American Cultural Studies: An Introduction to American by Neil Campbell, Alasdair Kean

By Neil Campbell, Alasdair Kean

Drawing on literature, artwork, movie theatre, song and masses extra, American Cultural stories is an interdisciplinary advent to American tradition for these taking American stories. This textbook: * introduces the total diversity and diversity of yank tradition together with problems with race, gender and formative years* presents a really interdisciplinary method* indicates and discusses a number of techniques to check* highlights American forte* attracts on literature, paintings, movie, theatre, structure, tune and extra* demanding situations orthodox paradigms of yankee reports. This is a fast-expanding topic region, and Campbell and Kean's booklet will surely be a staple a part of any cultural reviews student's analyzing vitamin.

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22 NEW BEGINNINGS READING COLUMBUS One means by which America has unified itself is through an imagined communal mythology that all could share and that provided a cluster of beliefs through which the nation could be articulated, both to itself and to the world. The issue of how the five hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage of 1492 has been commemorated is revealing here. Traditional mythology about Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of the New World and the way in which it led to the republican and democratic values embedded in the history of the United States may be traced back to Joel Barlow’s epic Columbiad (1807) and Washington Irving’s A History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828).

Here is the contradiction of myth/ideology, for it glosses over or elides difference, contingency and diversity in f favour of clarity which ‘goes-without-saying’; it functions to reassure (as Inaugural Addresses must) and ‘organizes a world without contradictions’ (Barthes 1976:143). The language is ‘full of rites and power, which none the less desires to pass itself off as innocently natural’ (Rylance 1994:50). The Inaugural Address speaks to the American people, seeking to reassure them of the new beginnings of the new presidency, of its commitment to great visions and old traditions, and as such functions less at a level of policy-making than as a rallying cry for the continuity of the new presidential term of office.

As part of this process the Columbian myth became anglicised, but it could also act as a symbol for immigrant groups like Italians as to the role they could play in contributing to America’s historic mission. What became clear by the 1980s, however, as preparations were made for the ‘Quincentenary Jubilee’, was that many Americans found it hard, if not impossible, to see the anniversary as a ‘jubilee’. There was nothing to celebrate in the legacy of Columbus. According to many of his critics, he had been the harbinger not of progress and civilisation, but genocide, slavery and the reckless exploitation of the environment.

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