American Culture Values and Tradition

Assigned Readings Catherine O’Donnell, “Literature and Politics in the Early Republic: Views from the Bridge.” Journal of the Early Republic, 30, (Summer 2010): 279-292. Reading: Betty E. Chmaj, “Fry versus Dwight: American Music’s Debate over Nationality.” American Music, 3 (Spring 1985): 63-84. One of the themes for this first week is this broad movement to create a national set of values and an identity. There needed to be a meaning to “American” beyond simply coming from or belonging to a place. Attempts were made to understand what was different, distinct, perhaps even unique, to living in this land and society. We could say that attempts were also made to create or force an understanding. With all of that being said, one element that really was at the heart of this movement in the mid-nineteenth century was a belief in democracy and its presence in living in this nation. For your first journal entry, here is your question: In the United States, it has long been held that the structuring of government and society around a democratic ideal is responsible for the way this nation has grown and developed. The democratic spirit is not the commonly perceived “an individual is free to do as she or he pleases” but rather that an individual has legal rights and protections providing one with an active voice in pursuing his or her life (i.e. one’s liberties). What do the articles (Both of Them!) identify that that promotes this democratic ideal in 19th Century American culture and do you feel that this is true for our modern society.  Remember, this is reflective writing. Answer the question using ideas and examples from the readings as your foundation, but the vast majority of your writing should be identifying your ideas and explaining them. Reflect fully. Week Three Journal Question 2 Assigned Readings Angela Latham. “Packaging Women: The Concurrent Rise of Beauty Pageants, Public Bathing, and Other Performances of Female ‘Nudity.’” Journal of Popular Culture 29: 3 (1995): 149-67. Larry Gragg. “‘A Big Step to Oblivion for Las Vegas?’ The ‘Battle of the Bare Bosoms,’ 1957–59.” The Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 43, No. 5, (2010): 1004-1022. In our Week Three lectures, we focus on the human body engaging in recreational activities. In a story as old as humanity itself, there are those who enjoy and those who condemn. There are those who wish to reform and those who wish to censor. It is fun, it is sin, it is a waste of time. These activities are many things to many people, only reminding us of the pluralism in society – age, gender, class, religion, occupation, education, region and so on, and so on and so on… Can there be any other direction for our reflection than to think about human bodies and recreation? Of course not. For this week’s journal entry I want you to discuss how the perceptions and treatment of bodies in the readings compare to what you see and understand today?

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