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Post-Nationalist American Studies

Post-Nationalist American Studies

EDITED BY John Carlos Rowe
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 271
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  • Book Info
    Post-Nationalist American Studies
    Book Description:

    Post-Nationalist American Studiesseeks to revise the cultural nationalism and celebratory American exceptionalism that tended to dominate American Studies in the Cold War era. The goal of the book's contributors is a less insular, more trans-national, comparative approach to American Studies, one that questions dominant American myths rather than canonizes them. Articulating new ways to think about American Studies, these essays demonstrate how diverse the field has become. Contributors are concerned with cross-cultural communication, race and gender, global and local identities, and the complex tensions between symbolic and political economies. Their essays explore, among other topics, the construction of "foreign" peoples and cultures; the notion of borders-territorial, racial, economic, and sexual; the "multilingual reality" of the United States; the place of the Mexican-American War in U.S. history; and the significance of Tiger Woods in today's global market of consumption. Together, the essays propose a renewed vision of the United States' role in the world and how American Studies scholarship can address that vision. Each contributor includes a sample syllabus showing how the issues discussed in individual essays can be brought into the classroom.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92526-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Barbara Brinson Curiel, David Kazanjian, Katherine Kinney, Steven Mailloux, Jay Mechling, John Carlos Rowe, George Sánchez, Shelley Streeby and Henry Yu

    Our group was initially organized under the title “Post-Nationalist American Studies.” In the call for applications, the description beneath the title, however, emphasized the intersections between changing models of American Studies and “ ‘post-national’ models for community and social organization.” During our weekly conversations, we frequently talked about the differences between the termspost-nationalistandpost-nationalas well as the implications of the prefixpost-more generally. Some of us were wary of the implications of thepost-in the phrase “post-national American Studies.” Whilepost-nationalhas gained a certain currency in discussions of globalization and in revisionary “New Americanists”...

  5. Post-Nationalism, Globalism, and the New American Studies
    (pp. 23-39)
    John Carlos Rowe

    Curricula and scholarship in American Studies have changed significantly over the past decade, reflecting the important influences of Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, and postmodern and postcolonial theories. Earlier approaches, such as the Puritan Origins and Myth-and-Symbol schools, attempted to elaborate those features of American identity and social organization that are unique national characteristics. Often implicit in this nationalist approach to the study of U.S. culture was the assumption that the United States constitutes a model for democratic nationality that might be imitated or otherwise adapted by other nations in varying stages of their “development.”

    The criticism of such “American Exceptionalism”...

  6. Creating the Multicultural Nation: Adventures in Post-Nationalist American Studies in the 1990s
    (pp. 40-62)
    George J. Sánchez

    In the summer of 1996, the movie blockbusterIndependence Dayreflected many of the attractions, contradictions, and ironies of post-nationalism in the United States embodied in both popular culture and academic discourse.¹ On one level, the previews for that movie enticed us to the theaters by depicting the explosion of virtually every important architectural symbol of nationalism in the United States: the White House and Capitol in Washington, D.C., the Empire State Building in New York (and in the movie a fallen Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor), and even Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles—that odd mixture...

  7. Rethinking (and Reteaching) the Civil Religion in Post-Nationalist American Studies
    (pp. 63-83)
    Jay Mechling

    Several years ago I inherited from my good friend and colleague, David S. Wilson, an undergraduate course entitled “Religion in American Lives.” I had been teaching an undergraduate course on “Technology, Science, and American Culture,” which examines science as a belief system and compares that belief system with other systems of belief and practices, including religion. Murphey’s essay “On the Relation between Science and Religion,” which argues that the culture critic has no meaningful grounds for making a distinction between the two systems, governs my perspective in teaching the science and technology course, so taking on the religion course meant...

  8. Foreign Affairs: Women, War, and the Pacific
    (pp. 84-109)
    Katherine Kinney

    Near the end of Joan Didion’s novelDemocracy,the main character, Inez Victor, the wife of a Kennedyesque senator, is waiting in Hong Kong in April of 1975 while her lover, Jack Lovett, searches for her daughter in Saigon. Lovett tells Inez to listen to the shortwave radio for the final evacuation order from the American embassy in Saigon. “Mother wants you to call home,” the American Service announcer would say and then play Bing Crosby singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This secret signal is no less absurd for the way in which it uncannily articulates Inez’s personal...

  9. Making Comparisons: First Contact, Ethnocentrism, and Cross-Cultural Communication
    (pp. 110-128)
    Steven Mailloux

    The new American Studies is going radically comparativist. In John Rowe’s words, it combines two models, one which “stresses the ‘comparative American cultures’ within the multiculture of the United States and another that allows us to situate domestic ‘multiculturalism’ within international, transnational, and potentially post-national contexts.”¹ That is, the two dimensions of this new Comparative American Studies are internal and external to the cultural practices located within the geopolitical boundaries of the United States. Internally comparativist: such an interpretive project displaces traditional American exceptionalism and replaces misleading tropes of national homogeneity with an analytic framework comparing not only separate ethnic...

  10. Race, Nation, Equality: Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative and a Genealogy of U.S. Mercantilism
    (pp. 129-165)
    David Kazanjian

    On July 4, 1789, four months into its first session, the U.S. Congress celebrated thirteen years of formal U.S. independence by passing its first tariff bill. The bill placed duties of 5–15 percent on approximately thirty different goods, ranging from nails to carriages, with the highest rates reserved for “articles of luxury.”¹ When James Madison proposed this “endeavour” with the first nonprocedural words uttered in the new Congress,² he represented the tariff as a means of restoring the lost unity of the nation, as my epigraph to this essay indicates.³ For Madison, “The deficiency in our Treasury” threatens the...

  11. Joaquín Murrieta and the American 1848
    (pp. 166-199)
    Shelley Streeby

    1998 marked the 150th anniversary of the American 1848, the year that gold was discovered in California just before the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo formally ended the war between the United States and Mexico. Eighteen forty-eight has been and continues to be, of course, a crucial date for Chicano Studies scholars and cultural workers. In the 1960s and 1970s writers and activists formulated theories of internal colonialism as responses to the events of 1848; more recently the violent break marked by the war has been central to work by Tomás Almaguer, Genaro Padilla, Beatrice Pita, José David...

  12. My Border Stories: Life Narratives, Interdisciplinarity, and Post-Nationalism in Ethnic Studies
    (pp. 200-222)
    Barbara Brinson Curiel

    A few years ago in Southern California, in response to a series of incidents in which border-crossers were hit by cars while fleeing across the highway from Immigration and Naturalization Service officers, a new traffic sign was installed to alert drivers to watch for people crossing the highway. It’s a well-known sign to Southern Californians. In a bright yellow diamond, a silhouetted family is captured in mid-stride. At the head of the line of figures is a running man; at his heels is the outline of a woman with a bobbed hairdo who is wearing a skirt. She runs while...

  13. How Tiger Woods Lost His Stripes: Post-Nationalist American Studies as a History of Race, Migration, and the Commodification of Culture
    (pp. 223-248)
    Henry Yu

    As the summer waned in 1996, the world was treated to the coronation of a new public hero. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, the twenty-year-old golf prodigy, captured his third straight amateur championship and then promptly declared his intention to turn professional. The story became a media sensation, transferring the material of sports page headlines to the front page of newspapers in a way usually reserved for World Series championships or athletes involved in sex and drug scandals. Television coverage chronicled every step of Tiger’s life, debating his impact upon the sport, and wondering if he was worth the reported $40 million...

  14. List of Contributors
    (pp. 249-252)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 253-258)