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Lecture 1 freedom and the american dream

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This is the introductory lecture of American civlization classes for 1st year students of English at ISLN.
It presents the founding myths and value of the USA

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Lecture 1 freedom and the american dream

  1. 1. 1
  2. 2.  On a piece of paper, write down your names and the 3 first words that come to your mind when you think of America.  Turn the paper and write down the three first words that come to your mind when you think of Tunisia. 2
  3. 3. Word size corresponds to frequency of response3
  4. 4. 4
  5. 5.  “freedom” (26%)  “liberty” (16%),  “democracy”, “patriotism” and “red, white and blue” (10 %). (survey conducted by the Pioneer in 2011) 5
  6. 6. An influential value in founding the American Nation. Declaration of Independence (1776) “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 6
  7. 7.  A God-given haven  A Land of opportunities  A new Promised land  Equal opportunities  Prosperity and a better life  “From rags to riches” 7
  8. 8. Started as a farm boy 8
  9. 9. Walt Disney was also brought up in a farm – he used to draw pictures for his neighbors for money. 9
  10. 10. Jobs was given away for adoption by his biological father and had to drop out of college, because his education was costly for his foster parents 10
  11. 11. Born to a housemaid and a coalminer, Oprah lived a life of poverty, where she used to have to wear dresses made out of potato sacks. 11
  12. 12. America provides opportunities but,  Work ethics  Personal merit  Hard work (inherited from the early Puritan settlers) 12
  13. 13.  Importance and legitimacy of material possession for Americans  Status symbols indicate one’s personal worth  No shame of being rich (nor showing it) 13
  14. 14. 14
  15. 15.  Raises flaming torch at the entrance of NY  Attracted millions of newcomers  American dream still alive in minds of refugees 15
  16. 16. 16
  17. 17.  US: A country of immigrants  American Unity is born out of diversity  E pluribus unum  « Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of man. » 17
  18. 18. However:  USA was not founded by people of all nations.  Founded by European Puritan settlers: WASPS  WASPS became the norm : Assimilation  Ethnic groups, minorities  Pluralism, multiculturalism (languages)  Separatist movements  “Salad bowl” 18
  19. 19. 18th and 19th Centuries: The frontier period  Movement to the West Americans developped adaptability to survive in the wilderness. Pragmatism, individualism, and Self- reliance 19
  20. 20.  Power of the individual to control destiny  Pragmatism: Do-it-yourself mentality  Opposed to government intervention  Promoting private initiative  No reliance on the State in times of crisis  Volunteer associations & charities 20
  21. 21.  Those who fail are considered as :  Responsible for their destiny  Guilty of unachievement  Lazy 21
  22. 22. 22
  23. 23.  American society very mobile  Geographically: 13 % of Americans move every year.  Socially: Upward mobility is the expectations of all Americans. Absence of a rigid class system. Vast middle class. The only criteria is income distribution 23
  24. 24.  American dream to be shared by all mankind  America has a mission: export its model civilization abroad  Westward expansion: Land either bought or took by force  Once the continent entirely settled: American expansionism abroad and leadership role 24

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