (Th) First Day of Class
Information Form, self-introduction, personal migration history.
1/23 (M) Okihiro, Part One (“Narrative Overview,” 1-40), Part Four (“Chronology,” 175-190), Part five (“Historiography,” 193-241)
Student Information Form Due
1/25 Last day for full fee refund
Last day to add new classes without permission
Last day for late online enrollment
1/26 (Th) Lee, Chapters 1-4 (to p. 108) Chinese immigration and anti-immigration
1/30 (M) Lee, Chapters 5-9 (pp. 109-207)
Final day for dropping course without grade report
Patterns of migration: Waves and Systems in the context of empires
2/2 (Th) Lee, Chapters 10-12 (pp. 211-279) WWII and the early Cold War
2/6 (M) Lee, Chapters 13-17, Epilogue (p. 283-end) Immigration and ethnic ity.
2/19 (Th) Hsu, Chapters 1-3 (to p. 89) Immigration History
2/13 (M) Hsu, Chapters 4-7 (p. 90-end) Transnational History
2/17 (Th) Azuma, Introduction, Chapters 1-4 (to p. 110). Immigration History: First Generation
2/20 (M) Azuma, Chapters 5-8, Epilogue (p. 111 to end) Immigrant and US-born nationalism.
2/24 (Th) Lal, Introduction, Chapters I-VI (to p. 52) Interaction Without Mass Immigration
2/27 (M) Lal, Chapters VII-XIII (p. 53-end) The open half-century
3/3 (Th) Oh, Introduction and Chapters 1-3, (to p. 111) “Christian Americanism”
3/6 (M) Oh, Chapters 4-6, Conclusion ( p. 112 to end) Nationalism and Internationalism.
3/9 (Th) Okihiro, Part Two (“Historical Debates,” 41-127), Part Three (“Emerging Themes”, 129-174) Research Topics
3/13 (M) D/F Grades Due Noon
Research Topic Proposal and discussion of relevant sections of Okihiro, etc.
3/20-24 Spring Break  
3/27 (M) Annotated bibliography, emphasizing materials not included in Okihiro  
4/3 (M) Thesis and Outline  
4/10 (M) Last day to drop individual course.  
4/13 (Th) Partial Draft  (10+ pages)  
4/17 (M) Final day for first draft of theses.  
4/24 (M) Complete Draft (20+ pages)  
4/27 (Th) Last day to withdraw from university  
5/4 (Th) Final Essays (20+ pages) due
Finals Week Comment on other papers, discuss


Advising is designed to help students complete the requirements of the University and their individual majors. Students should consult with their advisor at least once a semester to decide on courses, check progress towards graduation, and discuss career options and other educational opportunities. Advising is a shared responsibility, but students have final responsibility for meeting degree requirements.

Student Accommodation

Any student with a documented disability who would like to request accommodations should contact the instructor as early in the semester as possible. For more information, contact the Center for Student Accommodations (235-4309, csa@pittstate.edu).

“Dead Week”

I am aware of the University policy regarding the final week of classes before final exams. As per that policy, I have scheduled, as noted in this syllabus, the final draft of the seminar paper due in that week. Students should plan accordingly.

Syllabus Supplement

For official PSU policies and information about campus resources, notifications, attendance, financial aid, expectations, grades, etc., see: http://www.pittstate.edu/office/registrar/syllabus-supplement.dot (Spring 2017)