The Makings and Unmakings of Americans: Indians and Immigrants in American Culture

January 29, 2024

Cristina Stanciu and book cover
Cristina Stanciu

Meet VCU Authors: Cristina Stanciu, PhD

Start time: 12:00 p.m.

End time: 1:00 p.m

Location: Virtual

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In this cultural history of Americanization during the Progressive Era, Cristina Stanciu argues that new immigrants and Native Americans shaped the intellectual and cultural debates over inclusion and exclusion, challenging ideas of national belonging, citizenship, and literary and cultural production. Deeply grounded in a wide-ranging archive of Indigenous and new immigrant writing and visual culture—including congressional acts, testimonies, news reports, cartoons, poetry, fiction, and silent film—this book brings together voices of Native and immigrant America.
Stanciu shows that, although Native Americans and new immigrants faced different legal and cultural obstacles to citizenship, the challenges they faced and their resistance to assimilation and Americanization often ran along parallel paths. Both struggled against idealized models of American citizenship that dominated public spaces. Both participated in government-sponsored Americanization efforts and worked to gain agency and sovereignty while negotiating naturalization.
Rethinking popular understandings of Americanization, Stanciu argues that the new immigrants and Native Americans at the heart of this book expanded the narrow definitions of American identity.


About the Speaker

Cristina Stanciu, PhD is an immigrant scholar of Indigenous and Multiethnic Literatures of the United States. Her career so far has been driven by a desire to recover and recirculate Indigenous histories, understand multi-ethnic voices, texts, and archives across time and space, and to think deeply about institutions of knowledge production and dissemination (archives, print culture, spaces of education, and the academy, more broadly).

Her scholarly and teaching expertise is in Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS), Multiethnic Literatures of the U.S., Progressive Era literature and visual culture (especially silent film), and critical theory. Dr. Stanciu brings her areas of expertise together in four books (two monographs, one scholarly edition, and one edited collection), three edited journal special issues, over a dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and other contributions that illuminate the extensive histories of Indigenous and immigrant literatures, and provide new ways to read comparatively across several fields.

Dr. Stanciu also contributes to several fields through her national service—current editorial board member of PMLA and NAIS, and book review editor of MELUS, 2020-2023. Since December 2020, Dr. Stanciu has been the director of the Humanities Research Center which, under her leadership, became a university-wide center in July 2022. Dr. Stanciu serves on many departmental, college, and university committees at VCU, including the Research Strategic Priorities Advisory Council. In April 2023, the College of Humanities and Sciences awarded her the Distinguished Service Award.