Proposal Title

Hansen's Unmasking of American Political Innocence

Presenter Information

Robert WauhkonenFollow
Sarah Calrk

Abstract

Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World, this year’s CLAS read, explores the perils of American political innocence, home and abroad. From America’s racist legacy, to its exploitation of native peoples, to its many acts of imperialism, Americans, she argues, have historically justified the domination of other peoples, not to mention the natural world, out a sense of economic and religious prerogative: that capitalism and Christianity define the trajectory of history. America’s belief in the inevitability and superiority of this trajectory constitutes, she argues, a delusional, destructive, and self-serving political innocence, which she sets out to unmask. Echoing James Baldwin, she argues that this innocence must be replaced by love and compassion: “only when white Americans begin to look upon another people’s destruction as they would their own…will they vanquish a century of their own indifference” . In this session, students from last fall’s English composition classes will present essays they wrote on this theme, and join in a panel discussion on what they see as the high cost of such innocence—an innocence which, at heart, disconnects America from much of the world in its underlying assumptions that “the American way” is best, no matter the consequences—and ways to increase empathy and respect for all peoples.

Start Date

27-3-2019 2:00 PM

End Date

27-3-2019 2:50 PM

Room Number

U-Hall 3-101

Presentation Type

Panel

Disciplines

Rhetoric and Composition

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Mar 27th, 2:00 PM Mar 27th, 2:50 PM

Hansen's Unmasking of American Political Innocence

Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World, this year’s CLAS read, explores the perils of American political innocence, home and abroad. From America’s racist legacy, to its exploitation of native peoples, to its many acts of imperialism, Americans, she argues, have historically justified the domination of other peoples, not to mention the natural world, out a sense of economic and religious prerogative: that capitalism and Christianity define the trajectory of history. America’s belief in the inevitability and superiority of this trajectory constitutes, she argues, a delusional, destructive, and self-serving political innocence, which she sets out to unmask. Echoing James Baldwin, she argues that this innocence must be replaced by love and compassion: “only when white Americans begin to look upon another people’s destruction as they would their own…will they vanquish a century of their own indifference” . In this session, students from last fall’s English composition classes will present essays they wrote on this theme, and join in a panel discussion on what they see as the high cost of such innocence—an innocence which, at heart, disconnects America from much of the world in its underlying assumptions that “the American way” is best, no matter the consequences—and ways to increase empathy and respect for all peoples.