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Reciting America Culture and Clich in Contemporary U.S. Fiction cover
  • ISBN: 9780252026034
  • ISBN10: 0252026039

Reciting America Culture and Clich in Contemporary U.S. Fiction

by Christopher Douglas

  • List Price: $35.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
  • Publish date: 02/01/2001
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Description
From "one nation under God" to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", what we say about being American is closely linked to how we understand ourselves as Americans. Through a close examination of four representative post -- World War II novels, Christopher Douglas illuminates the complex relationship between being American and reciting American discourses.

Reciting America provides fresh readings of Russell Banks's Continental Drift, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Maxine Hong Kingston's Woman Warrior, and T. Coraghessan Boyle's East Is East, as well as other texts such as the cartoons of Matt Groening and the presidential inaugural poems of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. In light of theories of Mikhail Bakhtin, Sacvan Bercovitch, and others, Douglas explores how these novels and other texts confront national discourse and strive, though with inconclusive results, to offer alternatives to the dominant ideology.

Douglas also examines the pervasive use of cliches, which he identifies as figures of speech that stimulate emotion or action while shortcircuiting reflection.

In its extreme cliched form, the American Dream consists of nothing more than advertising slogans and popular culture images; yet these pronouncements retain a powerful hold on the will and imagination of U.S. citizens.

Probing the limits of public discourse, the power of the American Dream cliche, and the complexity of identity in the United States, Reciting America is a sophisticated look at the range of motion available to individuals trying to act on the official texts that produce them as social beings.

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