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Reclaiming a Fallen Empire: Myth and Memory in the Battle over Detroit's Ruins

Author: Kavita Ilona Nayar; Carolyn L Kitch; Laura Levitt
Publisher: Temple University Libraries 2012
Dissertation: M.A. 2012
Edition/Format:   Downloadable archival material : Thesis/dissertation : English
Summary:
M.A.

Temple University--Theses

Detroit's shocking decline has been a topic of national concern for several decades now, but attention paid to the city's problems reached new levels when the American public learned that the U.S. automotive industry was in jeopardy, eventually needing more than $17 billion in loans from the United States government to stay afloat. Once the fourth largest city in the United States, the Motor City ushered in the twenty-first century with half the number of residents it had just fifty years before and new monikers like Murder City that mocked the city's formerly heroic identity. To the nation, Detroit was dying, and its failure to live up to its potential as a thriving metropolis demanded the public's mournful attention. How had a city that was once mighty fallen so far? The purpose of this thesis is to understand what meanings media texts attribute to Detroit, how they negotiate its symbolic value in the American narrative, and what functions they perform in the public sphere by contributing to national discourse in these ways. The nation has been told it should care about the city's recovery, which begs the question: Why? Why does Detroit matter? Drawing primarily from memory studies and integrating urban history, sociology, and ruin studies, this thesis performs a rhetorical analysis of four case studies that negotiate the meaning of Detroit as public discourse. This thesis argues that narratives of Detroit implicitly placate a country in crisis and reinforce the continued relevance of American values--individualism, capitalism, and post-racial multiculturalism--to the new world order. These cultural texts implicitly ask: Are we the superpower we were when Detroit stood at the helm of our empire? If not, who or what can we blame for the overthrow of the nation? In this way, media discourses on Detroit function to negotiate a transitioning national identity and restore social order by resolving the questions that Detroit's demise evokes, determining its impact--symb  Read more...

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Genre/Form: Masters theses
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Kavita Ilona Nayar; Carolyn L Kitch; Laura Levitt
OCLC Number: 864885629
Language Note: English
Notes: Application/PDF
Description: 117 2920503 Bytes
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Abstract:

M.A.

Temple University--Theses

Detroit's shocking decline has been a topic of national concern for several decades now, but attention paid to the city's problems reached new levels when the American public learned that the U.S. automotive industry was in jeopardy, eventually needing more than $17 billion in loans from the United States government to stay afloat. Once the fourth largest city in the United States, the Motor City ushered in the twenty-first century with half the number of residents it had just fifty years before and new monikers like Murder City that mocked the city's formerly heroic identity. To the nation, Detroit was dying, and its failure to live up to its potential as a thriving metropolis demanded the public's mournful attention. How had a city that was once mighty fallen so far? The purpose of this thesis is to understand what meanings media texts attribute to Detroit, how they negotiate its symbolic value in the American narrative, and what functions they perform in the public sphere by contributing to national discourse in these ways. The nation has been told it should care about the city's recovery, which begs the question: Why? Why does Detroit matter? Drawing primarily from memory studies and integrating urban history, sociology, and ruin studies, this thesis performs a rhetorical analysis of four case studies that negotiate the meaning of Detroit as public discourse. This thesis argues that narratives of Detroit implicitly placate a country in crisis and reinforce the continued relevance of American values--individualism, capitalism, and post-racial multiculturalism--to the new world order. These cultural texts implicitly ask: Are we the superpower we were when Detroit stood at the helm of our empire? If not, who or what can we blame for the overthrow of the nation? In this way, media discourses on Detroit function to negotiate a transitioning national identity and restore social order by resolving the questions that Detroit's demise evokes, determining its impact--symb

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