The American dream has meant a variety of things to the nation as a whole and to its individual citizens, but it is most often associated with a faith-like allegiance to values such as liberty, wealth, education, family, and even fame.
In Littler’s class, students dissect the nuances of this foundational concept, considering the often problematic relationship it produces between self and community. Books like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers, and Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust—coupled with pop music from artists like Toby Keith, Gloria Estefan, and Jay Z—illustrate how culture acts as a way people see the world around them.
What do we fear and value? What do we aspire to achieve? What is the political, social, and historical context in which we attempt to make our dreams reality?
“I’m trying to get them to see that these ideas and novels aren’t dead words on a page,” says Littler, “but living and breathing things that connect to their lives in a temporary way.”