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The American Dream

 12:30 Seminar

From the beginning, America was built to be "a city on the hill," a beacon of light, a shining example of what constitutes a good society held up for the rest of the world's view. Yet this "city" was built on a dream-the American Dream. But what is this Dream? Many have tried to define it, but the dream has taken as many shapes and forms as the dreamers themselves. Some might argue it is the promise of rags to riches success. But what is this success? Can it be measured by the accumulation of wealth and prosperity? Others might say it is the pursuit of happiness and the freedom to live within a good society. But what is this pursuit of happiness and freedom to live? What if our ideas clash? Does everyone have equal access to this dream of freedom and happiness? And are some allowed to "dream" more than others? If so, why? In this course we will discuss these questions and examine the many forms the American Dream has taken within our society, including, but not limited to, freedom and liberty, equality, wealth, power, love, family, community, education, justice, a meaningful life, and the pursuit of happiness. We will also see how it informs our notion of what is a "good" and "bad" society and explore how this dream can sometimes turn into nightmare. Students will be required to read various essays and literary texts that inform the discussion throughout the semester, but the primary focus will be on the "reading" and screening of American films (and some television shows) which may include, Rocky, Pretty Woman, Tombstone, Fight Club, The Incredibles, The Notebook, American Dreamz, Last Temptation of Christ, Bonnie & Clyde, Sharks Tale, Crash, Spiderman, Dirty Harry, Pleasantville, The Family Stone, The Godfather I & II, Robots, and Citizen Kane.