What is the American Dream?

During his 2016 campaign, now-President Donald Trump boldly proclaimed, “The American Dream is dead…but if I [am] elected President, I will bring it back, bigger and better than ever!” As we have discussed during the first few weeks of class, the American Dream is a complicated subject – and whether or not it even existed in the first place is certainly up for debate.

Our first readings are designed to give you an idea about the complex relationship between the ideal (or even myth) of the American Dream and poverty. As we have learned in our readings, the poor have always been an integral part of American society, and what to do about poverty in America has long been the work of intellectual and religious leaders, politicians, and advocates. And, as we are learning, the relationship between the ideal of the American Dream and the reality of poverty in America has yet to be reconciled.

Your first assignment is to create an argument about the relevance or importance (or lack thereof) of the American Dream. You are required to quote from or refer to at least two of the readings from class, but you can also use your own experiences and beliefs.

Questions for consideration: these are designed to help you think about your argument, but you are not required to answer all of them (or, even, any of them).
What is the American Dream? (It is HIGHLY recommended that you contrast James Truslow Adams’s definition with our typical definition of the American Dream being hard work and money = success and happiness.) https://up.atavist.com/up#chapter-155117
Was the American Dream ever possible, or has it always been a myth? If it was possible, is it possible now? If not, what factors have changed?
What role does idealism and/or American exceptionalism play in the American Dream? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_exceptionalism
Does the American Dream ignore the fact that huge portions of the American population live in poverty?
Why is the American Dream such a powerful concept in America?

Special Note: You are required to quote directly from at least two of the readings and use those quotations as evidence towards your argument. These quotations must be properly cited in MLA format. Learning to use quotations from texts and MLA are requirements for this course. Please do not use additional sources from outside of the class readings or films.

Paper Requirements
• The minimum word count requirement for this paper is 800 words, or just over three pages. This does not include the paper heading or the Works Cited page. Please put the word count at the end of your paper to make sure that you have reached the required word count. You can go over the required word count, but it will not guarantee you a better grade.
• All papers must be typed and submitted through our Blackboard grade center in .doc or .docx format. No other formats will be accepted.
• All citations, in-text and on your Works Cited page, must be in correct MLA format. Your papers must also be formatted according to current MLA standard. This is available in the Bedford Handbook or online at the Purdue OWL website.
• Papers will be submitted electronically and returned electronically. I will send clear instructions via email on how to submit papers, view grades, and view comments in the newest edition of Microsoft Word.
• Drafts for papers are optional. If you would like me to look at your draft, please schedule an appointment with me during my office hours.
• I reserve the right to penalize late papers. Please try to turn in your work on time so that you will not fall behind and risk failure of the course. If you are having trouble with your paper, please schedule an appointment with me and/or the Writing Center.

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