“Apocalypse and Anniversary” trains its focus on the environments surrounding the planning of the American Bicentennial, initiated in 1966 and cumulating in the July 4, 1976 celebrations. Domestic conflict, fuelled by the war in Vietnam, Watergate, social revolution, sexual revolution, generational revolution, systemic estrangement, and a collapse in national self-belief, combined to such an extent during the period 1966-76 period that the aims and goals of the celebrations as expressed by politicians, policymakers, and ordinary people were profoundly changed. Initial consensus around a forward-looking celebration of American progress broke along with an American self belief based in the modern era, to be replaced with backward-looking scrambles and constructions for unity in a less-troubled past. This search focused on a common story as a unifying force in American history. Researching and interrogating government documents, news-media, magazines, and popular culture, this essay scrutinizes the role of the bicentennial celebrations in fashioning a new heritage consensus and reworking Americans’ perceptions of their past in response to the apocalyptic era preceding the festivities. Apocalypse in this essay is not used in a final sense, but in terms of the passing followed by the propagation of different national self conceptions. A reexamination of the effects of the1976 U.S. Bicentennial is timely, as the debate on how to plan and celebrate the nation’s 250th anniversary begins.
Terminus: End in Literature, Media and Culture, 2013, p. 81-107
Amerikas 200 års dag; bicentennial celebrations; national self conceptions; America 1966-76; Faculty of Humanities
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The End: Terminus in Literature, Media and Culture, 2013