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1. What is the American Dream?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the origins and nature of the American dream, focusing on: (i) the ambiguous nature of the dream; (ii) James Truslow Adams’ definition of it as the search for “a better, richer and happier life”; and (iii) the connection between the American dream and ideas of liberty as outlined in the US Declaration of Independence (1776).
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).
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
Munro, N. (2022, September 06). The American Dream - What is the American Dream? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/the-american-dream/what-is-the-american-dream
Munro, N. "The American Dream – What is the American Dream?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 06 Sep 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/the-american-dream/what-is-the-american-dream