This book was written for anyone who wants to be free from the tyranny of stress and burnout. Burnout can affect anyone, especially in today’s world, where “The American Dream” has been replaced by the realities of a faltering economy, breakdown of the family and societal distintegration. Burnout is not a natural state, and no one should have to live with its emotional pain. Dr. Fishkin explains how to readjust couterproductive thought processes and behaviors and learn new, healthy methods for coping. He details both self-help techniques and suggested resources to reach out to the community or the workplace for assistance.
In this celebration of contemporary American fiction, Kathryn Hume explores how estrangement from America has shaped the fiction of a literary generation, which she calls the Generation of the Lost Dream.
In breaking down the divisions among standard categories of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender, Hume identifies shared core concerns, values, and techniques among seemingly disparate and unconnected writers including T. Coraghessan Boyle, Ralph Ellison, Russell Banks, Gloria Naylor, Tim O'Brien, Maxine Hong Kingston, Walker Percy, N. Scott Momaday, John Updike, Toni Morrison, William Kennedy, Julia Alvarez, Thomas Pynchon, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Don DeLillo.
Hume explores fictional treatments of the slippage in the immigrant experience between America's promise and its reality. She exposes the political link between contemporary stories of lost innocence and liberalism's inadequacies. She also invites us to look at the literary challenge to scientific materialism in various searches for a spiritual dimension in life.
The expansive future promised by the American Dream has been replaced, Hume finds, by a sense of tarnished morality and a melancholy loss of faith in America's exceptionalism. American Dream, American Nightmare examines the differing critiques of America embedded in nearly a hundred novels and points to the source for recovery that appeals to many of the authors.
This engaging study examines sports as both a symbol of American culture and a formative force that shapes American values. Leverett T. Smith Jr. uses "high" culture, in the form of literature and criticism, to analyze the popular culture of baseball and professional football. He explores the history of baseball through three important events: the fixing of the 1919 World Series, the appointment of Judge Landis as commissioner of baseball with dictatorial powers, and the emergence of Babe Ruth as the "new" kind of ball player. He also looks at literary works dealing with leisure and sports, including those of Thoreau, Twain, Frost, Lardner, and Hemingway. Finally he documents the emergence of professional football as the national game through the history and writings of former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, who emerges as both a critic of the business-oriented society and a canny businessman and manager of men himself.
The American Dream has long been a dominant theme in U.S. culture, one with enduring significance, but these are difficult times for dreamers. The editors of and contributors to The American Dream in the 21st Century examine the American Dream historically, socially, and economically and consider its intersection with politics, religion, race, gender, and generation.
The conclusions presented in this short, readable volume provide both optimism for the faith that most Americans have in the possibility of achieving the American Dream and a realistic assessment of the cracks in the dream. The last presidential election offered hope, but the experts here warn about the need for better programs and policies that could make the dream a reality for a larger number of Americans.
In her research on popular culture of the Vietnamese diaspora, Nhi T. Lieu explores how people displaced by war reconstruct cultural identity in the aftermath of migration. Embracing American democratic ideals and consumer capitalism prior to arriving in the United States, postwar Vietnamese refugees endeavored to assimilate and live the American Dream. In The American Dream in Vietnamese, she claims that nowhere are these fantasies played out more vividly than in the Vietnamese American entertainment industry.
Lieu examines how live music variety shows and videos, beauty pageants, and Web sites created by and for Vietnamese Americans contributed to the shaping of their cultural identity. She shows how popular culture forms repositories for conflicting expectations of assimilation, cultural preservation, and invention, alongside gendered and classed dimensions of ethnic and diasporic identity.
The American Dream in Vietnamese demonstrates how the circulation of images manufactured by both Americans and Vietnamese immigrants serves to produce these immigrants’ paradoxical desires. Within these desires and their representations, Lieu finds the dramatization of the community’s struggle to define itself against the legacy of the refugee label, a classification that continues to pathologize their experiences in American society.
Populists on both sides of the political aisle routinely announce that the American Dream is dead. According to them, the game has been rigged by elites, workers can’t get ahead, wages have been stagnant for decades, and the middle class is dying.
Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, disputes this rhetoric as both wrong and dangerous. In this succinctly argued volume, he shows that, on measures of economic opportunity and quality of life, there has never been a better time to be alive in America. He backs his argument with overwhelming—and underreported—data to show how the facts favor realistic optimism.
He warns, however, that the false prophets of populism pose a serious danger to our current and future prosperity. Their policies would leave workers worse off. And their erroneous claim that the American Dream is dead could discourage people from taking advantage of real opportunities to better their lives. If enough people start to believe the Dream is dead, they could, in effect, kill it. To prevent this self-fulfilling prophecy, Strain’s book is urgent reading for anyone feeling the pull of the populists.
E. J. Dionne and Henry Olsen provide spirited responses to Strain’s argument.
Throughout his life, Clarence Adams exhibited self-reliance, ambition, ingenuity, courage, and a commitment to learning—character traits often equated with the successful pursuit of the American Dream. Unfortunately, for an African American coming of age in the 1930s and 1940s, such attributes counted for little, especially in the South.
Adams was a seventeen-year-old high school dropout in 1947 when he fled Memphis and the local police to join the U.S. Army. Three years later, after fighting in the Korean War in an all-black artillery unit that he believed to have been sacrificed to save white troops, he was captured by the Chinese. After spending almost three years as a POW, during which he continued to suffer racism at the hands of his fellow Americans, he refused repatriation in 1953, choosing instead the People's Republic of China, where he hoped to find educational and career opportunities not readily available in his own country.
While living in China, Adams earned a university degree, married a Chinese professor of Russian, and worked in Beijing as a translator for the Foreign Languages Press. During the Vietnam War he made a controversial anti-war broadcast over Radio Hanoi, urging black troops not to fight for someone else's political and economic freedoms until they enjoyed these same rights at home.
In 1966, having come under suspicion during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he returned with his wife and two children to the United States, where he was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to face charges of "disrupting the morale of American fighting forces in Vietnam and inciting revolution in the United States." After these charges were dropped, he and his family struggled to survive economically. Eventually, through sheer perseverance, they were able to fulfill at least part of the American Dream. By the time he died, the family owned and operated eight successful Chinese restaurants in his native Memphis.
When Andy Kaufman succumbed suddenly to lung cancer in 1984, some of his fans believed that his death was yet another elaborate prank. Over the previous decade, Kaufman had achieved improbable fame for his bizarre antiperformances—lip-synching the Mighty Mouse theme song, reading The Great Gatsby aloud in its entirety when people expected comedy, asking audience members to touch a boil on his neck—that perplexed, annoyed, or offended his viewers.
In Andy Kaufman, Florian Keller explores Kaufman’s career within a broader discussion of the ideology of the American Dream. Taking as his starting point the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon, Keller brilliantly decodes Kaufman in a way that makes it possible to grasp his radical agenda beyond avant-garde theories of transgression. As an entertainer, Kaufman submerged his identity beneath a multiplicity of personas, enacting the American belief that the self can and should be endlessly remade for the sake of happiness and success. He did this so rigorously and consistently, Keller argues, that he exposed the internal contradictions of America’s ideology of self-invention.
Keller posits that Kaufman offered a radically different—and perhaps more potent—logic of cultural criticism than did more overtly political comedians such as Lenny Bruce. Presenting close readings of Kaufman’s most significant performances, Keller shows how Kaufman mounted—for the benefit of an often uncomprehending public—a sustained and remarkable critique of America’s obsession with celebrity and individualism.
Florian Keller is a fellow at the Institute of Cultural Studies, School of Art and Design, University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Zurich.
This consequential book takes a hard, systematic look at the depiction of blacks, whites, and race relations in Mark Twain's classic novel, raising questions about its canonical status in American literature.
Huckleberry Finn, one of the most widely taught novels in American literature, has long been the subject of ongoing debates over issues ranging from immorality to racism. Here, Elaine Mensh and Harry Mensh enter the debate with a careful and thoughtful examination of racial messages imbedded in the tale of Huck and Jim.
Using as a gauge for analysis the historical record left by both slaves and slaveholders, the Menshes compare Twain's depiction with historical reality, attempting to determine where the book either undermines or upholds traditional racial attitudes. Surveying the opinions of fellow critics, they challenge the current consensus that Huckleberry Finn fosters rapport between blacks and whites, arguing that the book does not subvert ingrained beliefs about race, and demonstrating that the argument over black-white relations in the novel is also an argument over non-fictional racial relations and conflicting perceptions of racial harmony.
Reading the novel in its historical context, the Menshes conclude that Twain, in the character of Huck, never questions the institution of slavery, and even supports it in both thought and action. In response to student and parent challenges to the inclusion of the book in literature classes, they suggest that it should remain in school libraries but not be required reading.
Of importance to scholars of Mark Twain and American literature, African American cultural studies, or anyone interested in issues of literature and race, this book adds a strong voice to the long-ranging debate over Huckleberry Finn.
Few studies have highlighted the stories of middle-class children of immigrants who move to their ancestral homelands—countries with which they share cultural ties but haven’t necessarily had direct contact. Chasing the American Dream in China addresses this gap by examining the lives of highly educated American-born Chinese (ABC) professionals who “return” to the People’s Republic of China to build their careers. Analyzing the motivations and experiences of these individuals deepens our knowledge about transnationalism among the second-generation as they grapple with complex issues of identity and societal belonging in the ethnic homeland. This book demonstrates how these professional migrants maneuver between countries and cultures to further their careers and maximize opportunities in the rapidly changing global economy. When used strategically, the versatile nature of their ethnic identities positions them as indispensable bridges between the global superpowers of China and the United States in their competition for global dominance.
From Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben to the Jolly Green Giant and Ronald McDonald, corporate icons sell billions of dollars’ worth of products. But only one of them was ever a real person—Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC. From a 1930s roadside café in Corbin, Kentucky, Harland Sanders launched a fried chicken business that now circles the globe, serving “finger lickin’ good” chicken to more than twelve million people every day. But to get there, he had to give up control of his company and even his own image, becoming a mere symbol to people today who don’t know that Colonel Sanders was a very real human being. This book tells his story—the story of a dirt-poor striver with unlimited ambition who personified the American Dream.
Acclaimed cultural historian Josh Ozersky defines the American Dream as being able to transcend your roots and create yourself as you see fit. Harland Sanders did exactly that. Forced at age ten to go to work to help support his widowed mother and sisters, he failed at job after job until he went into business for himself as a gas station/café/motel owner and finally achieved a comfortable, middle-class life. But then the interstate bypassed his business and, at sixty-five, Sanders went broke again. Packing his car with a pressure cooker and his secret blend of eleven herbs and spices, he began peddling the recipe for “Colonel Sanders’ Kentucky Fried Chicken” to small-town diners in exchange for a nickel for each chicken they sold. Ozersky traces the rise of Kentucky Fried Chicken from this unlikely beginning, telling the dramatic story of Sanders’ self-transformation into “The Colonel,” his truculent relationship with KFC management as their often-disregarded goodwill ambassador, and his equally turbulent afterlife as the world’s most recognizable commercial icon.
Michel Gobat deftly interweaves political, economic, cultural, and diplomatic history to analyze the reactions of Nicaraguans to U.S. intervention in their country from the heyday of Manifest Destiny in the mid–nineteenth century through the U.S. occupation of 1912–33. Drawing on extensive research in Nicaraguan and U.S. archives, Gobat accounts for two seeming paradoxes that have long eluded historians of Latin America: that Nicaraguans so strongly embraced U.S. political, economic, and cultural forms to defend their own nationality against U.S. imposition and that the country’s wealthiest and most Americanized elites were transformed from leading supporters of U.S. imperial rule into some of its greatest opponents.
Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.
Winner of the Elizabeth Agee Prize in American Literature
Since his death in Alabama in 1992, the work of American writer Richard Yates has enjoyed a renaissance, culminating in director Sam Mendes’s adaption of the novel Revolutionary Road (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet). Dismembering the American Dream is the first book-length critical study of Yates’s fiction.
Kate Charlton-Jones argues that to read Yates’s tales of disordered lives is to uncover not misery, though the lives he describes are sad ones, but a profound, enriching, and humorous understanding of human weakness and vulnerability. Yates’s narratives absorb his readers so entirely, mirroring their own emotional highs and lows with such skill, that reading becomes recognition. Yates demonstrates his ability to tease powerful human drama out of the most ordinary, quotidian moments. At the same time, Yates’s fiction displays an object lesson in the art of fine prose writing, so it is no surprise that many early fans of Yates were also established writers.
Charlton-Jones explores how Yates extends the realist form and investigates three main recurring themes of his fiction: observations about performative behavior, which are at the heart of all his fictions; his conception of the writer’s role in society; and how he envisages the development of social and sexual relationships. Furthermore, Charlton-Jones illustrates how Yates incorporates some of the concerns and methods of postmodernist writers but how, nevertheless, he resists their ontological challenges.
Drawing on the author’s personal papers and with a foreword by DeWitt Henry and an afterword by Richard Yates’s daughter Monica, Dismembering the American Dream provides an extended critical examination of the often neglected but important work of this gifted and accomplished author.
In Domestic Economies, Susanna Rosenbaum examines how two groups of women—Mexican and Central American domestic workers and the predominantly white, middle-class women who employ them—seek to achieve the "American Dream." By juxtaposing their understandings and experiences, she illustrates how immigrant and native-born women strive to reach that ideal, how each group is indispensable to the other's quest, and what a vital role reproductive labor plays in this pursuit. Through in-depth ethnographic research with these women at work, at home, and in the urban spaces of Los Angeles, Rosenbaum positions domestic service as an intimate relationship that reveals two versions of female personhood. Throughout, Rosenbaum underscores the extent to which the ideology of the American Dream is racialized and gendered, exposing how the struggle for personal worth and social recognition is shaped at the intersection of motherhood and paid employment.
In this book, first published in 1985, Ernest G. Bormann explores mass persuasion in America from 1620 to 1860, examining closely four rhetorical communities: the revivals of 1739–1740, the hot gospel of the postrevolutionary period, the evangelical revival and reform of the 1830s, and the Free Soil and Republican parties. Each community varies greatly, but Bormann asserts that each succeeding community shares a rhetorical vision of restoring the “American Dream” that is essentially a modification of the previous visions. Thus, they form a family of rhetorical visions that constitutes a rhetorical tradition of importance in nineteenth-century American popular culture.
Thirty-second Street in Chicago. A Chicano community, peaceful on a warm summer night, residents socializing, children playing--and gang warfare ready to explode at any time. Ruth Horowitz takes us to the heart of this world, one characterized by opposing sets of values. On the one hand, residents believe in hard work, education, family ties, and the American dream of success. On the other hand, gang members are preoccupied with fighting to maintain their personal and family honor. Horowitz gives us an inside look at this world, showing us how the juxtaposition of two worlds--the streets and the social ladder--and two cultures, Mexican and American, constantly challenges the residents of the community.
In 1915, Jukichi and Ken Harada purchased a house on Lemon Street in Riverside, California. Close to their restaurant, church, and children's school, the house should have been a safe and healthy family home. Before the purchase, white neighbors objected because of the Haradas' Japanese ancestry, and the California Alien Land Law denied them real-estate ownership because they were not citizens. To bypass the law Mr. Harada bought the house in the names of his three youngest children, who were American-born citizens. Neighbors protested again, and the first Japanese American court test of the California Alien Land Law of 1913-The People of California v. Jukichi Harada-was the result.
Bringing this little-known story to light, The House on Lemon Street details the Haradas' decision to fight for the American dream. Chronicling their experiences from their immigration to the United States through their legal battle over their home, their incarceration during World War II, and their lives after the war, this book tells the story of the family's participation in the struggle for human and civil rights, social justice, property and legal rights, and fair treatment of immigrants in the United States.
The Harada family's quest for acceptance illuminates the deep underpinnings of anti-Asian animus, which set the stage for Executive Order 9066, and recognizes fundamental elements of our nation's anti-immigrant history that continue to shape the American story. It will be worthwhile for anyone interested in the Japanese American experience in the twentieth century, immigration history, public history, and law.
This publication was made possible with the support of Naomi, Kathleen, Ken, and Paul Harada, who donated funds in memory of their father, Harold Shigetaka Harada, honoring his quest for justice and civil rights. Additional support for this publication was also provided, in part, by UCLA's Aratani Endowed Chair as well as Wallace T. Kido, Joel B. Klein, Elizabeth A. Uno, and Rosalind K. Uno.
Great Neck, New York, is one of America’s most fascinating suburbs. Since the mid-nineteenth century, generations have been attracted to this once quiet enclave for its easy access to New York City and its tranquil setting by the Long Island Sound. It became an illustrious suburb, home to numerous film and theatrical luminaries, among them Groucho Marx, Eddie Cantor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Alan King. Famous writers who lived there include Ring Lardner and, of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who used Great Neck as the inspiration for his classic novel The Great Gatsby.
Although frequently recognized as home to well-known personalities, Great Neck is also notable for the conspicuous way it transformed itself from a Gentile community, to a mixed one, and, finally, in the 1960s, to one in which Jews were the majority. In Inventing Great Neck, Judith Goldstein recounts these histories in which Great Neck emerges as a leader in the reconfiguration of the American suburb.The book spans four decades of rapid change, beginning with the 1920s. First, the community served as a playground for New York’s socialites and celebrities. In the forties, it developed one of the country’s most outstanding school systems and served as the temporary home to the United Nations. In the sixties it provided strong support to the civil rights movement.
Inventing Great Neck is about the allure of suburbia, including the institutions that bind it together, and the social, economic, cultural, and religious tensions that may threaten its vibrancy. Anyone who has lived in a suburban town, particularly one in the greater metropolitan area, will be intrigued by this rich narrative, which illustrates not only Jewish identity in America but the struggle of the American dream itself through the heart of the twentieth century.
Most nineteenth and early-twentieth-century European immigrants arrived in the United States with barely more than the clothes on their backs. They performed menial jobs, spoke little English, and often faced a hostile reception. But two or more generations later, the overwhelming majority of their descendants had successfully integrated into American society. Today's immigrants face many of the same challenges, but some experts worry that their integration, especially among Latinos, will not be as successful as their European counterparts. Keeping the Immigrant Bargain examines the journey of Dominican and Colombian newcomers whose children have achieved academic success one generation after the arrival of their parents. Sociologist Vivian Louie provides a much-needed comparison of how both parents and children understand the immigrant journey toward education, mobility, and assimilation. Based on Louie's own survey and interview study, Keeping the Immigrant Bargain examines the lives of thirty-seven foreign-born Dominican and Colombian parents and their seventy-six young adult offspring—the majority of whom were enrolled in or had graduated from college. The book shows how they are adapting to American schools, jobs, neighborhoods, and culture. Louie discovers that before coming to the United States, some of these parents had already achieved higher levels of education than the average foreign-born Dominican or Colombian, and after arrival many owned their own homes. Significantly, most parents in each group expressed optimism about their potential to succeed in the United States, while also expressing pessimism about whether they would ever be accepted as Americans. In contrast to the social exclusion experienced by their parents, most of the young adults had assimilated linguistically and believed themselves to be full participants in American society. Keeping the Immigrant Bargain shows that the offspring of these largely working-class immigrants had several factors in common that aided their mobility. Their parents were highly engaged in their lives and educational progress, although not always in ways expected by schools or their children, and the children possessed a strong degree of self-motivation. Equally important was the availability of key institutional networks of support, including teachers, peers, afterschool and other enrichment programs, and informal mentors outside of the classroom. These institutional networks gave the children the guidance they needed to succeed in school, offering information the parents often did not know themselves. While not all immigrants achieve such rapid success, this engrossing study shows how powerful the combination of self-motivation, engaged families, and strong institutional support can be. Keeping the Immigrant Bargain makes the case that institutional relationships—such as teachers and principals who are trained to accommodate cultural difference and community organizations that help parents and children learn how to navigate the system—can bear significantly on immigrant educational success.
Part true crime, part work of urban sociology, Land of Opportunity is a meticulously researched account of the rise and fall of the Chambers brothers, who ran a multi-million-dollar crack cocaine operation in Detroit in the 1980s. Descended from Arkansas sharecroppers, BJ, Larry, and Willie Chambers moved to Detroit seeking economic opportunity, and built a successful drug empire by applying strict business principles to their trade; their business grossed an estimated $55 million annually until the brothers were sent to prison in 1989. Reading the Chambers brothers in the context of the fall of the Detroit auto-industry and its impact on the city’s economy and residents, Land of Opportunity demonstrates how for the Chambers brothers, crack dealing was a rational career choice; and through the Chambers brothers’ story, Adler provides bottom-up history of late Second Great Migration, deindustrialization, the War on Drugs, and crack era in both Detroit and the United States.
In the 1950s, 99 percent of adult Americans said they believed in God. How, James Hudnut-Beumler asks, did this consensus about religion turn into the confrontational debates over religion in the 1960s? He argues that post-World War II suburban conformity made church-going so much a part of middle-class values and life that religion and culture became virtually synonymous. Secular critics like David Riesman, William Whyte, C. Wright Mills, and Dwight Macdonald, who blamed American culture for its conformism and lack of class consciousness, and religious critics like Will Herberg, Gibson Winter, and Peter Berger, who argued that religion had lost its true roots by incorporating only the middle class, converged in their attacks on popular religion.
Although most Americans continued to live and worship as before, a significant number of young people followed the critics' call for a faith that led to social action, but they turned away from organized religion and toward the counterculture of the sixties. The critics of the 1950s deserve credit for asking questions about the value of religion as it was being practiced and the responsibilities of the affluent to the poor—and for putting these issues on the social and cultural agenda of the next generation.
Starting in 1952, the United States Navy and Coast Guard actively recruited Filipino men to serve as stewards--domestic servants for officers. Oral histories and detailed archival research inform P. James Paligutan's story of the critical role played by Filipino sailors in putting an end to race-based military policies. Constrained by systemic exploitation, Filipino stewards responded with direct complaints to flag officers and chaplains, rating transfer requests that flooded the bureaucracy, and refusals to work. Their actions had a decisive impact on seagoing military’s elimination of the antiquated steward position. Paligutan looks at these Filipino sailors as agents of change while examining the military system through the lens of white supremacy, racist perceptions of Asian males, and the motives of Filipinos who joined the armed forces of the power that had colonized their nation.
Insightful and dramatic, Lured by the American Dream is the untold story of how Filipino servicepersons overcame tradition and hierarchy in their quest for dignity.
Matthew Weiner’s Emmy-winning series Mad Men has earned wide critical acclaim in its seven seasons. What is it about these impeccably dressed men and women of midcentury Madison Avenue that fascinates us? Decades later, when Weiner’s iconic characters seem as much a thing of the past as the workday martini, why is it so easy for modern viewers to commiserate with the reserved but ambitious Peggy Olson, to jeer at Pete Campbell, and to cheer on Don Draper in his often indecorous struggles?
We are drawn to Mad Men’s dapper cast of characters, argues Elisabeth Bronfen, because, although the series has drawn praise for its depiction of the 1960s and ’70s, it speaks equally well to cultural concerns of the present. The prototypical con man, Don makes a precarious journey from poverty to fame and prosperity that maps the pursuit of moral perfectionism that features prominently throughout American cultural history. Yet a lingering sense of dissatisfaction hints that the lifestyle Don strives for may be a mere manifestation of the illusory American dream—cemented in the same collective desires Don draws on to advertise cigarettes and luxury cars by day.
"Mad Men," Death and the American Dream takes readers through the cultural fantasies that underlie characters’ motivations in this sophisticated and immensely popular television series, showing how—then as now—we turn to fantasy in the face of conflicts that cannot be resolved in political reality. Fascinating and full of accessible insights, the book will appeal to the show’s many fans, as well as anyone interested in American studies, media studies, or cultural history.
More than perhaps any other major filmmaker, Martin Scorsese has grappled with the idea of the American Dream. His movies are full of working-class strivers hoping for a better life, from the titular waitress and aspiring singer of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore to the scrappy Irish immigrants of Gangs of New York. And in films as varied as Casino, The Aviator, and The Wolf of Wall Street, he vividly displays the glamour and power that can come with the fulfillment of that dream, but he also shows how it can turn into a nightmare of violence, corruption, and greed.
This book is the first study of Scorsese’s profound ambivalence toward the American Dream, the ways it drives some men and women to aspire to greatness, but leaves others seduced and abandoned. Showing that Scorsese understands the American dream in terms of a tension between provincialism and cosmopolitanism, Jim Cullen offers a new lens through which to view such seemingly atypical Scorsese films as The Age of Innocence, Hugo, and Kundun. Fast-paced, instructive, and resonant, Martin Scorsese and the American Dream illuminates an important dimension of our national life and how a great artist has brought it into focus.
"Guerin-Gonzales's special contribution is the link she explores between immigrant experience and the American dream. The towering irony her fine book reveals is how an ideology of promise for others was for the Mexican migrants the justification for their exploitation and, when the Great Drepression struck, for expelling many of them from the country."--David Brody, University of California, Davis
"Based on exhaustive research in U.S. and Mexican archives, this study offers a richly-textured history of Mexican immigrants in rural California. A work of exceptional breadth, especially with regard to repatriation, [it] is a pivotal contribution to Chicano historiography and immigration studies."--Vicki L. Ruiz, Andrew W. Mellon All-Claremont Professor in the Humanities, The Claremont Graduate School
In the first forty years of this century, over one million Mexican immigrants moved to the United States, attracted by the prospect of farm work in California. They became workers in industrial agriculture --barely recognized, never respected, and poorly paid. Native white American workers did not resent the Mexicans during prosperous times, when everyone who wanted to work could do so. But during the Great Depression, native workers began to realize that many of the Mexican workers were here to stay. Native workers, blaming their unemployment on the immigrants, joined with government officials to demand that Mexican workers and their families return to Mexico. During the 1930s, the federal government and county relief agencies cooperated in a nasty repatriation program, forcing half a million Mexicans living in the U.S. to return to Mexico.
Camille Guerin-Gonzales tells the story of their migration, their years here, and of the repatriation program--one of the largest mass removal operations ever sanctioned by the U.S. government.She documents both their efforts to resist and the overpowering forces that worked against them.
News on the American Dream traces the development of the Portuguese-American press from its beginnings in the late nineteenth century to the present, taking readers from the East Coast to Hawaii, with strategic stops in places with large Portuguese communities, including New Bedford, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; and Newark, New Jersey. Alberto Pena Rodríguez's nuanced analysis of the political, economic, social, and cultural roles played by these publications proves how important they were for the PortugueseAmerican community and the history of the ethnic press in the United States. Fascinating narratives about the founders, editors, and owners of these publications—and their challenges, squabbles, and successes—round out this engaging study.
The pioneering anthropologist Sherry B. Ortner combines her trademark ethnographic expertise with critical film interpretation to explore the independent film scene in New York and Los Angeles since the late 1980s. Not Hollywood is both a study of the lived experience of that scene and a critical examination of America as seen through the lenses of independent filmmakers. Based on interviews with scores of directors and producers, Ortner reveals the culture and practices of indie filmmaking, including the conviction of those involved that their films, unlike Hollywood movies, are "telling the truth" about American life. These films often illuminate the dark side of American society through narratives about the family, the economy, and politics in today's neoliberal era. Offering insightful interpretations of many of these films, Ortner argues that during the past three decades independent American cinema has functioned as a vital form of cultural critique.
At one time, a move to the suburbs was the American Dream for many families. However, despite the success of Levittown, NY,impoverished “inner-ring” suburbs—those closest to the urban core of metropolitan cities—like Lansdowne, MD, are in decline. As aging housing stock, foreclosures, severe fiscal problems, slow population growth, increasing poverty, and struggling local economies affect inner-ring suburbs, what can be done to save them?
Once the American Dream analyzes this downward trend, examining 5,000 suburbs across 100 different metropolitan areas and census regions in 1980 and 2000. Hanlon defines the suburbs’ geographic boundaries and provides a ranking system for assessing and acting upon inner-ring suburban decline. She also illuminates her detailed statistical analysis with vivid case studies. She demonstrates how other suburbs, particularly those in the outer reaches of cities, flourished during the 1980s and 1990s. Once the American Dream closes with a discussion of policy implications and recommendations for policymakers and planners who deal with suburbs of various stripes.
Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was perhaps the most prolific black female writer of her time. Between 1900 and 1904, writing mainly for Colored American Magazine, she published four novels, at least seven short stories, and numerous articles that often addressed the injustices and challenges facing African Americans in post–Civil War America. In Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream, Alisha Knight provides the first full-length critical analysis of Hopkins’s work.
Scholars have frequently situated Hopkins within the domestic, sentimental tradition of nineteenth-century women's writing, with some critics observing that aspects of her writing, particularly its emphasis on the self-made man, seem out of place within the domestic tradition. Knight argues that Hopkins used this often-dismissed theme to critique American society's ingrained racism and sexism. In her “Famous Men” and “Famous Women” series for Colored American Magazine, she constructed her own version of the success narrative by offering models of African American self-made men and women. Meanwhile, in her fiction, she depicted heroes who fail to achieve success or must leave the United States to do so.
Hopkins risked and eventually lost her position at Colored American Magazine by challenging black male leaders, liberal white philanthropists, and white racists—and by conceiving a revolutionary treatment of the American Dream that placed her far ahead of her time. Hopkins is finally getting her due, and this clear-eyed analysis of her work will be a revelation to literary scholars, historians of African American history, and students of women’s studies.
Alisha Knight is an associate professor of English and American Studies at Washington College. Her published articles include “Furnace Blasts for the Tuskegee Wizard: Revisiting Pauline E. Hopkins, Booker T. Washington, and the Colored American Magazine,” which appeared in American Periodicals.
If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?
Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.
Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, and even went without adequate food or housing. In many heartbreaking cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt. Goldrick-Rab combines that shocking data with devastating stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the horrifying human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies.
America can fix this problem. In the final section of the book, Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program. What’s not an option, this powerful book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people.
From 1840 to 1900, midwestern Americans experienced firsthand the profound economic, cultural, and structural changes that transformed the nation from a premodern, agrarian state to one that was urban, industrial, and economically interdependent. Midwestern commercial farmers found themselves at the heart of these changes. Their actions and reactions led to the formation of a distinctive and particularly democratic consumer ethos, which is still being played out today.
By focusing on the consumer behavior of midwestern farmers, Sowing the American Dream provides illustrative examples of how Americans came to terms with the economic and ideological changes that swirled around them. From the formation of the Grange to the advent of mail-order catalogs, the buying patterns of rural midwesterners set the stage for the coming century.
Carefully documenting the rise and fall of the powerful purchasing cooperatives, David Blanke explains the shifting trends in collective consumerism, which ultimately resulted in a significant change in the way that midwestern consumers pursued their own regional identity, community, and independence.
Could the promise of upward mobility have a dark side? In Tensions in the American Dream, Melanie and Roderick Bush ask, how does a "nation of immigrants" pledge inclusion, yet marginalize so many citizens based on race, class, and gender? The authors consider the origins and development of the U.S. nation and empire; the founding principles of belonging, nationalism, and exceptionalism; and their lived reality.
Tensions in the American Dream also addresses the relevancy of nation to empire in the context of the historical world capitalist system. The authors ask, is the American Dream a reality only questioned by those unwilling or unable to achieve it? What is the "good life" and how is it particularly "American"?
The ability to achieve economic security through hard work is a central tenet of the American Dream, but significant shifts in today’s economy have fractured this connection. While economic insecurity has always been a reality for some Americans, Black Americans have historically long experienced worse economic outcomes than Whites. In Work in Black and White, sociologists Enobong Hannah Branch and Caroline Hanley draw on interviews with 80 middle-aged Black and White Americans to explore how their attitudes and perceptions of success are influenced by the stories American culture has told about the American Dream – and about who should have access to it and who should not.
Branch and Hanley find that Black and White workers draw on racially distinct histories to make sense of today’s rising economic insecurity. White Americans have grown increasingly pessimistic and feel that the American Dream is now out of reach, mourning the loss of a sense of economic security which they took for granted. But Black Americans tend to negotiate their present insecurity with more optimism, since they cannot mourn something they never had. All educated workers bemoaned the fact that their credentials no longer guarantee job security, but Black workers lamented the reality that even with an education, racial inequality continues to block access to good jobs for many.
The authors interject a provocative observation into the ongoing debate over opportunity, security, and the American Dream: Among policymakers and the public alike, Americans talk too much about education. The ways people navigate insecurity, inequality, and uncertainty rests on more than educational attainment. The authors call for a public policy that ensures dignity in working conditions and pay while accounting for the legacies of historical inequality.
Americans want the game of life to be fair. While the survey respondents expressed common ground on the ideal of meritocracy, opinions about to achieve economic security for all diverge along racial lines, with the recognition – or not – of differences in current and past access to opportunity in America.
Work in Black and White is a call to action for meaningful policies to make the premise of the American Dream a reality.