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The American Dream

3. A Richer Life

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we think about the connection of generational wealth to the American dream in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), focusing on: (i) the conflict between old and new money in The Great Gatsby; (ii) the 1924 Immigration Act and racist anti-immigrant sentiment throughout the US during this period; (iii) the unfulfilled promise of a new start in America; (iv) the struggle between the Old and New South in A Streetcar Named Desire; (v) Stanley’s entitlement as an American citizen; and (vi) the question of who is included and who is excluded from the American dream.

Course

In this course, Dr Niall Munro (Oxford Brookes University) explores the concept of the American dream throughout American literature. In the first module, we think about the origins and nature of the dream, focusing on James Truslow Adams’ definition of the dream as searching for “a better, richer and happier life”. In the second module, we consider what a “better” life means through the lens of immigration, from John Winthrop’s A City Upon A Hill (1630) speech, all the way to Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987). In the third, we look at the idea of a “richer” life, examining generational wealth and privilege in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1947). Finally, in the fourth module, we turn to the idea of a “happier” life, outlining the importance of optimism to American identity and to John Steinbeck’s work The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Lecturer

Dr Niall Munro is Senior Lecturer in American Literature at Oxford Brookes University and Director of the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre. His research and teaching focuses on American modernist writing. His most recent publications include Hart Crane’s Queer Modernist Aesthetic (2015) and (as co-editor) On Commemoration: Global Reflections Upon Remembering War (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Munro, N. (2022, September 06). The American Dream - A Richer Life [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/the-american-dream/theme-two-a-richer-life

MLA style

Munro, N. "The American Dream – A Richer Life." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Sep 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/the-american-dream/theme-two-a-richer-life

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