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Critical Insights: The American Dream

by Keith Newlin


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“The American Dream” is a phrase that has become an essential component of the American experience, a phrase that, once entered into the national lexicon, has come to define our nation’s identity, underlying nearly every aspect of our lives. And since the birth of the founding document of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the idea of “the American Dream” has become a pervasive and frequently deconstructed theme within the canon of American literature. Edited by Keith Newlin, Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of North Carolina, Critical Insights: The American Dream offers thirteen original essays exploring the contexts and expressions of the dream as it is reflected in our imaginative literature. For readers who are studying it for the first time, a four essays survey the critical conversation regarding the theme, explore its cultural and historical contexts, and offer close and comparative readings of key texts in the genre. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the theme can then move on to other essays that explore it in depth through a variety of critical approaches. Works discussed include The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant, Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gomez, and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, as well as the works of Willa Cather, Cormac McCarthy, Theodore Dreiser, and Michal Gold, among others. Among the contributors are Donna Packer-Kinlaw, Carol S. Loranger, Steven Frye, Roark Mulligan, and Lee Schweninger. Rounding out the volume are a list of literary works not mentioned in the book that concern the theme as well as a bibliography of critical sources for readers seeking to study this timeless theme in greater depth.

Publication Details

Salem Press
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