Civic Myths: A Law-and-Literature Approach to Citizenship / Edition 1by Brook Thomas
Pub. Date: 10/01/2007
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
As questions of citizenship generate new debates for this generation of Americans, Brook Thomas argues for revitalizing the role of literature in civic education. Thomas defines civic myths as compelling stories about national origin, membership, and values that are generated by conflicts within the concept of citizenship itself. Selected works of literature, he claims, work on these myths by challenging their terms at the same time that they work with them by relying on the power of narrative to produce compelling new stories.
Civic Myths consists of four case studies: Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and "the good citizen"; Edward Everett Hale's "The Man without a Country" and "the patriotic citizen"; Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and "the independent citizen"; and Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men and "the immigrant citizen." Thomas also provides analysis of the civic mythology surrounding Abraham Lincoln and the case of Ex parte Milligan. Engaging current debates about civil society, civil liberties, civil rights, and immigration, Thomas draws on the complexities of law and literature to probe the complexities of U.S. citizenship.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction: Working on/with Civic Myths
Chapter 2. The Scarlet Letter: The Good Citizen, Transgression, and Civil Society
Chapter 3. "The Man without a Country": The Patriotic Citizen, Lincoln, and Civil Liberties
Chapter 4. Ex parte Milligan: Civil Liberties v. Civil Rights
Chapter 5. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The Independent Citizen, Mugwumpery, and Civil Rights
Chapter 6. China Men: The Immigrant Citizen, Wong Kim Ark, and Civil Talk
Chapter 7. Conclusion: Keeping Discussions of U.S. Citizenship Open
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