Border Crossings: Stories of Cultural Encounter and Migration to the U.S.

Discovery Core Experience: VLPA (DIV) Course

bordercrossings.jpgBCORE 104 9 (DIVERSITY CREDIT)

60-Second Syllabus: Border Crossings - Stories of Cultural Encounter and Migration to the U.S.VLPA Icon

About This Course: 

What perspectives are gained through migration? This course will examine stories about migration to the United States and the experience of straddling multiple cultures. These stories—by authors such as Gish Jen, Edwidge Danticat, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Mohsin Hamid, Nam Le, and others—offer diverse and layered perspectives on how race, ethnicity, and “foreignness” are constructed in the U.S. today.

Through reading fiction, short essays, and interviews, as well as watching the occasional film or talk, we will consider questions such as: How do artists navigate representing multiple identities, languages, and pressures to be culturally “authentic”? What is the power of storytelling to create or deconstruct boundaries? How should we encounter the stories of cultural others, and what can (and can’t) those stories do?

Why Should I Take This Course?

Encountering other cultural perspectives is part of all of our lives, both on and beyond our diverse campus. In part, this course will be concerned with learning how to learn about others’ perspectives, as prompted by the authors of our course texts.If you enjoy reading and thinking about multicultural identities, navigating cross-cultural differences, and/or issues surrounding migration to the U.S., this course is for you.

You will also be exposed to several contemporary authors who offer lenses for considering the systems of power that structure daily life in the U.S., including those of race, ethnicity, and language.  

Professor Liz Janssen (She/Her/Hers)

School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences


  • B.A., Liberal Studies, Antioch University Los Angeles
  • M.A., English, University of Washington
  • Ph.D., English, University of Washington


"In my courses, I aim to help students appreciate complexity and nuance, and to connect course skills and topics with contexts that matter to them." - Professor Janssen