[Inspired by my current book project and much else in contemporary American culture and society, this week’s series has focused on hope in America. This crowd-sourced post is drawn from the responses and ideas of other American Studiers—please add yours below!]
Following up the Shawshank quotes in Monday’s post, Jeff Renye notes a similar quote in the great recent German film The Lives of Others (2006): “Hope always dies last.” As Jeff argues, the film’s multi-part ending (which I’m not going to spoil here!) might illustrate the darkness in that quote; although it’s possible to argue that it is ultimately more genuinely hopeful instead. In any case, another cultural and national engagement with dark histories and the question of hope to be sure!
Responding to the literary and philosophical connections in Tuesday’s post, Linda Patton Hoffman notes how fully “Transcendental (and Anti-Transcendental) ideas flow throughout American society,” argues for how much “Melville [was] way ahead of his time,” and makes the case that “all should read Walden—slowly and thoughtfully.”
Following up on my Wilmington thoughts in Thursday’s post, Jonathan Goodwin highlights Philip Gerard’s book Cape Fear Rising (1994), a historical novel based on the Wilmington coup and massacre (which neither he nor I have read, so if you have, please share your thoughts in the comments below!).
Steve Railton highlights one of the best hope-related lines in American literature, Ishmael’s description of Queequeg as “hopelessly holding up hope in the midst of despair” in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1851).
Ezekial Healy points instead to a more recent, pop culture engagement with hope, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)—a film that also features as one of its most famous lines, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope!”
Finally, I can’t fail to mention a new blog post by my grad advisor and uber-American Studier Miles Orvell, based on his just-about-to-be-released book on Main Street (and much else American Studies). Check it out!
Week-long special post goes up on Monday,
PS. What do you think? Reactions to any of these thoughts, the week’s posts, or other takes on hope in America?
9/22 Memory Day nominee: James Lawson, the minister, draft resister, and Civil Rights leader whose theories and practice of nonviolence connect traditions of faith and spirituality, social protest and activism, and many other American voices and ideals.