Of Thee I Sing: The Contested History of American Patriotism

Wednesday May 26

5:30 PM  –  6:30 PM

Ben Railton, Fitchburg State University

When we talk about patriotism in America, we tend to mean one form: the version captured in shared celebrations like the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. But as Ben Railton argues, that celebratory patriotism is just one of four distinct forms: celebratory, the communal expression of an idealized America; mythic, the creation of national myths that exclude certain communities; active, acts of service and sacrifice for the nation; and critical, arguments for how the nation has fallen short of its ideals that seek to move us toward that more perfect union. In Of Thee I Sing, Railton defines those four forms of American patriotism, using the four verses of “America the Beautiful” as examples of each type, and traces them across our histories.

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