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Title: On the road to nowhere : the emergent violence of the American Adam ideal in mid-twentieth century
Author: Mitchell, J. S.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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The central concern of this thesis is to expose the underlying violence of the American Adam ideal, which emerged in mid-twentieth century America in response to a perceived crisis in masculinity. Chapter One scrutinises this ideal and provides a brief historical background to it. Further, it examines the perceived decline in mid-twentieth century masculinity and demonstrates how the Adamic ideal became advocated as a remedy to this feeling of decline. Chapter Two discusses the initial rebellion by young males, depicted in Red River (1948), The Wild One (1953), and Rebel Without a Cause (1955) to show how they became caught in a conflict between self-expression and juvenile delinquency. It also demonstrates how Norman Mailer in his essay "The White Negro" (1957) offers his hipster as a male paradigm, providing a fledgling example of the Adamic personality. Chapter Three examines how On the Road (1957) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) locate the hipster personality in Neal Cassady, and how they romanticise the American Adam as an ideal of masculine action. Chapter Four analyses how the Adamic ideal was a push factor for many young males who perceived Vietnam as a possible arena for the demonstration and vindication of their essentialised masculinity. Moreover, it demonstrates how Vietnam ultimately exposes the immaturity of subscribing to this ideal, and it highlights the discrepancy between romanticised heroics, and the realities of war. Chapter Five concludes the thesis by re-emphasising the inherent violence of the Adamic ideal discussed throughout. It anchors this analysis by looking at such diverse examples as the bombing campaign of Theodore Kaczynski (Unabomber); the 1959 murders of the Clutter family recorded in Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966); Charles Manson and his violent cult; the anti-social antics of the Hell's Angels; and the extremism of Paramilitary groups.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available