NLUS Spring 2022

Writing Migration: Chicago, Haymarket to 1968

January 18, 2022 – May 6, 2022

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:00 to 5:00 PM

Chicago is a city of migrations. Whether of goods, people, or ideas—from the anarchists of Haymarket to the Midwestern transplants in Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie to the Pullman Porters delivering the Chicago Defender in the Jim Crow South—Chicago has long been both a point of departure and arrival. This course will explore how migration stories have been told and circulated and then in turn how they shaped new movements in art, culture, and politics.

Indeed, most Americans presume the arts and industry to be at odds with one another when, in fact, they have not only grown in tandem but have been historically intertwined. For example, the architects who crafted Chicago’s iconic architectural style did so through their work on State Street’s retail giants; Chicago businessman We will begin with boomtown Chicago in the Gilded Age, when the city’s population doubled every decade, and more than three-quarters of its residents were either immigrants or the children of immigrants. We will then examine Modernist Chicago, when a new generation of artists and thinkers imagined the city in fresh ways, including writers such as Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks who both came to Chicago as part of the Great Migration. We will explore stories from the mid-twentieth century federal American Indian Relocation Program and conclude the seminar portion of the course with readings from the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s and ask once again about how these narratives of migration raise questions about whose stories or protests are heard and legitimized. Readings may Theodore Dreiser, Carl Sandburg, Mother Jones, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, Nelson Algren, Jun Fujita, Gwendolyn Brooks, William Cronon, Isabel Wilkerson, Liesl Olson, and Simon Balto, among others.  

Along the way, we will also explore the Newberry’s collections. With attention to questions of genre, point of view, and audience, we will consider accounts of and responses to migration, in fiction and non-fiction, in newspapers and maps, in letters and diaries. What sorts or things are in the archive, and what is left out, what topics, papers, documents, personal writings, etc? We will ask fundamental questions about the archive, particularly what journeys and intersections the archive records through its collections, its arrangements, and its absences. These questions will then propel students as they develop and write their own archival research essays in the second half of the course.

The Newberry Library is planning the Spring 2022 Newberry Library Undergraduate Course with the health and safety of its students, faculty, and staff as our first priority. The format and structure of the course may be adjusted due to the ongoing public health situation. For regular updates on Newberry operations during Covid-19, please check here.

2022 NLUS Faculty

Elliot Gorn

Elliott Gorn is the Joseph Gagliano Professor of American Urban History at Loyola University. His books and articles embrace multiple aspects of urban and American culture, particularly the history of various social groups in American cities since 1800. His major books include Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till (Oxford University Press, October 2018), Dillinger’s Wild Ride: The Year That Made America’s Public Enemy Number One (Oxford University Press, 2009); Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America (Hill and Wang, 2001, Korean edition, 2003), examine various aspects of urban life and city cultures in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century United States. Gorn has taught courses on the history of sports, Chicago, masculinity and gender, film, biography and autobiography, war in American culture, as well as the United States survey. Gorn has been the recipient of numerous national fellowships and awards and has been a scholar-in-residence at the Newberry Library since 1995.

Mary Hale

Mary Hale is the Assistant Director of Scholarly and Undergraduate Programs at the Newberry Library. She received her PhD in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she wrote a dissertation on Gilded Age fiction and politics, Democratic Conventions: The Politics of Form in the Gilded Age. At UIC, Hale served as Assistant Director of the First-Year Writing office and taught and designed numerous courses in early American Literature, African American Literature, and Asian American Literature. In 2016, she won an award for Distinguished Teaching from UIC’s English Department. Her essay on the political fiction of Mark Twain and Henry Adams appeared in American Literature, and an essay on the editorial career of Albion Tourgée is forthcoming in an edited volume, Race, Citizenship, and the Nation in the Literary Work of Albion Tourgée, from Fordham University Press. At the Newberry, Hale administers and develops programs for undergraduate and scholars at all stages of their careers.