"The Ugly American" and the Legacy of Exceptionalism in American Politics and Literature

By Robert C. Hauhart and Jeff Birkenstein.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: January 26, 2015 $US5.00

American exceptionalism is the belief, held by many in the United States, that the country possesses a unique destiny arising from the circumstances that led to its founding. While secular in nature, the concept implicitly accepts that the national mission is imbued with a special grace that ensures the United States will be successful as an otherwise indifferent God looks on protectively. The concept, buttressed by the United States’ fortunate combination of abundant natural resources, isolation from old world troubles, and sheer good fortune has often gone unquestioned. Its assumptions, when relied on for inspiration and guidance, have led to unchecked hubris and – in the case of Vietnam – to disastrous failure. Still, American exceptionalism – as a form of belief immune to empirical invalidation – continues to exert vibrant influence on American culture and foster an arrogance that routinely threatens to undermine the United States in crucial relations both home and abroad.

Keywords: Cultural Studies, Critical Discourse, Interdisciplinarity, Vietnam, American Exceptionalism

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3-4, January 2015, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: January 26, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 467.452KB)).

Robert C. Hauhart

Professor, Department of Society and Social Justice, Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington, USA

Dr. Jeff Birkenstein

Associate Professor, Department of English, Saint Martin's University, Lacey, Washington, USA