"What's American About America?"

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Lecture by:

Michael Aaron Rockland
Professor of American Studies
Rutgers University
131 George St.
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Personal Website   michaelrockland.com
Latest books: "Navy Crazy" and "An American Diplomat in Franco Spain"

The title of the talk is "What's American About America?" Obviously, this is a large topic--worthy of a whole course--but I'm boiling it down to a single  talk of about an hour in which I began by presenting a list that an American intellectual, John Kouwenhoven (who taught at Columbia University) crafted way back tin 1954 of what he considered a dozen typically American artifacts that illustrate the American character.

There is a second list of a dozen which is my own list of today that doesn't contradict what Kouwenhoven has to say but complements and updates it to 2015.  Both lists concern what Kouwenhoven calls "process" as opposed to "product" (which he ascribes to the older civilizations ofd the world) and suggest the improvisational aspect of American culture, its forever unfinished quality, the mobility principle.

     If there is time, I'd enjoy asking the audience if they have yet other ideas to add to the list, German ideas about the United States--its people and their modes of expression, their popular culture, their artifacts and how these might compare to German ones. So, in a best case  scenario, I would speak for an hour and then ask the audience to question what I had to say and perhaps construct some parts of a new or amended list of their own. It would be great to have at least 15 more minutes for that part of the occasion.


Friday, 20. March 2015 - 11:00 to 13:00
Event Type: