The Americans…

What do all these texts have in common, aside from the obvious?

  • American Psycho (1991)
  • American History X (1998)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • American Pie (1999)
  • American Idiot (2004)
  • American Horror Story (2011)
  • American Sniper (2014)

This specification of the nationality, or national-ness, of all these nouns is not replicated by/in British titles, as far as I can gather (although I am ready to be corrected). What are the possible explanations for this proliferation, which, I might add (rather needlessly, as you will have already begun immediately to think of other examples) is indicative rather than exhaustive…?

Questions to consider:

  • Is such titling about audience? It will not be ‘relevant’ unless specified from the outset, perhaps?
  • Is it a reference to the infamous American Dream, or revealing in some way that all these texts are rewriting this ‘dream’, often as nightmare?
  • Is it a symptom of the relative ‘newness’ of American-ness? That this nationality requires constant bolstering and support, otherwise the narrative wobbles, or is it a sense of wobble, or threat, that in fact produces this need for national overstatement?

About ejpollard

I was awarded my PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University, UK in December 2013. My thesis explored the notions of origin and ellipsis in the writing of contemporary British novelist Hilary Mantel. I want this blog to express the ideas I have in and around my academic writing. View all posts by ejpollard

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