Sunday, April 3, 2011

Donald Pease, The New American Exceptionalism

The New American Exceptionalism
Donald E. Pease
Table of contents
-Video (Nov. 2009): Don Pease on the recent rise of "birthers" and the tea-party movement.
-Radio Interview with Open Source's Christopher Lydon
-The Korea Times
-The Statesman
-Pease talks about U.S. identity and the construction of state fantasies on the University
of Minnesota Press blog

Exposes the fantasies that shaped U.S. identity between the end of the cold war and the global war on terror
For a half century following the end of World War II, the seemingly permanent cold war provided the United States with an organizing logic that governed nearly every aspect of American society and culture, giving rise to an unwavering belief in the nation’s exceptionalism in global affairs and world history. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this cold war paradigm was replaced by a series of new ideological narratives that ultimately resulted in the establishment of another potentially endless war: the global war on terror.
In The New American Exceptionalism, pioneering scholar Donald E. Pease traces the evolution of these state fantasies and shows how they have shaped U.S. national identity since the end of the cold war, uncovering the ideological and cultural work required to convince Americans to surrender their civil liberties in exchange for the illusion of security. His argument follows the chronology of the transitions between paradigms from the inauguration of the New World Order under George H. W. Bush to the homeland security state that George W. Bush’s administration installed in the wake of 9/11. Providing clear and convincing arguments about how the concept of American exceptionalism was reformulated and redeployed in this era, Pease examines a wide range of cultural works and political spectacles, including the exorcism of the Vietnam syndrome through victory in the Persian Gulf War and the creation of Islamic extremism as an official state enemy.
At the same time, Pease notes that state fantasies cannot altogether conceal the inconsistencies they mask, showing how such events as the revelations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and the exposure of government incompetence after Hurricane Katrina opened fissures in the myth of exceptionalism, allowing Barack Obama to challenge the homeland security paradigm with an alternative state fantasy that privileges fairness, inclusion, and justice.
"At last, a genealogy of the paranoid style of U.S. nationalism that has some real psychological and historical depth. With characteristic brilliance, Donald E. Pease uncovers the dark side of the nation’s soul from Hiroshima to Abu Ghraib—via Vietnam, Waco, and Oklahoma City. The New American Exceptionalism sparkles with original insights."
—Nancy Fraser, The New School for Social Research
"Its scope, theoretical adventurousness and lucidity, radical commitment to ethical acts, and seriousness make The New American Exceptionalism an unusual and stunning work of American cultural and political theory. This is a major book by a major critic on the United States’ state of exception and state fantasies; Donald E. Pease’s text explains how American exceptionalism has shaped and directed the U.S. citizens’ desire for a fully realized national culture. It is a thrilling guide to American Studies and dialectical psychoanalysis from one of the most incisive thinkers of his generation.”
—José David Saldívar
, University of California, Berkeley
"A passionately argued analysis of how successive governments have constructed specific images to forge the ideas of a unified national culture—despite the fact that American society has gradually fragmented over the last three decades."
—Journal of American Culture
"All in all, the book is a brilliant rhetorical performance."
"This “exceptional” work of great scope and brilliant insight marries cultural history with political theory. It is relevant, thought provoking, and even ground-breaking."
—Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer
, Travel-Watch
Donald E. Pease is Avalon Foundation Professor of the Humanities at Dartmouth College and director of the Futures of American Studies Institute. He is the author of Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context and the editor of several volumes including, with Amy Kaplan, Cultures of United States Imperialism.
256 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 2009
Critical American Studies Series
Introduction: The United States of Fantasy
1. Staging the New World Order: Hiroshima, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Persian Gulf War
2. America of the Two Covenants: The Waco Siege and the Oklahoma City Bombing
3. A National Rite of Passage: The Return of Alexis de Tocqueville
4. Patriot Acts: The Southernification of America
5. From Virgin Land to Ground Zero: Mythological Foundations of the Homeland Security State
6. Antigone’s Kin: From Abu Ghraib to Barack Obama

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