Nathan Ryan Reeves

America the Marvelous-Thesis/Theme & or Proverb (America is good or bad? which one is it?)

The article “America the Marvelous” is very reminiscent of the perspective that Barry Blitt writes. What it reminds me of is a conversation I had with my friend where we agreed that “America wasn’t the greatest country in the world”, which proceeded with a list of reasons why we hate America. But after some time, there was this childlike positivity spark, the kind of spark that makes you think that you can do anything, and we then thought about the sparkly image of America and what really it has done over the years (while still retaining the dull character that comes along with the negatives).

The way that I would describe the beginning of the article is that America is the worst place in the world. This comes down to the naïve nature that Americans pose, and the bias that Americans are all selfish monsters that create what they want and destroy what they do not want. Not that America plays God, but at some points, the attitude feels godlike with the power of a child throwing a tantrum. The childish image of America is really carrying its already tattered image to a whole new level, while the rest of the world is laughing in our faces. The only thing I can laugh about is the fact that Brexit happened, so that is something that I have on Europe as a whole, but I digress.

However, to contrast in the later paragraphs, Blitt attacks the rest of the world for the fact that the old world patronizes the younger nation of America. For instance, in the quote below, there is a great example of America setting the tone for many of the things that the world can take for granted.

“These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York. More than that, more shaming and hypocritical than that, these are people who collectively owe their nations’ and their personal freedom to American intervention and protection in wars”

While it never stood out to me, it did kind of shock me when I finally realized that the rest of the world hates America, yet the US stands out as one of the most important countries culturally and economically. The cultural part of this example can be mixed since yes we make and consume products that the rest of the world adores, but that doesn’t counteract the fact that America can be very unsympathetic of other cultures and of other peoples from other cultures. I guess the underlying racism covered up by the positives can be added to the reasons that America sucks so much. Chocolates and flowers can’t cover up the fact that America has a shiny yet stinky culture.

The rest of the articles builds this theme of accomplishments, and what that means in the long run of the image of America and Americans as a whole. While not all people are naïve and selfish, just as not all Americans are lazy and unhealthy, the fact of the matter is that a country like the US is not the most perfect in the world and that when it is all said and done, while hated, America has its influence all over the globe, even if the rest of the world hates it.

Catherine Dodd Corona

America the Marvelous

A Response to Gills Main Aim

Progymnasmata: Proverb

Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect. These same people will use every comforting, clever, and ingenious American invention, will demand America’s medicine, wear its clothes, eat its food, drink its drink, go to its cinema, love its music, thank God for its expertise in a hundred disciplines, and will all adore New York.

In recent times people are quick to trash America. I suspect it is because critically analyzing the challenges the States faces is too difficult, so their solution is to trash talk Americans and use them as a scapegoat. People outside of America seem to be extremely critical of what we do and how we do it. Funny, because most of the time they only offer cynicism and no constructive feedback. Somewhat like a bully in the third grade. Even though I am praising the point above, I completely understand that America faces real obstacles and could improve on many structural aspects of our country. However, people often forget the tremendous accolades America has produced. They reap the benefits from our scientific discoveries, and cultural exports, yet they seem to sit on a high horse above it all, while they feed it a Big Mac and scroll through the internet. I remember while traveling through Southeast Asia, people would ask where I’m from. The moment I said the states I was then an ambassador for all Americans forced to go to defend the many issues people were consumed with. At first I agreed with most foreigners, but after a while I started to argue for the greatness of the States tooth and nail. How could I betray the place that raised me and gave me everything I am today? The best response I started to come up with was simply nodding my head and then asking, “Why do you care so much about what we do in the States?” Their response was often because we are so darn terrible, but I always tried to say, “You care because of how important we are. You care because America’s decisions affect the world, when was the last time people cared so much about your country?” It was a very arrogant response, but also very American. Gill goes on to mention that Europeans love to turn their nose at smelly Americans, yet our decisions historically and today still affect their lives. But sadly Americans seem to do that too. There is a lack of gratitude for what this country gives the world. Again I do not want to negate the palpable and massive issues America needs to fix. Although, I believe what Gill is pointing out is there needs to be some gratitude or validated patriotism for the States. He nor I am saying to blindly support this country while belting the star spangled banner, but think critically about what the States has done and given you. Be as critical as you want, but have it be constructive criticism. Stop trashing the states because it makes you feel smart, educated, and above it all. 

Simona Barca

Fifty Shades of Greyhound

In “Fifty Shades of Greyhound,” Harrison Scott Key praises the idea of a “bus person.” A bus person, he says, is not like a plane person, who is pretentious and talks about skiing or doesn’t talk to you at all because they will be off the plane in a few hours and why would they spend that time talking to you? A bus person, he argues, is a person who will delve into conversations of truth and life because they’ll be on that bus for well over 10 hours and will have plenty of time for such self-reflection and must share their findings with their fellow passengers. The bus person is a very specific kind of no non-sense, tell-it-like-it-is traveler. The writer praises the idea of a bus person to show his audience that the mind space of a bus person is somethin we all have the capacity to be and should occasionally get off our high horse and realize that we all at one point or another at least had the elusive dream of being a bus person, or leaving everything behind and hopping on a bus either for new adventure or to forget about life’s responsibilities for a while. Whether we want to admit it or not, we envy the bus person who just hops on a bus and goes.

Jack Albert Nusenow

Progym: Narrative

There is in Europe another popular snobbery, about the parochialism of America, the unsophistication of its taste, the limit of its inquiry. This, we’re told, is proved by “how few Americans travel abroad.” Apparently, so we’re told, only 35 percent of Americans have passports. Whenever I hear this, I always think, My good golly gosh, really? That many? Why would you go anywhere else? There is so much of America to wonder at. So much that is the miracle of a newly minted civilization. And anyway, European kids only get passports because they all want to go to New York.

Like most things I think, the truth is somewhere in the middle. A. A. Gill is right — America’s cultural contributions to the modern world have permeated every connected community around the globe. America’s infamy and pain reaches just as far. For all our pride, we should have just as much shame. On the international stage, we needn’t pay attention to the petty insults coming from old Europe that Gill describes. They still rely on us, which means that these insults, ultimately, are empty.

Spending any time at all on defending against these is simply wasted time, and romantic ode’s to America’s greatness often feel empty, like they leave out the deep shame of America’s past and present.

Phillip Wade Wilson

Stupid Americans or Stupid Europeans: Commonplace

In America the Marvelous by A. A. Gill, the commonly held notions between the view of America from a European lens is explained.

“Americans are stupid, crass, ignorant, soul-less, naïve oafs without attention, irony, or intellect”

This is a commonly understood way of how Europeans view Americans, and in all honesty, it is correct. The average American who travels abroad does not understand the tourist gaze, the cultural norms of the place they visit, or even the sheer privilege of being an American has on them. Americans typically just make reservations at a hotel, buy a plane ticket, and jet-set off to whatever country piques their interest.

A lot of discussions have been had recently about cultural norms in class and what makes an American feel like an American. As viewed in Tresspass by Theroux, what made him feel like an American was being taken advantage of, and having the unknowing of culture turned against him. When Americans travel abroad, as I stated earlier, they typically do not research before traveling abroad. And due to this, it not only casts them in a negative light for appearing that they are above another’s culture but also puts the tourist at a disadvantage for their lack of knowledge.

Though, as explained by Gill, Europeans also take America for granted due to its advantages. This type of understanding of the world does not simply refer to one nation or area over another, but rather nearly all places. There is this idea of “snobbery” that pervades the ideals of Europeans due to the culture that surrounds western ideals. While there are many problems with America and its schools of thought, the origination of western thought has given Europeans a sense of superiority. Europeans hold certain American aspects in high regard, but they still look down on others. What Gill is explaining is the tourist gaze of America by another western nation and details how the tourist gaze affects Europeans specifically.

Samuel James Conroy

Gill Chreia

Chreia Progymnasmata

            A.A. Gill provides a divisive piece titled, “America the Marvelous,” in which he describes why America is better than Europe. Gill himself is British so he is not writing this as an American praising America. The article goes into why America is better than Europe through Gill’s life experiences. The piece starts off with Gill recounting a time where he was at an elite liberal dinner party in Europe and a woman at the dinner was desecrating America. She would say, “Stupid, stupid. Americans are stupid. America is stupid. A stupid, stupid country made stupid by stupid, stupid people” (Gill). This is a common take among Europeans, that America is uneducated, loud, annoying, spoiled etc… However, Gill disagrees with this. He believes that America is everything Europe wishes it was, and that the sly remarks are mere jealousy. He backs up his claims by providing evidence of America’s successes, such as having 14 out of the top 20 schools in the world, winning more Nobel prizes than Germany, France, Britain, Japan, and Russia combined, and having 22 peace prized with 12 being for literature.

This is another common diss at America that our literature is not intellectual. Gill states, “It was Camus who sniffily said that only in America could you be a novelist without being an intellectual” (Gill). This attack is misguided as in America, writing is much more straight-forward and plain, there is not a hidden meaning behind every writing that needs to be solved. This is no way means that the writing is of lower quality, it is just simpler to understand. Gill then goes through America’s sudden rise to becoming a world power, and that those who contributed went to America as they knew it was better than the old world.

Gill’s thoughts obviously clash with just about everyone who is not American, however, his evidence more than backs up his claims. He ends the piece with a fantastic jab at Europeans, he states:

“There is in Europe another popular snobbery, about the parochialism of America, the unsophistication of its taste, the limit of its inquiry. This, we’re told, is proved by “how few Americans travel abroad.” Apparently, so we’re told, only 35 percent of Americans have passports. Whenever I hear this, I always think, My good golly gosh, really? That many? Why would you go anywhere else? There is so much of America to wonder at. So much that is the miracle of a newly minted civilization. And anyway, European kids only get passports because they all want to go to New York” (Gill).

This bit of banter is a brilliant way to conclude the piece in stating that the reason Americans do not leave America is because why would they? It is better than anywhere else and that Europeans who travel just come to America anyways.

Ehren Joseph Layne

Response to A.A. Gill’s “America the Marvelous”

It’s always disappointing to read pieces of literature by great authors who – disappointingly – are unforgivingly white. I have no problem with white authors (except for J.D. Salinger – you know why) and often praise them for their whit, eloquent speech, and disorienting allusions: authors like Thomas Moore, Marie de France, and Homer. As much as I appreciate white literature (white American and white European I use interchangeably)  and understand it to be the norm (albeit forcefully) for intellectual discourse, I can’t forgive white authors for being the very thing they are: white. 

A.A. Gill in his piece “America the Marvelous” argues that Europeans are hypocritical normies who purposefully refute the greatness of America to make themselves feel more superior. He strings together various reasons for why America is so great: the US has some of the best universities in the world, the most Nobel prize winners, and New York City. For all of these reasons, Gill confirms that Europeans only ridicule Americans out of their own self-pity and need for a farce to indulge themselves in the benefits of insults. A.A. Gill paints this marvelous image of America, one of an idealistic, diverse, complicated, cosmopolitan country; in Gill’s eyes, once you’ve stepped foot in America, you’ll never want to leave. You’ll be pulled in by America’s greatness and would dread the idea of returning to Europe, Africa – wherever you may be from. This is Gill’s argument, for his animosity towards our European counterparts has grown so great that he believes throwing insults back at them is the best way to find common ground; and although Gill never says it openly, I –  as I imagine most black, Asian, Hispanic people would – understood exactly what Gill really wants to say. Behind all this misplaced anger, Gill was just bragging about being white. All he did was talk about white people: who they are and what they’ve done, although he did gloss over a few things:  slavery, redlining, COINTELPRO, Jim Crow, Vietnam war, war on drugs, Cuban Missle Crisis, segregation, Japanese internment camps, the KKK, the Proud Boys, mass shootings, Native American genocide, Richard Nixon, the South, Chinese Exclusion Act, Guantanamo Bay, the My Lai Massacre, Emmett Till’s murder, the Wilmington coup (seriously, look this up), the Sand Creek Massacre, Santa Barbara Oil Spill, smallpox, neo-nazis, police brutality, Executive order 10450 (look this up too), Operation Wetback, Dredd Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the death of Treyvon Martin. But I guess none of this matters to A.A. Gill because he got to sing Be Bop a Lula (a song I have never heard as an American) in front of and with other white people. It’s almost sickening once you’ve realized what A.A. Gill has done: he’s made America into an oasis by distinguishing it from Europe, but still using Europe as the starting point of American culture, and by accentuating a few good outcomes over years and years of negative ones. I should mention again, Gill can only write in such a way because he is white; his argument and reasons for arguing are white noise to any person who isn’t white. He’s just another patriotic American white guy who has no shame, urges others to only look at the good, and abuses his whiteness so take bring himself above not only Europeans (who are also white), but anybody who isn’t also white (I use white a lot in this piece and I hope you understand why by now). Gill is just shouting into a white void – he’s furiously screaming at our European counterparts to understand how their history and ours are linked, and that we came out the better nation in the end. He condemns their snobbery, hypocrisy, and self-indulgence, all of which – I can logically assume – makes him feel like the bigger, better white guy. I don’t know A.A. Gill personally, so what I’m saying might come off as defacement; most readers would assume I’m any angry black guy lashing out on “white oppressors.” To an extent, that is true, but I assure you I am doing more than that.


I am trying to paint a picture of America as a whole,  not the bits and pieces Gill uses to develop his argument. America needs to be seen, in any light, by the good and the bad, they cannot exist without one another. Too often white authors only paint the picture of white America (even though Gill mentions Jazz which set me off), completely omitting the history of non-white Americans. If Gill and any other white American wishes to uplift America as this utopian-esque society with still more room to grow, they must also mention what is weighing America down: all the bigotry, hate, narcissism, and history that comes with being an American. Say what you will about Europeans: their accents suck (this is a joke for I am quite fond of British, French, and Spanish accents), most of them never reach 5’10, and they’re all stuck in the past. As bad as all this may seem, America is no better, and rather than pointing fingers, we should focus our energies on doing and being better; the first step, admitting to yourself Mr. Gill that you are white, and you have privilege.

Lucas Enrique Fernandez

America With Love

Thesis or Theme:

Interestingly, the “land of the free” where people are supposed to flock if they want to live the American Dream…does not have the best reputation. People abroad can insult the United States out loud and the people in the surrounding area would just mumble in agreement. In A.A. Gill’s America With Love he challenges this natural instinct to bandwagon the stigma the US has built. Gill pushes back on his fellow Europeans snarky, sometimes incorrect comments with factual accomplishments from the nation.

Well, how stupid can America actually be? On the international list of the world’s best universities, 14 of the top 20 are American. Four are British. Of the top 100, only 4 are French, and Heidelberg is one of 4 that creeps in for the Germans. America has won 338 Nobel Prizes. The U.K., 119. France, 59. America has more Nobel Prizes than Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia combined.

Not only does he do this but he also throws the hypocrisy of Europeans back at them. The people complaining about America will do so leaving the movie theater where they watched an Avengers movie while listening to Travis Scott. In short, if you are enjoying American culture, inventions, and practices then you should not act like they are lesser than you.

In the second half of his article, Gill asserts that the main reason people hate the United States is because of how similar they are but how successful the US has become. The United States came from Europe, its culture is etched across many places and disciplines in the US. However, while Britain had declined during the 20th century, for example, the US became stronger than ever, using the World Wars to drag itself out of the Great Depression. In the short lifespan the country has had, it has become a global superpower and a resounding success story. In the end, Gill praises the United States for doing this and even berates himself for formerly agreeing with the notion of these other Europeans.

Aongus Mui

Fifty Shades of Greyhound- Harrison Scott Key Progym: Comparison

Fifty Shades of Greyhound- Harrison Scott Key
Progym: Comparison

Apart from the obvious fact that planes fly and busses travel on the road, there are still meny keen differences between the two. As Harrison Scott Key States “Bus People are nothing like Airplane People, who are boring and have luggage and enjoy skiing. Bus People, on the other hand, enjoy talking about grenades and screaming.” (Key) On airplanes there are flight attendants constantly attending to you, offering you snacks and drinks, assisting you with your every need. On busses it’s just you and the strangers around you, there is no attendant to help you with anything. Another thing Key mentions is “On an airplane, an empty seat is a small miracle, a sacred place to set one’s book. On a bus, though, the empty seat invites lurid napping positions that resemble the attitudes of those who’ve been buried in lava and discovered many years later.” (Key) The mindset of the people riding on planes versus the mindset of bus riders is different. Planes offer more of a luxurious feel than busses do. Plane tickets provide you with an assigned seat whereas busses are first come first serve. There is an overall different vibe between the two forms of transportation.

Paula I Arraiza

Greyhound Strangers

Progym: Impersonation

“These were my thoughts as I looked at the other passengers and noted a woman wearing a bologna sandwich on her head. Was there really a bologna sandwich on her head? Yes, unmistakably. Also, she wore a blue Snuggie.” (in Savannah)

(from the woman’s point of view)

As time passed on my extremely long journey to God-knows-where, I felt myself begin to go more and more crazy. Being confined to buses for long days and nights, with nowhere to sleep comfortably or any real food has definitely taken a toll on me. At this point in the journey, I do not care how I act or what I eat or what I’m wearing, or who around me is judging me. As my stomach growled from extreme hunger, caused by consuming sugar-filled snacks and a tremendous amount of gas station coffee for days on end, I saw my salvation coming near me: a sandwich shop. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing, I was so sleep deprived I could’ve cried from happiness. I skipped down the bus stairs like a kid coming down a bus to go into Disney World for the first time. With my blue Snuggie on for maximum comfort and not a care in the world, I went into this random sandwich shop to buy what felt like a gourmet meal. For some reason, my stomach decided it was craving bologna, so I obeyed and ordered a bologna sandwich. I happily walked my way back to the bus, which would hold me captive for a few more days before I reached my destination. I sat down on a random chair and decided, for some unknown reason except my craziness from this bus, to see how people would react if I held my beloved sandwich on top of my head. I got many odd looks, which were completely valid, but it was a fun time for me. At least I have this delicious sandwich and my comfortable Snuggie to keep me company for the rest of my journey.