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Marks of Distinction

American Exceptionalism Revisited

A part of the series The Dolphin (32) and the subject areas and


Edited by

With contributions by
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339 pages
Paperback
ISBN 87 7288 383 9

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About the book

Since colonial times, Americans have viewed themselves as distinct from the inhabitants of other lands. Today, many still do: relishing a sense of their uniqueness more than ever. In an era of globalization and postmodernity, meanwhile, scholarly discussion of American Exceptionalism among historians, sociologists, political scientists and literary and cultural critics has continued to pursue new directions.

This issue of The Dolphin assesses the state of Exceptionalist debate at the close of what Henry Luce dubbed 'the American Century'.

Some of the essays revisit well-established expressions of Exceptionalism in American cultural history, while others draw on recent work in newer academic fields, including feminist and African-American studies, to develop or revise Exceptionalist discourses. Still others examine the concept in little-studied contexts, connecting it with such phenomena as judicial activism, regionalism and the Information Age.

Embracing critical and sympathetic viewpoints alike, Marks of Distinction combines new scholarship from both sides of the Atlantic for an up-to-date survey of Exceptionalism, one of the most long-standing concerns of American Studies, from its origins to the present.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements

Departures:
Dale Carter: Introduction: The Death and Life of an Exceptional Concept
Joyce Appleby: Recovering America's Historic Diversity: Beyond Exceptionalism

Cultures:
Thomas B. Byers: A City Upon a Hill: American Literature and the Ideology of Exceptionalism
James Mendelsohn: Writing, Criticism and the Imagination of Nation: American Exceptionalism and the Evolution of American Studies

Technologies:
David E. Nye: Technology and Cultural Difference
Inger Hunnerup Dalsgaard: No Special Relation: British Perceptions of Ante-Bellum America's Growing Pains
Eric Guthey: Newt's Clean Slate, or American Exceptionalism in the Information Age

Institutions:
Peter Bardaglio: 'A Divided Empire': African Americans, the South, and the Narrative of American Exceptionalism
John Halsey and W. Bruce Leslie: A College Upon a Hill: Exceptionalism and American Higher Education

Laws:
Helle Porsdam: 'They Came to Lawyers, You Know, What Can You Do?' American Exceptionalism and Judicial Activism
Jody W. Pennington: 'Against Any Winds that Blow': American Exceptionalism, Multiculturalism, and Judicial Review

Returns:
Michael Kammen: The Problem of American Exceptionalism: A Reconsideration

Notes on Contributors