International Studies | Topic: Image of America Abroad
I300 | 25382 | Cullather, N.

(Joint listed with AMST-A300 & HIST-A379)
	People in most countries, a recent global survey reveals,
hold negative, and often strongly negative impressions of the United
States.  Polling also indicates that Americans know it.  Seven out
of ten believe the world’s opinion of their country is “generally
unfavorable.” Commentators, and even the president, have puzzled
over this antipathy and wondered what, if anything, can be done to
reverse it.
	America has always held itself up as a model, a “city on a
hill” offering a vision of liberty and renewal to “old” countries
across every ocean.  The global appeal of American popular culture—
films, music, and consumer goods—fuelled economic growth, and
furnished a kind of “soft power” that aided the U.S. triumph over
its twentieth century enemies.  Just seven years ago at IU, scholars
most wanted to know how it was that American values had so
thoroughly conquered the world.  Our sudden awareness of the world’s
rejection thus raises important questions.  This class will group
them into three categories:
	Firstly, what does the United States actually represent in
the world?  Federal agencies go to considerable effort to link the
image of the United States to Enlightenment values—such as political
liberty, tolerance, and free trade—and those values to
manifestations of strength, such as American military, economic, and
technological prowess.  But how do others read these connections?
This course will study ways in which the image of the United States
is associated with concepts that shaped the modern international
system: nationalism, imperialism, technology, trade, mass media,
race, modernization, and globalization.
	Secondly, how, and why, has the image of the United States
changed?  Reformers, nationalists, opponents of communism and
fascism, and hipsters have at various times looked to the United
States as a champion of their own aspirations, while at others the
United States arouses fear or contempt. We will examine the patterns
of anti- and philo-Americanism and ask whether the United States
wins followers when it gets its message right, or if instead distant
audiences choose the image they expect America to live up to.
	Thirdly, why do we care so much?  Perhaps the surest
indicator of American uniqueness is the very existence of polls (and
college classes) tracking the United States’s standing in world
opinion. Are other countries so keen to know how they look to
others, so anxious to be loved?  Whether penned by Alexis de
Tocqueville, Antonin Dvoøák, or Paul Greengrass, Americans have
tended to regard the renderings of outsiders as the most authentic
depictions of their true selves. We will try to discover what lies
behind this national epidemic of self-consciousness.