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Examining the American Dream---Asian American Initiatives
|Abstract:||自從James Truslow Adams 1931 年出版《美國史詩》（The Epic of America）在書 中提出「美國夢」一詞，這個自美國殖民時期起便存在於移民腦海中、既清晰又模 糊的意識終於有了明確的身份，具體表達出所有白手起家、在美國大陸打造錦繡前 程的新移民的願望。但是Adams 檢討「美國夢」的當下，也就是這起初充滿理想 主義的願望開始變質的時候：原本相信個人可以不計出身，跨越種族、經濟、性別、 宗教的藩籬，靠努力奮鬥而出人頭地，然而偏重以物質所得與功名成就來論斷結 果，卻暴露出「美國夢」裡精神層面的貧乏與現實競爭的殘酷。 相對於歐洲移民，亞裔美國人雖是晚來後到，但其奮鬥史儼然就是「仿製美國 夢」的血淚史，盼望可以憑藉努力、成為道地的「美國人」、擁有「美國夢」裡所 有的可能。然而，由於經濟的動盪或政治的操弄，成功的亞裔美國人變為模範弱勢 族裔，失敗的人則淪為永難翻身的黃禍；直到今天，兩種迷思都仍然把亞裔美國人 套牢在刻板形象的挾制中。 綜觀亞裔美國文學，從傳統時期到當代時期，風格從現代轉成後現代，其內容 也見證了美國夢的追尋、幻滅、與轉變。傳統的亞美文學偏重國家屬性的建構、再 現連字號屬性的困境，然而鑑於傳統視角的褊挾，當代的亞美文學漸漸展現「以世 界為家」的襟懷，探索流動屬性、全球屬性的「超國/跨國」可能。因為在亞美作品 中，與「在家」相反的情景常是處於「戰時」狀態，而亞美作家對戰爭的檢討又往 往呼應「美國夢」的演進，本計畫將以「戰爭」為軸線，探究作品中「美國夢」演 變的過程；藉「亞美觀點」，檢視「美國夢」在歷經「空想」及「全球惡夢」的批 判後，是否可以進化成具人性關懷、仍舊代表美國理想的精神指標。|
The term 「American Dream」was coined by James Truslow Adams in his book The Epic of America written in 1931. Until then the ideal embraced by all new immigrants hoping to create a beautiful future on America had been concrete but vague; now it was given a specific appellation. However, even as the new term appeared, the idealism behind it was beginning to degrade. Originally, it defined a wish to transcend racial, economic, gender and religious boundaries to realize life to the fullest in every sense. Later on, because of an overemphasis on achieving material comfort and fame, the 「American dream」became a pipe dream revealing spiritual poverty and the cruelest social competition. Compared with settlers from Europe, Asian immigrants to America were late comers by hundreds of years. Nevertheless, their history in America converged in mimicry of the American dream. As others before them, the Asian Americans believed that they could be accepted as 「authentic」Americans, realizing all the promises in the dream. In fact, however, they encountered realities shaped by economic uncertainty and political turmoil. Successful Asian Americans came to be viewed as the model minority, while the failures were associated with the Yellow Peril. To this day, both myths confine Asian Americans within a straightjacket of manipulated stereotypes. Reviewing Asian American literature from its traditional to the contemporary scene, from modern to postmodern style, one also witnesses the evolution of the American dream from pursuit to disillusionment and transformation. The traditional Asian American texts typically record efforts made and difficulties encountered or overcome in the construction of national identity. They are characterized by a hyphenated subjectivity. Seeing the traditional approach in a quandary, the contemporary texts begin to entertain a view of being 「at home in the world」and to explore the 「anational」or transnational possibilities of mobile or global subjectivity. In many of these texts, the opposite of being at home is, unfortunately, the theme of 「war」in various senses, literal and metaphorical. In this research, that theme will be scrutinized for what it tells us about the continuing evolution of the American dream. Applying an Asian American perspective, we will inspect whether the American dream, under attack as an empty pipe dream and a global nightmare, can survive as an American ideal consistent with progressive humanism.
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