Choose a cultural representation of the American dream. You
may select almost anything from an advertisement to a video game provided that it is
something we have not already discussed extensively in class. Music, movies, paintings,
and poems make particularly promising objects of analysis. Whatever you choose,
analyze it. Use at least five course readings to do a close reading of this particular
representation of the American Dream. Consider the choices the artist(s) made: what
image of America is shown and what is left out? Who is the implied audience, and how
was it received? Analyze how this cultural text fits into its historic context: what does it
tell us about the era when it was made or popular? What image(s) of American identity
does it communicate? What is its version of the American dream?
Course Reading includes:
– Langston Hughes, “Let
America Be America Again”
(1935) and Philip Alston, U.N.
Special Rapporteur on Extreme
Poverty and Human Rights,
“Statement on Visit to the USA”
-Read: Cullen, American Dream
-Read: Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick
-Read: Kathryn Schulz, “Citizen
Khan” New Yorker (2016) and
Emma Lazarus, “The New
-Read: Alicia Schmidt Camacho,
Migrant Imaginaries: Latino
Cultural Politics in the U.S.
-Read: Lieu, American Dream in
– Read: Coates, Between the
World and Me
-Read: Mae Ngai, “Immigration’s
Border-Enforcement Myth” New
York Times (2018).