Matt Lavallee is a student from Lowell, Massachusetts who participated in my WR 150 equivalent course “Anti-Immigration Sentiment in the United States” that also functioned as an American Studies 200-level course. Due to the shared listing, the course carried a heavier reading load. Matt demonstrated a thorough, thoughtful engagement with each reading. He seemed to particularly connect with the way nativist sentiments manifested in different ways depending upon a particular region or historical moment. Unsurprisingly, he chose to trace this theme in his third paper for the course.

The assignment asked the class to take up an interpretation of American identity and argue whether nativists portrayed the United States as inherently fragile or strong. Matt chose to delve into the history of his hometown to examine how the cry of nativists connected to various labor movements, defining American identity primarily through an economic lens. In earlier drafts, his authorial voice became lost between his sources and he struggle with an effective conclusion. In this published final draft, Matt made his own arguments with greater clarity of purpose. The conclusion also brings the movements of the past to the present day interactions between longtime residents and newer immigrants in this traditionally industrial city.