American Dreams / American Nightmares

Engelsk A/B

In the context of the 2012 US Presidential Election, this module explores central American myths and values across a wide selection of cultural expressions.Through political speeches, excerpts from history books, fiction and film; central American concepts like the American Dream, the frontier, immigration, democracy, family and freedom will be investigated and discussed.The core issue of this module is to trace the development of these myths from their conception until today – from the Declaration of Independence through the Gettysburg Address and Kennedys new frontier to the dreams and promises of King and Obama. While the main emphasis will be given to rhetorical analysis of political speeches and non-fiction writing, film and fiction will be brought in to place these in a wider historical and cultural context. The last part of this module turns to the portrayal of the breakdown of traditional values in Sam Mendes’ film American Beauty (1999).

The mainstay of the module will be the chapter “USA – From British Colony to Superpower” in Finderup and Fog, Worlds of English (Systime 2010)

Core Materials

Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus (poem, 1883)
The Declaration of Independence (1776)
Preamble to The Constitution of the United States of America (1787)
Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address (Speech, 1863)
Edward N. Kearney, The Frontier Heritage (Non-Fiction, 1984)
John F. Kennedy, The New Frontier (Speech (excerpt) 1960)
John Steinbeck, The Leader of the People (Short story, 1933)
Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream (Speech, 1963)
Barack Obama, Victory Speech (2012)
Alan Parker, Mississippi Burning (1988)
Sam Mendes, American Beauty (Film, 1999)

Secondary Materials

West Wing (Pilot Episode)
John F. Kennedy, Rice Moon Landing Speech (video-clip)
Helle Birk, The Election of the American President (Non-Fiction, in American Issues, Systime, 2008)
Mitt Romney, RNC Speech 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMuU-EwcIzs&feature=relmfu
Barack Obama, DNC Speech 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd8MFmUDbg4
Language and Analytical Tools
Some differences between British and American English (Handout)
American English (from Worlds of English)Non-Fiction Analysis (Handout)
The Communication Model (Handout)
Rhetorical Devices and Forms of Appeal (Worlds of English)

In the News

In each lesson a pair of students give a short talk on a current news issue in the US Media.