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Unformatted text preview: Existential America (I): Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth I. Defining existentialism: a mood, a crisis, an opportunity Two existentialist parables from noirFlitcraft (Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon ) and Bigelow ( D.O.A. ) The opportunity of Flitcraft somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works" and his failure to sieze it Bigelow's death-sentence, and his reactions to it (panicky flight, meditative observation, dogged determination) Existential life-questions: how am I alive rather than dead? How is it that we define the good against the evil, in the absence of easily legible God? How can I seize my freedom when I'm so constrained by history, environment, fate, my own despair, etc.? Locating existentialism: existentialism is a way of thinking that pivots around everlasting categories of being ('the self alone in the world'), but that also had a very particular historical surge between the 40s and the 60s In the '40s and '50s, America's can-do 'victory culture' registers shudders of existential doubt...and sometimes In the '40s and '50s, America's can-do 'victory culture' registers shudders of existential doubt....
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This note was uploaded on 05/29/2008 for the course AMST 10 taught by Professor Saul during the Spring '08 term at University of California, Berkeley.
- Spring '08