January 8, 2008, January 8 - February 26 - Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Appreciating American Identity
Seminar Series organized and led by Amy Kass
January 8 through February 26.
Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C. Headquarters
Tuesday evenings, January 8 through February 26; 5:30—8PM
Amy Kass, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Two major questions informed this pilot seminar program: "What makes an American an American?" and "Who are we Americans as a people?" Proceeding on the assumption that American identity is a matter of the heart, as well as of the mind, and that American character embodies more than adherence to lofty principles and knowledge of our history and institutions, this seminar explored issues of American identity using American imaginative literature-short stories. The 25 participants in these 8 seminars, each devoted to a different short story, included young people actively interested in American civic and political life, seasoned scholars and others with experience in public life. We began by exploring the importance of national identity and the meaning of our guiding political principles-freedom and equality. Next, we looked at the effects of these principles on the American character, and where our principles have led us, individually and collectively. Finally, we thought about non-political teachings, supplementing those of freedom and equality that might be needed to sustain and perpetuate our civic life.
Readings: Edward Everett Hale, "The Man Without a Country," Kurt Vonnegut, "Harrison Bergeron" (with the Declaration of Independence), Jack London, "To Build a Fire," Willa Cather, "On the Divide," Henry James, "Pandora" (with Benjamin Franklin, "Project for Moral Perfection"), Mark Twain, "The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg," Flannery O'Connor, "The Artificial Nigger," Stephen Crane, "The Open Boat," Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The May-Pole of Merry Mount."
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