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From the Age of Discovery to the modern era, Europeans have been preoccupied with America. Drawing from the
colorful and insightful commentaries of 5 centuries of European writers - whose views range from utopian hope
to bewilderment to condemnation - Professor Evans explains the reasons for Europe's fascination with the New
World. He also provides a detailed exploration of European reactions to American practices regarding privacy,
authority, openness, and relationships.
Extract from book:
... The twentieth-century equivalent of this view (i.e. 'They see things not as they are, but as they would like
to see them to be..') is the popular European image of the United States as a make-believe culture whose spiritual
centers are Madison Avenue and Hollywood, and whose high priests are admen and moviemakers. If we are to believe
many recent commentators, the fabrication of popular illusions has become the major industry of contemporary America.
Political candidates, to take the most prominent example, are frequently portrayed as mere actors, obediently
reciting the lines that have been written for them by their speech writers and expounding the policies which
their managers have determined will have the broadest appeal to the electorate. Religious observances too, it is often
objected, have been reduced by American evangelists to vulgar exercises in showmanship. ....Even the educational process
has been suspected of harboring an unhealthy concern for appearances. To a cynical European visitor it might well appear
that the grading system (eliminating Ds and Fs) initiated a few years ago at several American universities is a
mechanism specifically designed to conceal any evidence of intellectual inadequacy on the part of their students.
Defined as 'a record of achievement', the academic transcript in such institutions has no place for non-achievement.
Failure quite literally does not exist; like Augustine's definition of evil, it is a privation, an absence which has
no objective reality. For in many cases, the lowest grade that can be recorded indicates 'satisfactory work', and
anything less than satisafctory is consigned to academic oblivion. American students are able to do well, better, or best, but
they can not do badly - or if they do, no one apart from themselves and their professors can know about it.
So far as the public record is concerned, everyone succeeds.
About the author:
Born in Cardiff, Great Britain, in 1935, Professor Evans emigrated to the United States in 1963 after earning
his B.A., M.A., and D.Phil. degrees at Oxford University. His first post in this country was as an Assistant
Professor of English in the Stanford English Department, and he has been on the faculty here ever since. From
1977-81, he served as Associate Dean of Humanities and Sciences, from 1981-86 as the Director of Undergraduate
Studies for the English Department, and from 1988-91 as Chairman of the English Department.
Professor Evans's scholarly specialty is the literature of the Renaissance in general and the poetry of John
Milton in particular. His publications in this area include: Paradise Lost and the Genesis Tradition
(Oxford, 1968); Paradise Lost IX-X (Cambridge, 1973); The Road from Horton: Looking Backward in "Lycidas"
(Victoria, 1983); Milton's Imperial Epic (Cornell, 1996); and The Miltonic Moment (Kentucky, 1998). He
regularly reviews new books on Milton for The Review of English Studies and several other Journals.
Professor Evans also has an active interest in travel literature, an interest which he tapped in order to
write America: The View from Europe (Stanford, 1976). In addition to his courses on Milton and Renaissance
literature, Professor Evans teaches regularly in the Introduction to the Humanities and Overseas Studies
programs. In 1990, he was selected for the Richard W. Lyman award for faculty volunteer service to the
Stanford Alumni Association and Stanford University. In 1985, he received the Dean's Award for Distinguished
Teaching, and in 1988, the Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was recently selected by the Milton
Society of America as Honored Scholar for 2004.
AMERICA - THE VIEW FROM EUROPE by John Martin Evans (The portable Stanford series)
Unknown Binding 140 pages (1976)
Publisher: San Francisco Book Co
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