By Susan Nance
According to Nance, these traditions reveal how a broad spectrum of Americans, including recent immigrants and impersonators, behaved as producers and consumers in a rapidly developing capitalist economy. In admiration of the Arabian Nights, people creatively reenacted Eastern life, but these performances were also demonstrations of Americans' own identities, Nance argues. The story of Aladdin, made suddenly rich by rubbing an old lamp, stood as a particularly apt metaphor for how consumer capitalism might benefit each person. The leisure, abundance, and contentment that many imagined were typical of Eastern life were the same characteristics used to define "the American dream."
The recent success of Disney's Aladdin movies suggests that many Americans still welcome an interpretation of the East as a site of incredible riches, romance, and happy endings. This abundantly illustrated account is the first by a historian to explain why and how so many Americans sought out such cultural engagement with the Eastern world long before geopolitical concerns became paramount.
- Chapel Hill, NC
- United States--Civilization--Arab Influences
- Arabian Nights
- Arab Countries--Foreign Public Opinion, American
- Orientalism--United States--History
- United States--Civilization--1783-1865
- United States--Civilization--20th Century
- Performing Arts--Social Aspects--United States--History
- Popular Culture--United States--History
- Capitalism--Social Aspects--United States--History
- United States--Economic Conditions