BLS 361: American Dreams
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired many Americans with his “I have a dream” vision of American identity. The question confronting this seminar is: Today, do we have an American Dream? During the past few decades, this question of American identity has emerged all around us in the series of debates about immigration, racial preference, education, family values, and the writing of American history. Are we citizens of the United States now, or have we ever been a nation? Multiculturalists have argued that American identity or nationhood is a repressive political myth. Opponents of multiculturalism have responded that Americanism is a timely or timeless set of ideals embodied in the principles at work in our federal republican democracy. Though they differ in their characterization of this issue, parties to it agree that both American cultural unity and diversity present us with both promises and problems. Readings will include historical, novelistic, and dramatic explorations of American identity.