We are delighted to announce the 2013 American Studies Graduate Student Conference, “Reimagining the American Dream,” scheduled for April 4-5, 2013.
The theme of the conference (excerpted below) stems from the Department’s annual theme, “Dream!”
In the early 20th century, historian James Truslow Adams wrote that the American Dream was “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller,” and yet time and again this promise of opportunity has fallen short: opportunity and prosperity are not demonstrably available to all, and yet this promise, this dream, continues to circulate in the personal and political imagination. After Adams’ early statements on the dream, there emerged a particular vision of dream-status in American postwar prosperity that was countered by global revolutionary and post-colonial movements. Yet the dream bore on into the cocaine-fueled 80s, only to be brought into question once more by a succession of bursting economic bubbles.
Given its historical weight, we hope to interrogate and reimagine the American Dream through a series of conversations. To what extent is the American Dream a myth rather than a real possibility? Who has access to its promises? What are the limits of prosperity? How have people leveraged the dream myth? What does the “American Dream” even mean in the 21st century, as the country is in the midst of vast demographic and technological changes? If we have an American dream, what is the American nightmare, and how might American dreams and nightmares coexist or be mutually constitutive?
The conference will feature panel discussions and a keynote by Dr. Claire Jean Kim (University of California Irvine):
Claire Jean Kim holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Political Science and Asian American Studies. She also holds a courtesy appointment in African American Studies. She is the author of Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press, 2000) which won the American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Award for the best book on ethnic and cultural pluralism. Her current book project explores the intersections of race, culture, nation, and species in the contemporary U.S. She is also working on two collaborative projects. The first concerns the Obama phenomenon and the question of postraciality, and the second undertakes a comparative and historical analysis of the construction of Asian Americans and Latinos in the national imagination.