Wednesday, August 17, 2011

American Literature Ideas to Ponder

Embarking on a new course can be daunting for some because often, we don't know what philosophical questions surround around our meanings. In other words, it's hard to decide what's central to our new contexts. Today (8/17), you were given an American Literature list of ideas to ponder, central questions about what matters in our makeup of American ideals. I want you on this post to please respond to some of those questions listed on the sheet. I want you to respond to 2 different ideas listed on that sheet and come up with some answers that might add nicely to the academic conversations around tenets of Americanism. So, your post will be comprised of the question and the answer. Please read other people's responses too as that is part of your responsibility. If you double up on a response, I'll know you didn't read the other person's post. I want you to really dig deep on some of these and impress me with your insights. You don't need to write pages and pages, but please be thorough yet concise. These ideas are due Friday August 19th at the beginning of the day!


  1. 1. What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    The "American Dream" is the idea that all people, no matter where they come from, can succeed through hard work. To this day, the "American Dream" does still exist. It can often be seen looking at the immigrants coming to the United States so that they can have a better life and a better job.

    2. What does it mean to be human?

    Well, the dictionary definition of the word "human" is "A member of the genus Homo and especially of the species H. sapiens". However, I think it means a lot more than just being a member of a genus or species. Humans have the ability to express certain emotions such as pity, remorse, happiness, etc. but then, dogs can also express unconditional love so why aren't they human? Maybe, the idea of being human is our thought process. Humans have taken our race far from the Stone age to an age where we have technology like smart phones and ipads by having creative, inquisitive minds. We are the only race on earth that is capable of making such amazing things. So does the idea of being human also mean the same as being a creator?

  2. 1. What does it mean to be an “American”?

    To be an “American”, means to live in a country where you have freedom of religion and speech. In 1863, President Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address. He spoke how our fathers brought forth a new nation, “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” It is because these liberties that people migrated to America in hopes of a new and free life. Even in the world today, America has incredible freedom, the ability raise their families, and protect their cultural values even though they are different from their neighbor. Americans have been willing to fight for this freedom since its independence and continues still today.

    2. How does American literature create conceptions of the American experience and identity? How does it shape your own conceptions of your self and the world around you? How do you interpret the world?

    By reading American literature, you are given a clear view of the struggles different people faced. Some struggles were religious, while others economic. One of my favorite novels is To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee. In her novel, she stresses the ethnic discrimination against different races. Other American literature books can help the reader truly understand the different periods of growth, as well as the strife they encountered. It helps shape my conceptions because it creates a picture in my mind and the characters make it real. I feel the world is changing daily and new American literature will help future Americans discover what living in America today is like.

  3. What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    In America, the "American Dream" is that anyone can become what they dream, and do what they want when they work hard because we are free. I agree with Jackie, however; I think immigrants have a different outlook on the "American Dream". In the book Tortilla Curtain, two immigrants see the “American Dream” as coming over to American and having everything they need and want. Most people don’t realize they need to work for what they want and dream. Many people want to be free and have a great quality of life. I don’t believe the “American Dream” still exists today. There are many dreams, but not one specific “American Dream”.

    What makes life worth living?

    What makes life worth living is different for everyone. As long as one is doing what they enjoy and to their full potential, they are living life to the fullest. Everyday someone finds something beautiful or something that gives them joy. Also may good things come from life. Again those good things are different from person to person depending on what they enjoy and their culture.

  4. Jordan Greenwall-

    1.) What is "American"?

    "American" is a nationality, but I also believe that it is a sense of pride. Many Americans are proud that they live in America nad are not afraid to show their patriotism. The word "American" also resembles freedom, and anyone that is American is free. Along with being a nationality,"American" in also a style. Many people and places have become Americanized, meaning they have adapted the American way of doing things.

    2.) What has been the impact of A.L.? How does its speak to us? How can it impact/shape your life? DOes life imitate art or does art imitate life?

    American literature has impacted American life for years. American Literature helps us to understand the past and prevent history from repeating itslef. I think A.L. speaks to us by pointing out the struggles that we all go through in life, and helping us cope with them. In the same way it speaks to us, it can help shape our lives. When reading about what has happened in America's past, we can see that there is room to grow and second chances. I believe that art imitates life because most art is made out of tragedies or joys.

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  6. 1. What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    I think that the "American Dream" is an opportunity that American citizens have that says you can achieve great things and do what you want if you work for it. I believe that this has always been the "American Dream" since America first became a country. As well as still being true to this day. The main reason that people came here in the first place was in order to have opportunity that they didn't have elsewhere.

    2. What is American?

    Like Jordan I believe American is first a nationality. By living in America you are by default, American. I also think that American is a lifestyle of way of life. Here in America we do things differently then the majority of the world which makes our country unique. We have also impacted other parts of the world in which they change their ways to that of what is done in America. In addition to these things I also feel that being American means that you are at least some what patriotic. In general, American's are very proud to be just that along with not being afraid to show it.

  7. 1) What does it mean to be "American"

    Being American is a sense of pride. You are who you want to be. Being American means you get to sit back and watch football games on Sunday. You are able to do what you want on weekends. Being American means you have freedom

    2) What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    The American dream is different for every individual. Some may want to become President. Some could want to be the hot shot athlete. Just like Kaitlyn said the American dream can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

  8. 1) What does in mean to be an "American"

    Having that "I'm an American" character means that you love the fact that where you live accepts people of all religions and cultures to come and have the freedom that they otherwise wouldn't back home. freedom is one of the first aspects of American culture that foreigners think of when talking about America.

    2) What makes life worth living?

    The things that make life worth living is the part where you know you have a chance to be successful and do the things you enjoy to do. or it could be that the thought of not knowing whats to come in the future makes people want to get up the next day and wants to see the unknown.

  9. 1. Is what mattered to people living in America then, the same as now?

    What mattered to Americans then was chores, food, and work, now Americans are worried about technology. So no, what mattered to Americans then, isn't the same as now. I think most Americans then, would be out and around doing something to benefit them rather than Americans now worrying about weather or not their clothes match or about the opposite sex or playing on their Xboxes.

    2. What makes life worth living?

    Being close to your family, knowing when to have fun and knowing when its to much. I think what makes life worth living is doing something that you love to do and something that a person is going to be successful with. Taking each day by day and not trying to predict what is going to happen in the future.

  10. 1.) Who is the American character?

    The American character is more than one person. It is Guillermo from Mexico, It is Yang from China, and it's even Yodnik from Russia. The American character is people from everywhere in the world. That's how we started as a nation and that's how we'll always be as a nation.

    2.) How do place and time shape literature and our understanding of it?

    Place and time shape literature because when it was written and where it was written are gonna change the topic or story. It helps us understand it better by knowing where it is in the world and when in time. If the literature was written in caveman times then the language would be different, the story itself would be different. Time and place change everything.

  11. Is what mattered to people living in America then, the same as it is now?

    People living in America now, still care about the same things as they did then; now there are different influences changing the way we act but there are some things that will never change. Family, for one, is very important to many people living in America. Having a good relationship with parents and siblings matters a lot and it did just as much back then. Like Nikki said, now we have technology which is a much bigger part of our lives but most things that matter haven’t changed.

    Is our potential limited? What shapes us?

    The way each individual is raised has a large impact on whether or not out potential is limited. Parents raise each child differently and the way they were taught to live life is how they will act in the future. In some cases parents influence kids to be a certain way and to live out their life according to what the parent thinks is right, and by doing that they may be holding their child back. Others will not be inclined to do what anyone else says and they will live up to their full potential and be whoever they want to be.

  12. 1) What is the American dream? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    In today's busy world who has time for dreams anymore? The American Dream is one of the few dreams people actually make time for. It takes the a different meaning for every person. For one man it may be to have more money than his friends, while another may only care about happiness. It is still very much alive in todays world.

    2) What makes life worth living?

    Being able to enjoy the company of friends and family are two main things that make life worth living. Happiness is also a large factor in making life worth living. Living each day to its fullest will make you live as life goes.

  13. 1. what does it mean to be "American"?

    To be american means to be Free. We have all the rights we need and we can be who we want to be. We accept everyone for who they are and live in a save community compared to other nationalities. we care for one another and live life to the fullest.

    2.What makes life worth living?
    What makes life worth living is friends, family, love and money. All of those can make such a great life. Friends make life worth living because they are always there for you to talk to and have a good time with, family is who you belong to and the people you love to death, these both clearly make life worth living for.

  14. What does it mean to be human?

    In my opinion being human means you make mistakes, you feel sadness or happiness, you go the extra mile. Being human also means you have to come to terms with the fact that things are not always going to happen the way you want to, and you can decide how to take life as it comes.

  15. What makes life worth living?

    Life is the greatest gift of all. Not living it is a shame. Those who keep a better attitude and are more motivated have a higher chance of living a more enjoyable and stress free life. Different cultures and ethnicities have other reasons as to why life is worth living, but i believe, life is worth living because in order to find out how beautiful the world really is, you must explore it first.

    What does it mean to be human?

    Being human can not be described in any particular way. A few things that all humans have in common though is that everyone feels emotion, makes bad decisions, and have consequences for their actions. Whether or not you are a happy or sad human, depends on your perspective on life.

  16. 1.What makes life worth living?

    The things that make life worth living are the simple things in life for example friends being there when you in need and being happy with your self mentally, physically and socially. Being happy with those three things keeps life worth living.

    2.What is American?

    America is the patriotic attitude toward your country, believing in our government to get us threw the thick and thin. Its red white and blue that represents us in developing country's, helping everyone that we can to become an example of us.

  17. 1.What is “American?”

    “American” isn't just one thing. Some could consider it a race. Others might say that it's a culture or a living style. I agree with Jordan and Sarah , to me, “American” is something to be proud of. We are a unit filled with many cultures, ideas, freedom, entertainment, and much more. We have a great history filled with ups and downs that have shaped us. No matter what happens, whether it is a tragedy or a war, we as American's always have helped eachother and pick ourselves back up. That is America.

    2.What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    I agree with Kaitlin Habert about the “American Dream.” I believe it used to be that you were a free person and could be whoever you wanted to be. You would follow your dreams and make something of your life. Now, although some people may still have this dream, I don't believe it still exists today. People just want to get rich quick or they inherit their families money so that they don't have to do anything. I believe we have just become lazy and don't try to follow our dreams.

  18. 1. What makes life worth living?

    To me, what makes life worth living can be summed up in one cliche statement: live life to the fullest. It is a statement that can be interpreted many ways. It could be trying to get as high in the business world as you can, trying to have as much fun as possible, or trying to slow down and make moments last.

    2. Is what mattered to people living in America then, the same as it is now?

    I believe that all the smaller, lesser matters that matter to people are different, but the core ideas are still the same, just on a broader scale. Somethings that matter to our generation are different, such as clothes, phones, video games and such. However there are many similarities, just in different form. Technology was just as important, people wanted the best whether it be the new computer, a color TV or a better spinning wheel. Human nature is at the heart of it, so this may be a response to that too, because the things that matter to humans has always been love, and everything involved in it, the desire to have the best available, and unfortunately war. Those main things have mattered throughout history and I believe they will continue to.

  19. Is our potential limited? What shapes us?

    I believe that the only thing that limits a person's potential is the life situation that they were born into. By this I mean that the effort of a person is only limited by something that is not something under your control when you enter this world. It's definitely something that controls you, though. For example, someone might need to go to college to get a job at the highest of their abilities, therefore fully fulfilling their potential, but that may not even be an option for them if they are born into a family situation that can't afford that person to get the necessary education.

    What makes life worth living?

    Life is made worth living by people that can make use of the cards that life dealt them. It doesn't mean that the only people that can have a decent life have to be rich or have a lot of friends. Those things can definitely help, but I'm just saying that anyone can find joy in life. Everyday people find joy in the simplest things. This isn't everybody though. Not everybody is able to look at things in a positive way, and that's what's wrong with people nowadays. Things are taken for granted way too often. TO give life meaning, you just have to have a positive attitude, because things can always be worse. You should be happy with what you have, even if times are tough, and that you aren't in the worse situation possible.

  20. 1.What does it mean to be American?
    I believe being American means to work for what you have and being able to enjoy it. Such as a beautiful house or a new car.I a agree with Drew being an American also means to have the freedom to be anyone you want to be.

    2. Is our potential limited? what shapes us?
    I beleive our potential is limited and controlled by the way we are raised, for example if a child is raised to beleive that he can better his situation by working hard in school then the child will probably work hard in school and take measures to get a good job.

  21. What makes life worth living?

    Happiness. Life is made living by being happy and doing what you want to do. If you are content with yourself and what you do through everyday life then that makes you happy.

    What is American?

    American is being from America. You do not have to be proud of it or follow any traditions. Stereotypes do not have to apply to you. If you are born in America then you are American.

  22. 1. What does it mean to be human?

    Being human is both a physical and mental state. All humans are built the same, basically, and most look like we belong to the same species. However being human also means that people must deal with the same things such as emotions and coping with other people. Our brains and souls make us human, not just another animal. They allow us to develop relationships, invent tools, and excel beyond others to fulfill our maximum potential.

    2. Have people changed much? Have times changed much to what extent are they the same/ different? Do we value different things? How do we relate to an America we have never experienced.

    People have changed a lot with in the last fifty years alone. This is mostly affected by the times. Our abilities to do good, amazing, things have multiplied in recent years. We can clone animals for more food, or products like wool. Genetically engineered plants and animals will survive harder conditions, and be healthier to eat. You can get fruit in the middle of winter, and food shortage isn't a problem in this country. Forty years ago these things couldn't be obtained because we couldn't grow them in winter. Our values have changed as well. In the forties the values were focused on families, and spending time together. Today our values have moved to physical objects, like technology, or cars, or your house. How much a person owns. Our generation finds it hard to relate to an America we weren't alive to see. They have different values and different abilities. But some things have remained the same. We all feel a sense of unity against what we feel is wrong. The bombing of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 had very similar responses as the country came together to beat the "bad guys" to a pulp. In this way our generation is different than our grandparents, and theirs is different than their grandparents.

  23. 1. What makes life worth living?

    What makes it worth is maybe people that make it living, or the things in the past, present that will lead to the future that makes people want to know what will be in stores for them.

    2.What is "American"?

    Like what Jordan said "It's a nationality, but also that it is a sense of pride." Representing the red, white, & blue. Being free to certain thing not all of course cause there are laws and rules.

  24. 1. What is the "American Dream"? Does it still exist today? What is it today?

    I personally think that the American dream is thought to be a way of living life. In which life is thought to be perfect, people always talk about living the American dream and having that perfect life. What really is the perfect life? The thing is it is different for everyone and I think that is also something very important about the American dream is that people can be different and that is okay. People travel form all around the world to start a life in America and live the perfect life or the American dream that everyone talks about. I strongly believe that the American dream still exists today and is still talked about all the time. Everyone wants to have the perfect life and live the American dream. How many people actually get to live it though? When they grow up and have a family is it all they dreamed of. I it the ideal American dream? The American dream today can be classified today as having a spouse, kids, a house, and a job. Most people have this and that is what the American dream is. Even though someone may have all of this but are they happy are they living their American dream?

    2. What makes life worth living?

    There are many things that make life worth living to me. The most important thing though is my family I would not trade them for anything. My family is always there for me and I do not know what I would do without them. I think to myself all the time what would I do without my family what would they do without me and that really puts into perspective how important they are to me. I think that my little brother is probably why my life is worth living he looks up to me as a role model and I need to be there for him. I think about my actions and my life with him in mind and that makes me think that life is really worth living. Another thing that is really worth living for is life it self. Life has so many options or paths that you could go down that gives life surprise. That is worth living all of the unexpected stuff things that just happen out of the random. That makes my life worth living because I want to experience what life has for me. What makes your life worth living and why?

  25. What makes life worth living? In a way everything makes life worth living. All the bad things that happen to you makes everything else feel better. Its worth living to see new life created and to find your own reason for life. For me what makes life worth living is all my friends and family and the scary thought of them crying and being lonely if I die.

    Is our potential limited? I believe that our potential is only limited by our own commitment and desire. We can obtain anything and everything if we desire it and commit to getting it.