For decades, debates over immigration, border walls, and asylum have generated more heat than light. Why do passions run high even when migration rates are low? Despite often contrasting wildly with the actual reality of borders and migrants, narratives and discourses about the border are themselves powerful forces that profoundly affect the fates of individuals, families and communities. Through a series of films, long-form journalism writings, and social scientific readings, we will explore the construction and consequences of four kinds of border stories: (1) War stories about invasions, frontiers, and homeland security; (2) Horror stories about migrant death and organized crime; (3) Science-fiction about technology and surveillance; and (4) Love stories about family connections and the “constellations of care” along the migrant trail. You will learn how to critically evaluate and present these kinds of stories for a general audience.
As a writing-intensive course, students will work on four different kinds of assignments, described below. Students will write and edit regularly outside of class, and present their work in a workshop format to seminar participants. Class members will serve as either author or editor during each week of the course, working collaboratively to improve their own and each other’s work. The ability to write and edit in multiple genres is a skill that will be applicable across many fields and professions. Additionally, this class will refine your skills as a consumer and producer of knowledge.