What is needed is a dialog with the other peoples and cultures of the world
beyond anything seen before.

 
          
Michael Wood
          

Good fences make good neighbors.

     Robert Frost


In 1992, Rodney King asked his famous question, “Why can't we all just get along?” Asking that question has been much easier than answering it. Through most of human history, in fact, societies have had to get along with diversity and the challenges that accompany it. Some of the greatest accomplishments in human history have resulted from the interaction of different cultures; the same can be said of some of the greatest disasters. “Getting along” with diversity continues to be a major and controversial issue in the United States, even with the election of the first African-American president. How are Americans, in an increasingly diverse world — and within an increasingly diverse country — to define themselves and the society in which they live? Is the current influx of foreign immigrants and cultures into the United States a process that revitalizes the country, or is it a threat to its basic core values?

This course attempts to address some of these issues. The central focus is on how societies have defined their identities and dealt with the challenges of ethnic or cultural diversity, culminating with the experiences of the United States. While any number of cultures might be chosen for comparison, the course this semester will examine four societies, each of which has responded to the challenges of diversity in a different way. It will begin with Japan, historically one of the most ethnically homogeneous communities in the world. It might be said that the Japanese have dealt with diversity by denying it, an option possible to them because of their unique island location. The course will then look at traditional Islam and its dealings with non-Muslims. Rather than imposing religious conformity on everyone, early Muslims granted large populations of non-Muslims under their rule special dhimmi or protected status, leaving them free to live their lives but effectively marginalizing them from mainstream society. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, a state inhabited by eleven major nationalities, is the third society to be examined. The complex mix of nationalities in Austria-Hungary produced a brilliant culture, but its inability to create a common identity led to its disappearance from the European map in 1918. Finally, the course will look at the role of diversity in the development of the United States. While the United States has prided itself on being a “nation of immigrants” tolerant of all groups, it has also seen itself as a “melting pot” in which those groups were expected sooner or later to voluntarily relinquish most of their distinctive features in a common “American” identity. That apparent contradiction may underlie many of the controversies about multiculturalism and ethnicity in the United States today.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES AND OUTCOMES

At the end of the semester, the successful student will be able to:

1     Describe how the selected societies or groups have defined their own identities and values;
2  Explain the general mechanisms with which those societies have accommodated divergent groups or value systems;
Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of multicultural societies;
Analyze the role of immigration and diversity in forming the character of the United States.

FOR PURCHASE

Peter Duus, ed., The Japanese Discovery of America: A Brief History with Documents, Boston: Bedford Books, 1997.
Isaac Metzker, ed., A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward, New York: Schocken, 1990.

AVAILABLE ON MOODLE

Catherine Albrecht, “The Bohemian Question,” in Mark Cornwall, ed., The Last Years of Austria-Hungary, 2nd ed., Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002, 75-96.
Ayaan Hirshi Ali, “How to Win the Clash of Civilizations,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2010, A17.
Alastair Bonnett, “The Plus One Policy,” New Statesman, March 9, 2009, 30.
Amy Chua, Day of Empire, New York: Doubleday, 2007, xiii-xxxiv.
Cathie Gandel, “At 5 Feet 10 Inches, I Was Too Tall for Tokyo,” Newsweek, December 12, 2005, 16.
Yuka Hayashi and Sebastian Moffett, “Crack in the Door: Cautiously, an Aging Japan Warms to Foreign Workers,” Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition), May 25, 2007, A1.
David M. Kennedy, “Can We Still Afford to be a Nation of Immigrants?” Atlantic Monthly, 1996, 52-68.
The Koran, The Cow.
Bruce Masters, Christians and Jews in the Ottoman World, The Roots of Sectarianism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 16-40.
Hiroko Tabuchi, “Goodbye, Honored Guest,” The New York Times, April 23, 2009, B1(L).
Mark Twain, “Stirring Times in Austria,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, March 1898, 530-40.
Charles Fenyvesi, When the World Was Whole, Three Centuries of Memories, New York: Penguin Books, 1990, pp. 108-143.


ABSENCES AND GRADING

You won’t get much out of the course unless you come to class regularly and keep up with the reading assignments. Participation and discussion will be expected, both in the lecture and in the seminar portions of the course. Bear in mind that the McMurry Catalog defines three or more absences as excessive, after which a student can be administratively dropped from a class without further ado.

The grade scale will be A: 90 to 100, B: 80 to 89, C: 70 to 79, D: 60 to 69, F: 59 and below. For plus and minus grades, the following schema will be used: B-: 80-82, B: 83-86, B+: 87-89; A-: 90-92, A: 93-100; etc. There will be no A+ grades and no plus or minus grades for an F.

Your final course grade will be weighted as follows:

18% for each unit examination, a combination of objective and essay questions (72% total)
10% for each of two 2-3 page essays, one on Duus and the other on A Bintel Brief (20% total)
8% for discussion participation (including POP QUIZZES if people come to class unprepared!)

Students in this course are expected do original work. Plagiarism of any kind will not be tolerated and will result in an automatic failure for the assignment in question and may also result in dismissal from and failure in the course.

MOODLE

The reading assignments which you’re not buying are accessible from your Moodle account. You can access Moodle either from the pull-down menus on the McMurry homepage (from Current Students select My McM and then log in to reach the link to Moodle) or you can go there directly by typing http://moodle.mcm.edu. Once at the main Moodle page, find HIST 2300 PERSONS & COMM (Shanafelt) and click it. That should give a copy of this syllabus with links to all the articles in the assignment schedule.

STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

McMurry University abides by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which stipulates that no otherwise qualified student shall be denied the benefits of an education “solely by reason of a handicap.” If you have a documented disability that may impact your performance in this class and for which you may be requesting accommodation, you must be registered with and provide documentation of your disability to the Disability Services Office, located in Old Main Room 102. Arrangements will be made for students needing special accommodations.

PROPOSED LECTURE AND ASSIGNMENT SCHEDULE

Aug. 23
Aug. 25
Aug. 27
Introduction
Living with Diversity
Discussion
Amy Chua, Day of Empire
Ayaan Hirshi Ali, “Clash of Civilizations”

I. THE RISING SUN

Aug. 30
Sept. 1
Sept.
The Making of Japan
“The Electronic Tribe”
Discussion
Cathie Gandel, “Too Tall”
Duus, 1-42
Sept. 6
Sept. 8
Sept. 10
Sept. 10
First Encounters: The Momoyama Period
Closed Door: The Tokugawa Bakufu
ESSAY ON DUUS DUE
Discussion
Duus, 45-89
Sept. 13
Sept. 15
Sept. 17
The Opening of Japan and the Meiji Restoration
Contemporary Japan
Discussion
Duus, 117-133, 145-164, 179-183
Bonnet, “The Plus One Policy”
Hayashi and Moffett, “Crack in the Door”
Tabuchi, “Goodbye, Honored Guest”
Sept. 20 FIRST TEST

II. THE STRAIGHT PATH

Sept. 22
Sept. 24
“The Roots of 9/11”
Discussion

Sept. 27
Sept. 29
Oct. 1
The Rise of Muhammad
Shari'a
Discussion
The Koran, The Cow
Oct. 4
Oct. 6
Oct. 8
The Muslim Empires
Dhimmis and Jihads
Discussion
Masters, “Christians and Jews”
Oct. 11
Oct. 13
Oct. 15
Fundamentalist Islam
SECOND TEST
[Homecoming — no class]


III. THE MULTINATIONAL EMPIRE

Oct. 18
Oct. 20
Oct. 22
The Origins of the Habsburg Monarchy
Eleven Nationalities
Discussion
Mark Twain, “Stirring Times in Austria”
Oct. 25
Oct. 27
Oct. 29
The Politics of Nationality
Fin de Siècle Vienna
Discussion
Albrecht, “Bohemian Question”
Nov. 1
Nov. 3
Nov. 5
The End of the Monarchy
Eastern Europe Without the Habsburgs
Discussion
Fenyvesi, “When the World Was Whole”
Nov. 8 THIRD TEST

IV. THE NATION OF IMMIGRANTS

Nov. 10
Nov. 12
Was There an American Melting Pot?
Discussion
A Bintel Brief, 7-36
Nov. 15
Nov. 17
Nov. 19
Nov. 19
Worlds Left Behind
The “New Immigration”
ESSAY ON A BINTEL BRIEF DUE
Discussion
A Bintel Brief, 37-112
Nov. 22
Nov. 24-26
“Island of Hope, Island of Dreams”
[Thanksgiving vacation]

Nov. 29
Dec. 1
Dec. 3
Closing the Door
Multicultural America
Discussion
Kennedy, “Still a Nation of Immigrants?”
Dec. 8 FOURTH TEST (10:30-12:30)