Critical Insights: The American Dream

Critical Insights: The American Dream

Edited and Introduction by Keith Newlin

Salem Press, 2013.

ISBN: 978-1-4298-3837-5

Deconstruction of the promise of prosperity and success—and often subsequent disillusionment—associated with the American Dream and Experience
"The American Dream" is a phrase that has become an essential component of the American experience, a phrase that, once entered into the national lexicon, has come to define our nation’s identity, underlying nearly every aspect of our lives. And since the birth of the founding document of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, the idea of "the American Dream" has become a pervasive and frequently deconstructed theme within the canon of American literature.

Edited by Keith Newlin, Professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Critical Insights: The American Dream offers thirteen original essays exploring the contexts and expressions of the dream as it is reflected in our imaginative literature. For readers who are studying it for the first time, four essays survey the critical conversation regarding the theme, explore its cultural and historical contexts, and offer close and comparative readings of key texts in the genre. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the theme can then move on to other essays that explore it in depth through a variety of critical approaches. Works discussed include The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Death of a Salesman, The Great Gatsby, Bernard Malamud’s The Assistant, Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gomez, and Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, as well as the works of Willa Cather, Cormac McCarthy, Theodore Dreiser, and Michael Gold, among others. Among the contributors are Steven Frye, James R. Giles, James Nagel, and Lee Schweninger.

Rounding out the volume are a list of literary works not mentioned in the book that concern the theme as well as a bibliography of critical sources for readers seeking to study this timeless theme in greater depth.

Each essay is 2,500 to 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

About This Volume
Critical Context: Original Introductory Essays
Critical Readings: Original In-Depth Essays
Further Readings
Detailed Bibliography
Detailed Bio of the Editor
General Subject Index