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Courses / Modules / ENGL3091 American Dreams? Monetized Bodies, Terror, and Trauma in American Drama

American Dreams? Monetized Bodies, Terror, and Trauma in American Drama

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 6
Module lead
Alireza Fakhrkonandeh
Academic year

Module overview

What constitutes the experience of being American, or of America itself? America has been referred to as simultaneously a colony and a colonizer; the first democracy thus representing one of the first populist and anti-colonialist revolutions (1776), but also the most destructive Empire in modern history (Spanos); not only a utopia envisaged as ‘a city upon a hill’ (John Winthrop) arising from the Puritan’s ‘errand in wilderness’ of the Americas, but also a ‘utopia achieved’ ambivalently designated thus by Baudrillard (1988) to emphasize the paradoxes embodied by America as a new world order. Henry Luce, in 1941, called the 20th century the “American Century,” urging the United States to relinquish her isolationism for a missionary's role, acting as the world's Good Samaritan. Countering Luce’s imperialist idea, Henry Wallace called the American 20th century “the century of common man”. Such conflictual moves, however, paved the way for the emergence of such problematic ideas as “American Imperialism” and “American Exceptionalism”. However, the pivotal idea mobilizing all these diverse policies and narratives about what America essentially is or should be is the “American Dream”. This module takes the idea of "American Dream" as its focal point by exploring its social, cultural, psychological and existential manifestations and interpretations in dramatic-theatrical works written from 1950 to present.

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