American Expression: Proficiency through Culture

What is ‘The American Dream’? What is its role in the creation of an American identity? How has it changed since the nation’s founding? Who decides its nature? Who benefits from its formulation? This course explores these questions by bringing together divergent visions of ‘The American Dream’ as expressed by American thinkers, writers, musicians, and filmmakers. However, rather than approach each work in a vacuum, they are instead organized thematically according to their engagement with one of three concepts that have guided the evolution of ‘The American Dream’ over the course of American history: Equality, Prosperity, and Freedom. These concepts have themselves been reinterpreted and reimagined as ‘the American Dream’ has been progressively adapted by and for new generations of Americans. It is this process of evolution and adaptation that is the primary focus of the course. As this is a year-long course that is divided in turn into three trimesters, each trimester will be dedicated to one guiding concept (for example, this Fall the focus will be on Prosperity). In this way students will have a more critical, and more profound, understanding of the American cultural landscape by the end of the academic year. This course is designed for students with an advanced or proficiency level of English. The materials considered are chosen both for their cultural value as well as for their utility as a language-teaching resource. By reflecting upon and reacting to these works via class discussions, class blogs, oral presentations, and written assignments, students will develop their English communication skills in a variety of areas, while engaging with content that is provocative, illuminating, and a rich addition to their broader knowledge of American life.

Course  taught and text written  by Andrew Bennet.