RE: Updated Powerpoint/Prezi Assignment

Broad Overview:

This project centers on using research as an essential part of the assignment. You will  create a powerpoint or prezi presentation accompanied by an oral talk which should not be longer than 5 – 6 minutes, which focuses on either of the following:

1) the Five Points area in mid 1800s and Irish Immigrants
2) the Lower Eastside and the Jewish Immigrants in the late 1880s.

I would like you to focus on a particular aspect of the immigrant life and the challenges in that particular time period. What social, historical or cultural practices shaped their experience of emigrating to the United States? You could focus on social economic realities including: tenement life, slum conditions, assimilation, religion, crime, disease, the draft riots, social reform, entertainment, etc.

“Gangs of New York” deals with the issue of political corruption, rigged voting, police graft, despicable living conditions and mob violence against freed slaves. Hester Street deals with gender inequality, Jewish religious customs. Both films deal with immigrant aspirations for achieving a better life.

Using maps, photographs and historical research please put together a 10 -15  slide powerpoint presentation. Not only will this assignment require you to do research, but I in your oral presentation you might also incorporate some aspect of your own perspective on immigrants in New York city that connects to your own experience or background. Part of the goal of this project is to explore how immigration is a “global system” which touches on many issues such as poverty, assimilation, social bias, and ethical principles and for you to use critical thinking to explore some aspect of this in your presentation.

For example, “In Gangs of New York The Irish arrived en-masse after the potato famine. They came because of religious persecution and for economic opportunity. The Nativists” were biased against the Irish, who they considered competition and second class. This led to violent conflict and the subjugation of the newly arrived Irish immigrants who were living at the bottom of the socio-economic strata. They had to make tough ethical choices in order to survive: often committing criminal acts which pitted them ultimately against the establishment and the Nativists who had economic control of Five Points.

Another example is in Hester Street, Gitl had to adjust in numerous ways to assimilate in order to try to save her marriage and survive in her new homeland in the ghetto of the Lower Eastside. As a Jewish Orthodox woman with limited rights, she dealt with bias within her own ethnic/religious group as opposed to another immigrant group. She had to make very crucial ethical decisions, which required her to radically transform her identity.

So when you begin to think about your critical perspective for this assignment you could explore what biases preconditioned the perception of the group you are exploring. How did this bias affect the process of assimilation for the immigrant and what ethical issues did the immigrant group or individual experience? In other words, you are exploring the links in the “global system” of immigration though examine the factors that influence and contribute to this system.

Project deadline: April 15th.

Your powerpoint/prezi presentation/talk should cover some aspect of the following topics:


How did the immigrant group portrayed in the film you chose deal with the subject of assimilation? Address some of the forces that shaped the immigrant experience within the film. This might include social, political and economic forces.  You could explore this through a variety of issues including: language, religious views, marriage rituals, dress codes, cuisine, family heritage, economic class, work opportunities, living conditions, education, etc.

2) BIAS: 

What biases, such as racial, ethnic and religious were the immigrants faced with when they arrived in New York City? How might your own background, either as an immigrant or descendent of an immigrant family compare to their experiences? How did the experience of the immigrant characters in the film you choose and your own experience of immigrants in New York City compare? If they struggled with issues of bias. Can you see similarities in your own experience?


Pick an ethical issue that was addressed in the film you chose. Explain the particular historical context and offer an ethical perspective. For instance if you choose “slum conditions” as evidenced by the despicable tenement conditions in Five Points and in the Lower Eastside? What ethical questions did it raise for the immigrant groups? You could also explore this topic from the perspective of a social reformer, Jacob Riis, and how he challenged the status quo by addressing the ethical issue of poverty and it’s effect on immigrants.

Here is a definition of ethics.


  1. 1. moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior. “Judeo-Christian ethics”
    Synonyms: moral code, morals, morality, values, rights and wrongs, principles, ideals, standards (of behavior), value system, virtues, dictates of conscience
    “your so-called newspaper is clearly not burdened by a sense of ethics”.
  2. 2. the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.

You may use images and video clips from Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” or Joan Micklen Silver’s “Hester Street” to illustrate your main topic, but they should NOT be the only research materials you use as they are primary sources. You must have at least TWO to THREE other secondary sources for your research in this presentation.

Last Note: Use your imagination and visual skills when putting this presentation together. Your presentation will be graded on the followiong:

Visual presentation: 1) Clear graphic and visual content of 2) Organization and logical progression 3)  Accuracy of content 4) Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling
Oral Presentation: Address the topic question with research and present an engaging organized talk, backed up by written notes. Please upload you oral presentation notes to blackboard in the appropriate assignment. (Note: If English is not your native language do not worry, do your best. You are not being graded on your English.)

Have fun with this! This is an opportunity to be visual and imaginative so give this assignment your personal style and viewpoint. We will spread out the presentations over several classes.

The link below has a list of excellent references you could look at. You can use Jacob Riis “How The Other Half Lives”, or Herbert Ashbury’s “Gangs of New York” (which inspired the film), “The Lower Eastside Jews: An Immigrant Generation” amongst other books.     You might also check out the online websites of The Museum of New York City, The Historical Society of New York and The New York Public Library in addition to La Guardia’s Library.

Here is the link to several past student prezis.

Here is a link to the image collection at The Museum of New York City. 

The Jewish Americans (PBS Series by David Grubin)

Here is an example of a powerpoint that I think is effective:

If you need help with creating a powerpoint, these are some links:
Using PowerPoint 2010 – A Complete Tutorial of Most Features

A seminar on How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint, full with practical usable tips

and this last one is for inspiration!

TEDxEast – Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest communicators 11/11/2010

RE: Examples of past powerpoint & prezi presentations

Hi Class, Please read the revised powerpoint assignment which is under the menu item “Powerpoint Assignment” on the home page. I have posted the links below to give you an idea of past projects, but please be aware that previously the assignment was strictly research based. There was no requirement in the past to address issue of assimilation, bias and ethical issues, which are now part of the current project. However these should give you an idea of the graphical presentation.

Example of past powerpoints

1_Tiffany Aucancela PP

2_Lissette Perez_Film and NY Jewish Immigrants Powerpoint


Links to prezis