1. Please read and annotate American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance. You will find it easily online by using Google. It’s a slow read but rewarding and incredibly beautiful in parts.
“Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
2. Carefully read David Kamp’s “Rethinking the American Dream. You can access this piece at Vanity Fair Magazine from the April, 2009 issue.
I have also saved it as a word document minus the pictures and advertisements and added page numbers for easy reference.
Are you surprised that the term, the American Dream, was created during the Great Depression in the early 1930s by James Truslow Adams? How did he define the American Dream? How has it changed over time? What is David Kamp’s ultimate point about the great American Dream?
3. Post regarding these writings — you will be posting once in a major way and responding to at least two of your peers in detail.
Discuss any aspect of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “SELF-RELIANCE,” that captured your interest and connect his work to the ideas about the American Dream that David Kamp proposes in “Rethinking the American Dream. For example: What does it take to be a man or woman in Emerson’s thinking? Why is living for others not a good idea? How would Emerson view our material world?
Select quotes that you would like to discuss regarding Emerson’s ideas. He is our “oldest” author read in this course, and he comes from an earlier, perhaps less complex time in American life. His ideas, however, have earned him the name “American Philosopher.” Select quotes you would like to discuss — either because you agree with them or because you do not. Post these ideas and comment. Ask your peers to comment as well.
David Kamp traces the history of the term “the American Dream” for us. He tells us that the term originated during the Great Depression of the 1930s and shows us how it has morphed over time. He also backs up and looks at the founding fathers’ version of the American ideal.
So, how does the original idea of the American dream as James Truslow Adams defined it intersect with Emerson’s thinking in Self-Reliance, written in the mid 1800s?
What is David Kamp’s ultimate purpose in writing this essay on the American Dream? What is his main point and his concluding idea? What would Emerson say about Kamp’s ideas? What do you say about his “history” of the dream? How do Kamp’s observations intersect with your own?
We are interested in whatever catches your interest in these two works. Please add a topic or two of your own choosing so this discussion board reveals your voice and your ideas.
4. Upload your first week writing on your place in the American Dream
write a two-page narrative on the American Dream and your place within it.
Using your best writing skills and referring often to this week’s readings by Emerson and Kamp and also to popular culture and media, tell the story of your dream. What is it? How does it differ from the dreams of your grandparents or from those of your peers? How does your concept act as a catalyst to drive your life? Or is the American Dream no longer a viable aspect of American life and philosophy?
You can write anything, of course, but you must explain yourself. What do you base your feelings upon? What actions, realities, and happenings have caused you to feel the way you do?
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