Defining an American: South Florida Authors in the Fusion Chamber

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The melting pot theory first characterized by Crevecoeur and later by Zangwill no longer defines what is an American. The stringent Immigration Act of 1924 points toward the United States government's recognition that, at that time, the metaphor no longer applied. In the same year, Kallen writes about cultural pluralism, and 60s census statistics as well as Glazer and Moynihan's Beyond the Melting Pot further debunk the myth, leading to Alex Haley's metaphor of the tossed salad. However, writers such as Jules Chametzky argue that there never has been a melting pot, nor is there currently a tossed salad. Instead, what an American is has always been in flux. Because texts represent society and culture, and because current immigration patterns label South Florida as the new model for what is an American, naturally, an analysis of literature set in South Florida and written by South Floridians will help evince what it is to be an American today.


Keywords: Melting Pot, South Florida Literature
Stream: Anthropology, Archaeology, Cultural Studies, Humanities
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Defining an American


Dr. Jeffrey Hughes Morgan

Chair, English Department
College of Arts & Sciences, Lynn University

Boynton Beach, Florida, USA

Author of Sarah Orne Jewett's Feminine Pastoral Vision, The Country of the Pointed Firs, as well as editor of a new editon of Jewett's Country, Dr. Jeff Morgan has recently concentrated on Florida Literature. His "Deconstructing Paradise: Elizabeth Stuart Phelps' The Story of Avis" appears in Florida English. His essay, "The Founding Father: Benjamin Franklin & His Autobiography," is collected in the very recent anthology Romaticism and Parenting. Also the author of over a dozen published poems, Morgan edits poetry journals, judges poetry contests, and gives poetry readings when he's not researching or teaching Intro to Lit or American Lit classes at Lynn University, where he chairs the English Department. He lives in Boynton Beach, Florida with his wife, Dana, and their son, Colin.

Ref: I08P0213