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American Exceptionalism

Deborah L. Madsen

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American Exceptionalism provides an accessible yet comprehensive historical account of one of the most important concepts underlying modern theories of American cultural identity. Deborah Madsen charts the contribution of exceptionalism to the evolution of the United States as an ideological and geographical entity from 1620 to the present day. She explains how this sense of spiritual and political destiny has shaped American culture and how it has promoted exciting counter arguments from Native American and Chicano perspectives and in the contemporary writings of authors such as Thomas Pynchon and Toni Morrison.


1. Origins: Exceptionalism and American Cultural Identity
2. Dispossession: Native American Responses to the Ideology of Exceptionalism
3. Exceptionalism in the Nineteenth Century
4. Annexation: Chicano Responses to the Ideology of Exceptionalism
5. Westerns and Westward Expansion
6. Contemporary Interpretations of Exceptionalism
Appendix: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan

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