What it means to be an American

Posted on October 15, 2012 by

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This year I am in a class called US history research seminar (USHRS). To start off the year we had to research about “What it means to be an American?” and we had three main questions that we had to answer through out a 7-10 minute presentation. The three questions we had to answer were: 1) What defines an American as an American in 2012? 2)What are the characteristics of an American and how were those fostered/ developed? And 3) How do contemporary and historical events and trends help define the identity of Americans?

My group instantly thought that we would interview kids and slowly move up through age and see how the answer change throughout ages. We thought we would interview kids from 4th grade all the way through adults. But as we went on with our research we thought it would be a cool idea to focus strictly on kids and what influences their answers.

After some research we came to the conclusion that media is what influences Americas the most. We think that the most influential aspect to a kids life is the media like cartoons, comics, and even movies. So I found an article that discussed the importance of comics in American culture (weblink below). The article discusses how comics such as Captain America and Superman can influence an American with the way they perceive themselves. But, after our interviews with the kids in 4th grade we found out that comics and movies aren’t as big of an influence as the News.

We interviewed an entire class and one of the questions that we asked was, “What do you think influences your answer on what it means to be an American?” Most of the kids that we interviewed said that the News had a big influence on their life. And we think that the news can sometimes give a false image of America and the way Americans think. We thought that it is one-sided and only brings up what is of interest rather than the good or bad things Americans do. Overall, we concluded that media is the biggest influence on kids’ response to what it means to be an American. Our final answer to what it means to be an American was that an American is accepting of all religions, races, and beliefs and they believe in equality of people in America.

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Works Cited:

Hruška , Tomáš. Comics and their Role in American Popular Culture. Diss. Bachelor            Paper, 2007. privately published, 2007. Web. <http://dspace.upce.cz/bitstream/10195/25737/1/HruskaT_Comics and their_SB_2007.pdf>.

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