01:30 PM to 04:10 PM W
Innovation Hall 316
Section Information for Spring 2014More than any other nation, the United States has envisioned itself as a land of pure possibility - from political freedom to home ownership. The American Dream is often viewed in two, often-contradictory ways. On the one hand it has been said to stand for that hard to define stuff that encompasses everything from American economic success, religious freedom, middle-class lifestyle and an unmatched educational system that leads individuals and families to upward mobility. On the other, it has become common to discuss The American Dream as a destructive mythology, an American notion of itself as calm, peaceful, hardworking and self-sufficient, which hides its unbridled racism, exploitation of the working class, gender inequalities, environmental destruction, etc. To sort through these contradictions this course starts with a reading and study of four of the great documents that shape the United States as a democracy: The Emancipation Proclamation; Declaration of Independence; Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. All of the documents give the course a platform to ask across the semester three critical questions: (1) What is the American Dream? (2) Has its meaning changed over time? and (3) Who can access the American Dream that is, is it accessible to all Americans? The course is thus centered on a few particular ideas addressing issues of upward mobility and success.
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