Write 2 critiques for the following 2 essays. It just need to be 5 sentences for each one.
1. The autobiography that I chose is The Remarkable Life of Kitty McInnerney, and it describes Kitty’s life as an Irish immigrant in New York during the Great Depression. Of all of the many articles that I read, Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration by Pauline Jackson was the most useful for helping me to understand the lives of female Irish immigrants. Kitty’s life in Ireland was affected great by the famine, as her family were farmers and by the time she was born could no longer afford to house her. She was sent to live with the grandparents on their farm. In the article Jackson states that, “access to land was a life or death issue for the lower layers of the agricultural community. Those who had land held onto it. Those who were landless were locked out of the system” (Jackson, 1009). The famine which had affected Kittys family before she was born, would come to also affect her life, and the lives of almost all Irish women. Jackson also goes on to discuss the gradual drop in marriage rates in post famine Ireland. The fact that the proportion of single woman in Ireland continued to rise after the famine would have affected Kitty’s decision to immigrate to America. Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration portrays what life would have been like for female Irish immigrants, and many of the reasons why a young girl like Kitty would have chosen to make the voyage from Ireland to America, knowing that they would most likely never see Ireland or the family they left behind there ever again.
In addition to the assigned articles I also read Celebrating America and Remembering Ireland: Philadelphia’s Irish 1790-1850. This article helped me to greater understand the importance of community and the early foundation of Irish settlers and the beginning of Irish Unions. This article fails to closely relate to the subject matter in the autobiography that I read, which is what it would have been like for a young Irish woman to immigrate to New York, and the challenges she would have faced.
My third article was From Famine to Five Points: Lord Lansdowne’s Irish Tenants Encounter North. This article describes Irish life during the great famine, and the living conditions of those in Ireland who could not immediately get out. Lord Lansdowne had chosen to finance the immigration of all of the land laborers under his care and this article describes their journey to New York, and gives some hindsight into what their lives were like there. This article focuses much on Lord Lansdowne himself, and his choices, and does not give as much information on the specific families it describes. Of the three articles we chose ourselves Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration proved to be the most useful in helping me understand the lives of female Irish immigrants. Jackson’s article did the best job of giving direct insight as to why a young Kitty would have immigrated to America, while the others gave different and important backstory.
Bric, Maurice J. “Celebrating America & remembering Ireland: Philadelphia’s Irish 1790-1850.”Pennsylvania Legacies 14.2 (2014): 6+. Academic OneFile. Web. 26 Nov. 2015.
Anbinder, Tyler. “From Famine to Five Points: Lord Lansdowne’s Irish Tenants Encounter North America’s Most Notorious Slum.” AM HIST REV The American Historical Review 107.2 (2002): 351-87. Web.
Jackson, Pauline.”Women in 19th Century Irish Emigration.” International Migration Review 18.4 (1984): 1004. Web.
Of all the articles that I read in preparation for the final assignment, A Theory of Asian Immigration to the United States, by Philip Q. Yang, was the most important for my understanding of the people in my chosen autobiography. And though all the articles were helpful in enlarging my understanding of immigration topics in general, Yang’s article provided both specific and general direction for me to follow in my own research by laying out guidelines for both micro- and macro-level motivations for Asian immigrants to the United States.
In Yang’s article, he talks about general immigration theories used to analyze motivations for migrations of people across international borders. Seeing as how my autobiography, America is in the Heart, was written by a Filipino poet and labor activist, the prose contained therein was quite flowery and decadent, for lack of better words. A very beautiful and sweeping epic that chronicled the violent and harsh lives of Filipino immigrants to the U.S. during the early 20thCentury, it struck me in a very visceral and emotional way. It reminded me of my Grandmothers—Gladys, a native-born Hawaiian, and Rae, a Chinese immigrant—and filled me with feelings of despair and loneliness at every turn for these soft and open-hearted immigrants that were met with such discrimination and hatred at nearly every point in their lives in America. But, also, the autobiography was filled with the hope of a better life, perhaps lurking just beyond the reach of outstretched fingers, fleeting away from one menial job to the next, from one empty, soulless town to another.
Yang’s article put these emotions into perspective for me. He covered both general immigration theories–that tied donor Asian countries with America, how they were interconnected socially, politically, and economically–as well as specific theories that sought to elucidate those myriad and tenuous bonds between countries. He also continued previous theories of immigration and enlarged them to offer a singular model that encompassed all the important factors of immigration. Through this new model he integrated the previous (and incomplete) models of immigration to offer a model that made more sense of the artistic and emotional portrayal of the character’s lives in the autobiography.
Through his model in the article, Yang created a framework to which I could attach and sort my confused and personal feelings regarding immigration and its effects on immigrants, as well as offer explanations of the motivations that might have driven the characters in the book to immigrate. And although I did have a fairly nebulous understanding of why the protagonist in the book would seek to emigrate from the Philippines to America, Yang’s article was crucial for me to form a valid intellectual analysis of the novel and all of the hidden, subliminal motivations and messages contained within it.
Yang, Philip Q. 2010. “A Theory of Asian Immigration to the United States.” Journal of Asian American Studies 1-34.
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