TuWTh 01:00-03:30 pm 105 Dwinelle Instructor: Cory Merrill

Finding America, Founding America, Foundling America

Session D July 2nd – August 10th

From Columbus’s ‘discovery’ of America to the Pilgrims’ settlement, from the Sons of Liberty to the Founding Fathers, the dominant stories of America’s cultural founding draw heavily from contradictory themes of finding, abandoning, and founding one’s roots. While American origin stories often thematize the loss, abandonment, or reestablishment of family and heritage, these foundational myths also tend to obscure the history of imperialism, racial oppression, violence, and exploitation that forms American political bedrock. Put another way, American origin stories have their own history of abandonment, neglect, and disownment.

Who are the abandoned children of America’s myth-making? Who, then, are America’s founding fathers? And is the U.S. a culture founded by (its) foundlings?

Myths, themes, and materials to be covered include, inter alia,

  • The American Dream and the Founding Fathers via James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Toni Morrison;
  • The Settlement of the American West, via Sherman Alexie, Leslie Marmon Silko, and materials such as West World, Reel Injun’The Searchers, and Maverick
  • American exemplarity, racial ‘passing,’ racial imposter syndrome, America as ‘the great melting pot,’ multiculturalism, and diversity-driven models of American exceptionalism via such works as Master of NoneKey & PeeleThe Chappelle Show, and Nella Larsen’s Passing.