American Studies
American Studies

Grad Student Conference: Reimagining the American Dream

Fri, April 5, 2013

8:00 AM - 7:00 PM

The 2013 Conference Committee is pleased to invite your submissions to the University of Texas at Austin American Studies Graduate Conference. The theme, “Reimagining the American Dream,” explores the narrative of the American Dream across time, space, and disciplines.

Reimagining the American Dream
April 4-5, 2013

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?

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