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Home arrow Geography arrow The Myths That Made America : An Introduction to American Studies

Study Questions

  • 1. Relate the Promised Land myth to the biblical Exodus narrative. What kind of correspondences did the Pilgrims and Puritans construct?
  • 2. Discuss William Bradford and John Winthrop as religious leaders in the context of Promised Land mythmaking.
  • 3. Compare the myth of the Promised Land to the myth that has been constructed around Jamestown and Pocahontas. Can you establish similarities and differences between them?
  • 4. Discuss the presence/absence of Native Americans with regard to the myth of the Promised Land.
  • 5. In what way did African Americans appropriate the Promised Land myth? Give examples from the text and from other sources.
  • 6. Discuss Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road (1957) as a modern pilgrimage. How does the text make use of the myth of the Promised Land? And how is the myth connected to the genre of the road-narrative/movie in more general terms?
  • 7. Discuss the role of Thanksgiving in the American calendar as a cultural practice of commemoration and the role of Plymouth Rock as a tourist destination.
  • 8. Analyze how selected texts of American popular culture (e.g. lyrics of pop songs such as those mentioned in the text) use the Promised Land rhetoric.
  • 9. Explain the phrase ‘messy beginnings.’ What kind of vision of early American history does it entail?
  • 10. What are (or could be) the transnational implications of the Promised Land myth?
 
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