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First-Year Seminar (101-6-21)


The American Border: Politics, Policy, Theology


Elizabeth S Hurd
Scott, #209

Meeting Info

Allison Residential Comm 1021: Mon, Wed 11:00AM - 12:20PM

Overview of class

This course is a study of politics, policies, and theologies of the American border, past and present. We pay special attention to the history of the U.S. border with Mexico, indigenous communities, law and the border, sovereignty, and the cultural, environmental, and religious politics of the borderlands. We consider border issues from multiple perspectives, including but going beyond issues of surveillance and enforcement. As a first-year seminar, the course also emphasizes critical research and writing skills to prepare you for college-level research and writing. You are strongly encouraged to consult a peer tutor at the Writing Place ( We will discuss academic integrity and get tips from a librarian on how to make the most of the library's resources during your time at Northwestern.

Class Materials (Required)

Valeria Luiselli, Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions (Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 2017).

Todd Miller, Empire of Borders: The Expansion of the U.S. Border Around the World (New York: Verso, 2019).

Rachel St. John, Line in the Sand: A History of the Western U.S.-Mexico Border (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2012).

Class Attributes

WCAS First-Year Seminar

Enrollment Requirements

Enrollment Requirements: Reserved for First Year & Sophomore only