American Dream W7

Introduction : Week 7 A film and American Art

1.This week you will be looking at American Art to find an artistic piece that you think intersects with this course. 
We have been discussing what the American dream has been and what it is. I think we have seen that the dream is unique to the dreamer.  It isn’t so much that we each get to realize our dream, we are, instead, powered through our lives by its mere existence.  Thus, we dare to dream in America, though we accept that few get it all.  It may be that our dreams are more difficult to reach than in the past, but the fact is, millions aspire for the chance to come to America and have a chance to chase an individual dream.
You will be looking through the paintings by American artists that are owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC online.
Visual art is a kind of history and a kind of statement, just as are novels. While the American dream is not always the topic of American art, the promise of America and its freedoms and opportunities have certainly become a theme in our art and literature. Your mission is to go “shopping” for American dream art. Select a painting from the collection that you think says “America” to you. Note its creator, its time and place in history, and describe the painting in detail. If you can attach the image to your work, please do. Connect this piece to the works we have read in this course. How does this work of art convey America? You will be posting your work in the discussion board, along with your discussion of the film you saw this week.

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Directions for accessing the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing Collection online.
http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search?&deptids=2&ft=american+wing+paintings&what=Canvas&pg=1

What pops up for you at this point is a series of paintings. At bottom left of the page you can click on the next page of images. At the bottom right of the page click on 90 at a time, so you can scroll through them quickly. You can look at each one more carefully by clicking on the image to enlarge it and also get a brief introduction to the work below the image.
(Just in case this link doesn’t work, go to The Metropolitan Museum of Art home page, and then go to collections. Type in American Wing Paintings in the search window. Then in the menu at left, click on department and click on American Wing Paintings. Click on images on canvas at the top of the menu page as well.)

2. This week you have your choice of films to see and relate to this course. 
You many decide to see Director Ron Howard’s 2005 Depression era film, Cinderella Man, with this course in mind.  What is James Braddock’s American Dream?  How does Braddock’s dream change over time?  What touches you about this film?  Relate the film to our course thus far.

Braddock really did live during the Great Depression of the 1930s and fought for work as well as boxed for a living when he could get a bout.  He later fought in World War II though he was already an older man with three children.  He went on to operate a company on the docks where he used to work and also to work on many construction projects in New York.  He and his wife bought a little house in New Jersey after the Max Baer fight and lived there for the rest of their lives.  When you watch this Hollywood version of his life, remember that he actually lived this adventure.

or 

You may decide you would like to see Director Gabriele Muccino’s The Pursuit of Happyness from 2006 and relate it to this course.  What is Chris’s dream?  How does he make it happen?  What does it take for him to attain it?  Relate this film to our course and its readings.  What most touched you about the film in a personal way?

This movie offers the true story of Christopher Gardiner who struggled to become a stockbroker despite being the homeless father of a toddler in the early 1980s.  His struggle and his pursuit of the American dream is inspirational.  He now has his own firm and is a philanthropic figure.  In 2004 Gardner’s story was included in a Canadian documentary called Come on Down: Searching for the American Dream. 

3. Write your final response paper based on your reading of Gatsby, Black Boy, and/or your viewing of Cinderella Man, or The Pursuit of Happiness. Let’s fact it, neither of the last two novels can be considered a happy ending. Both movies have a sort of happy ending, however, after extreme misery.  

Now that you have been put through the emotional roller coaster of this class, what would you like to write about?  As always, your work should include the texts you will deal with in the introduction, as well as your thesis statement, which will frame your argument.  You must include direct references to the works you quote and you must document them using APA.  
Aim for about two pages or 750 words.

4.  Discussion Board:
Post a discussion of the film that you chose to see and relate it to our course.  What is the message?  What do we learn about the nature of the dream? 
Then post your American Art pick.  What did you select and why? Discuss this work. What does your piece say to us regarding the American Dream? Relate the painting to the course work in some specific way.

Requirements:

Part one:
Discussion Board Assignments:

1. American art: 
Your mission was to go “shopping” for American dream art. You selected a painting from the collection that you think says “America” to you. Note its creator, its time and place in history, and describe the painting in detail in your own words. If you can attach the image to your work, please do. Connect this art piece to the works we have read in this course. How does this work of art convey America?  How does this work of art connect to this course, in your opinion?

 

2.  Movies and the American Dream:
This week you had your choice of a film to watch through the lens of this course.

Cinderella Man:

How does James Braddock’s true story exemplify the American Dream?  Which Dream is Braddock’s? Explain. How much is suffering a part of attaining success?  Is it possible to consider oneself successful if the success has been easily attained?

How does Braddock’s dream change over time?  What does this story say to us about defining success?  

In both films, children have been the catalyst, in part, for the actions of their fathers.  Explain this phenomenon.

or

The Pursuit of Happyness:

Compare Chris Gardner with one of our characters from this class.  How does his story exemplify the American Dream?  How much is suffering a part of attaining success?  Can a person consider him or herself a success if the achievement has been easily won?

Is Gardner’s story the exception to the rule? 

In both films, children are featured.  What does this say about the Dream and those who seek it?

Part two:
Here is your last chance to select the topic of your choice for your last 750 word paper.  What would you like to talk about regarding the American Dream now that we are nearly through the texts and the novels? 

3. Write your final response paper based on your reading of Gatsby, Black Boy, and/or your viewing of Cinderella Man, or The Pursuit of Happiness. Let’s fact it, neither of the last two novels can be considered a happy ending. Both movies have a sort of happy ending, however, after extreme misery.  

Now that you have been put through the emotional roller coaster of this class, what would you like to write about?  As always, your work should include the texts you will deal with in the introduction, as well as your thesis statement, which will frame your argument.  You must include direct references to the works you quote and you must document them using APA.  

Aim for about two pages or 750 words. 

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