America: The Usable Cliché

Critical Writing
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In Reciting America, Christopher Douglas examines the discursive facility of the “American dream” as the fundamental cliché that “America,” as a national, historical, and social body, uses to talk of itself to itself. Douglas by no means assumes a monolithic vision of “America” as a geopolitical and cultural entity, nor does he delineate a singular narrative or genealogy of the American dream. Rather, what he rightfully brings to the fore is the extent to which the discourse of the American dream, like other ideals of American national exceptionalism (liberty, justice, right of self-determination, self-reliant individualism), functions as a national ideology, as individuals past and present invoke its vocabulary, myths, and ideals to map themselves as American citizen-subjects, economic-subjects, and literary-subjects. Hence Reciting America explores the linguistic, semiotic, and most importantly, the social significance of reciting American clichés.

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Trung Tran