Rags to Riches: The American Dream

Catalogue des cours de Institut Mines-Télécom Business School






1ère Année Management,Bachelor 1ère année,1ère Année Télécom





Crédits ECTS


Heures programmées


Charge de travail




  • Langues et Sciences Humaines

Equipe pédagogique


This course outlines the social, political and cultural issues connected with the American Dream from its origin to the present day. After a brief reminder of the roots of the American heritage starting with the Founding Fathers and the main tenets of the American Constitution, the course will focus on the alleged collapse of the American Dream in 1929, and examine the different issues at stake through the study of documents dating from the period (films, fiction and historical texts). We will then give an overview of events and developments (including but not limited to: the from-rags-to riches story, the Indian question, issues about racism, the Hollywood star system) that still have a significant impact on present-day America. The different questions will be analyzed through a choice of diachronic dossiers comparing videos, texts and iconographic documents.

Acquis d'apprentissage

Students are expected to analyze documents in a critical manner and to be able to evaluate and compare different sources. This will add to their knowledge of cultural and historical factors, but also guide them towards logical thinking and help them acquire an effective technique for writing essays as well as improve their oral presentations.


To present a thorough picture of today’s America through an analysis of the past, we will use a wide range of tools; videos, iconographic documents and texts from a variety of sources (journalistic, literary and historical). The students can base their oral presentation on one of the different topics analyzed in class or take one of their own choosing related to the American Dream.

Attentes du cours

Students are expected to prepare the different dossiers and be ready to answer questions in class. Their ability to back up their own personal viewpoints with a cogent argument will be evaluated both orally and in writing. There will be a minimum of four (4) written activities and one oral presentation.


• 50% Continuous assessment (four (4) written activities and one oral report; participation in discussions will also be evaluated).
• 50% Final examination
Validating the Tandem course will add 2 bonus points in the continuous assessment grade of the corresponding language course.
Chaque absence injustifiée entrainera 1 point en moins sur votre note de CC.


Programme grande école,Programme Ingénieur,Programme Bachelor


In addition to the brochure and the documents handed out in class:
Expansion of the Anglo-American World (1688-1900), col. Paris: Ellipses, 1995.
Boorstin Daniel. J, The Americans, New York: Random House Inc. 1958.
Fitzgerald Francis Scott, The Great Gatsby (1926), New York: Penguin Books, 1950.
Videos : excerpts from The Gold Diggers (Busby Berkeley, 1933), Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford, 1964), Mini Bio on Elvis Presley’s Life and Career, Elmer Gantry (Richard Brooks, 1961), Walk the Line (James Mangold, 2005)
Reference Books
Larreya P., Rivière C., Grammaire explicative de l’anglais, Paris : Pearson, 2014.
Fontane G., Fromonot J., Leguy I., Anglais Vocabulaire, Paris : Le Robert et Nathan, 1999.
Jean-Max Thomson, Le Vocabulaire anglais, Economie, Politique, Société, Paris, Colin, nouvelle édition, 2004.
Judith Andreyev, Journal’ease en deux tomes, Paris, édition Bréal, 1999.
Davoust A., Guide de la compréhension de l’anglais écrit, Paris : Ophrys, 1981.
Hornby, A. S. Ed. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, Oxford: OUP, 2002.
Free online Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus

Plan du cours

1st Lesson: Historical Background: the American Dream in question, the Great Gatsby Curve

2nd Lesson: The Jazz Age and Pre-Code Movies

3rd Lesson: Commercialization of the American West

4rth Lesson: Gangsters and detectives

5th Lesson: American Patriotism

6th Lesson: American Conservatism

7th Lesson: Indians and Other Minority Groups

8th Lesson: Racism in America

9th Lesson Gender in American

10th Lesson: The American Star System

11th Lesson: The Dangers of Conformity

12th Test

Fiche mise à jour le 08/07/2020