HL98: Constructing America's Moral Identity: Authority vs. the Individual




This tutorial examines the American individual as a product and producer of environment. We will contemplate whether America's "moral identity" is one that comes from the individual or society, looking at the ways in which individuals contemplate their relationship to authoritative structures from the family to the city to the nation state. By appealing to morality, our texts will look at both the promise of America, as well as its perceived failures in creating a unified sense of purpose and national identity. In considering the construction of the self through various forms of media, we consider the problem of representation: are individuals masters of their domain or are they corrupted by the culture they consume? As we address the quest for the authentic self, we will explore whether this concept is one born out of misplaced anxieties, false nostalgia, or the actual tragedy of innocence lost.