Defining American


This course examines the question: What does it mean to be an American? We ask questions about race and ethnicity, as well as about ideology and beliefs. While we explore our own identities – whether American or not – we can all learn about ourselves by understanding “the other.” Analyzing historical as well as contemporary trends, we explore American ideology, institutions, and society, and how these inform and reflect an individual’s personal identity as an American. We look at concepts of patriotism, democracy, individualism, equality, capitalism, American Exceptionalism, the American Creed, and the American Dream. We explore the role immigration has played in America’s history, as well as how some see it currently challenging America’s identity. In our journey, we will expose myths and come to a more complex understanding of what it means to be an American.