The search for and debate surrounding a national and cultural identity has been a pivotal issue and central theme in the two-hundred-year-old history of the American culture and democracy. An illustrative reflection of these processes is given by outstanding American authors of the 19th century.
However, this presentation has been canonized as predominantly White and Anglo-Saxon and Male and Protestant (WASP) with only relatively recent debates recognizing the different cultural voicings that shaped and increasingly shape American life and culture.
This course will combine the general presentation of the American Studies topics "immigration" and "ethnicity" with a close analysis of the issue of national/cultural identity and multiculturalism in literature. "cultural icons" such as liberty, individualism, immigration, mobility, the promised land as well as ethnicity and the melting pot will be discussed on critical and literary texts of 20th century ethnic writers.
Though classes will be accompanied by handouts, participants are asked to purchase Wesley Brown's and Any Ling's anthology Imagining America, New York: Persea Books, 1990. (ISBN: 0-89225-167-4 pbk.)