Steve Earle and the Possibilities of Pragmatism

Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900-present), Fall 2005, Volume 4, Issue 2

David Carithers
University of Tennessee at Martin


“Everything Good Is on the Highway:”
The Pragmatist Tradition and Steve Earle

In December of 2003, NPR’s Steve Inskeep commented that “the songwriter Steve Earle is playing a role that brings some people great respect and causes others to look like fools. He's an artist who speaks out about politics” (Earle, “Interview” 2). Since the attacks of 9/11 in New York and Washington D.C., Earle has turned his attention to democracy and patriotism while retaining his interest in the stories of marginal individuals. In this essay, I consider Steve Earle’s art as pragmatic poetry in the Emersonian tradition, the purpose of which is to provoke listeners to action. The link between Emersonian pragmatism and Steve Earle can be found on the highway.

Long before Jack Kerouac affixed the highway in the American imagination as the ultimate experience where movement through the vast land and encounters with its diverse people are tantamount to creation of the new, the open road held a mythical place in the American mind in general and was a particularly powerful metaphor for pragmatism. “Everything good is on the highway,” quipped Emerson in “Experience,” and John Dewey added that one “finds truth in the highway, in the untaught endeavor, the unexpected idea” (Emerson 481; Dewey 75). If the Emersonian self is, as Cornel West maintains, “a rather contingent, arbitrary, and instrumental affair, a mobile, performative, and protean entity perennially in process, always on an adventurous pilgrimage” (26), then the highway, either literally or metaphorically, is its natural home.

One might dismiss the metaphor of the highway as a mindless philosophy valuing movement for movement’s sake only, but the American pragmatists viewed movement and flux as more than just random motion. Activity itself was a method of invention, especially if it involved provocation of the active mind. West writes that “for Emerson, the goal of activity is not simply domination, but also provocation; the telos of movement and flux is not solely mastery but also stimulation” (26). Stimulation of the mind was William James’s goal as well, another American pragmatist who borrowed his meliorative pragmatism from Emerson. As West notes, “James’s pragmatic theory of truth affirms the basic Emersonian notion that powers are to be augmented by means of provocation for the purpose of the moral development of personalities” (65).

It was in John Dewey, though, “the greatest of the American pragmatists” according to West, that American pragmatism reached its full potential, “After him, to be a pragmatist is to be a social critic, literary critic, or a poet – in short, a participant in cultural criticism and cultural creation” (71). Dewey helped us “see the complex and mediated ways in which philosophical problems are linked to societal crises” (West 71). He democratized pragmatism by maintaining that personal experiences are legitimate points of inquiry, and artists such as Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen have certainly used them as such. A close listen to a Steve Earle song such as “Billy Austin” (The Hard Way), in which the audience is asked to take the place of the executioner (“Could you pull that switch yourself, sir?”), at least provides the opportunity for a novel personal experience from which the listener may launch a new mode of inquiry. In “Does Reality Possess Practical Character?” Dewey explains why the practical and personal are valuable modes of inquiry:

If we suppose the traditions of philosophic discussion wiped out and philosophy starting afresh from the most active tendencies of to-day, – those striving in social life, in science, in literature, and art, – one can hardly imagine any philosophic view springing up and gaining credence, which did not give large place, in its scheme of things, to the practical and the personal, and to them without employing disparaging terms, such as phenomenal, merely subjective, and so on. (80)

We might ask what qualifies an artist to be an active participant in cultural criticism. In the interview mentioned above, Steve Inskeep asks Earle, “What makes you qualified to talk politics, the war in Afghanistan, health care, any of the other things you’ve talked about?” Earle quickly replies, “I’m a citizen in a democracy. That makes me qualified and all of us” (“Interview” 2). The focus on democracy in his art has intensified since 9/11. In track eight on the second CD of Just an American Boy (appropriately titled “Democracy”), Earle addresses a direct message to the listener: “no matter what anybody tells you, it is never ever unpatriotic or un-American to question any…thing in a democracy.” Steve Earle enacts an Emersonian brand of pragmatism in his provocative stories meant to rouse the mind to action, and a Whitmanesque poetics in his vision of a better democracy. Earle creates stories out of questionable or problematic circumstances, presenting these scenes to any curious mind that dares approach and apprise them.

This provocation-by-narration can be considered a theory of rhetorical invention in which a listener is exposed to a situation that challenges part of his or her belief system. The personal becomes the rhetorical as soon as it is shared with others. Emerson favored this mode of invention, which is based on the twin ideas that we learn and create mostly in social ways and that invention involves figurative movement to new places, reminiscent of Aristotle’s topoi. Emerson wrote: “When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life” (485). Dewey, somewhat characteristically, takes this Emersonian idea of provocation and makes it the basis of his education modeled on the pragmatic method developed by C.S. Peirce in which the action of thought is excited by an irritation or doubt that ceases only when belief is attained. Dewey explains further in the following quote:

The natural man is impatient with doubt and suspense: he impatiently hurries to be shut of it. A disciplined mind takes delight in the problematic, and cherishes it until a way out is found that approves itself upon examination. The questionable becomes an active questioning, a search; desire for emotion of certitude gives peace to quest for the objects by which the obscure and unsettled may be developed into the stable and clear. (qtd. in West 97)

The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire argued in favor of a “’problem-posing’ education” that focuses on “the posing of the problems of human beings in their relations with the world” (60). I argue that Steve Earle does just this in his work. By presenting narratives from the point of view of the outcasts of our society – especially the accused or the condemned – Earle plants a doubt in the receptive listener’s mind, a doubt that may become “an active questioning” of the listener’s beliefs. In the following section, I discuss some of Earle’s pre-9/11 songs to describe how he enacts the pragmatic poet’s aim to provoke the active mind. The final section will focus on Earle’s overtly political work since 9/11.


Confronting the Other Here and “Over Yonder”:
Steve Earle the Pragmatic Poet

Steve Earle’s primary area of activism has involved his opposition to the death penalty, but he did not write a song on the subject until Tim Robbins asked him to do so for Dead Man Walking, the film based on Sister Helen Prejean’s book by the same name. The result was “Ellis Unit One” (Sidetracks), which is based on Earle’s father’s experience working in a Texas prison and is told from the perspective of a prison guard who has witnessed many executions during his career. Earle has also written songs told from the perspective of the condemned, such as “Billy Austin,” a brooding narrative on the album The Hard Way that challenges preconceived notions about the death penalty. Accompanied only by a quiet acoustic guitar, Earle delivers the stanzas of “Billy Austin” slowly, methodically, inviting the listener to savor each word and digest each line fully. The B-minor chord, considered by some to be the darkest of the minor keys, accentuates every fourth line and grounds the song in a somber mood.

The opening stanza reveals the protagonist’s relative youth and his racial ethnicity that will figure prominently in one of the challenges the reader must face later in the song concerning racism in the penal system. “My name is Billy Austin / I'm twenty-nine years old. / I was born in Oklahoma / Quarter Cherokee I'm told.” Deracination, with its side effects violence and loneliness, dominates the second stanza: “I don't remember Oklahoma / Been so long since I left home / Seems like I've always been in prison / Like I've always been alone.”

In the middle stanzas, the narrator describes the night of the murder and wonders what made him “cross that line.” Listeners also witness the coldness of the court-appointed lawyer, who would not look him in the eye even after Billy was sentenced to death. The story then invites the reader to reconsider the demographic of the inmates on death row and poses the possibility that some of them may be innocent.

Now my waitin's over
As the final hour drags by
I won’t stand here and tell you
That I don't deserve to die
But there's ninety-seven men here
Mostly black, brown, and we’re all poor
Most of us are guilty
Who are you to say for sure?

It is in the final stanzas that Earle’s rhetorical aim becomes clear; the narrative takes a turn here that may challenge some listeners’ conceptions about capital punishment. Imagining ourselves as the condemned prisoner invites the kind of empathy that humanizes Nobles and others like him, but when Earle asks his audience if they could actually execute the condemned one, he brings up the issue of civic responsibility in a democracy. “My theory is that in a democracy, if the government kills someone, then I'm killing someone,” Earle says. “And I object to the damage that does to my spirit, period” (“Interview” 2).

In “Billy Austin,” Earle first takes the audience to a melancholy place (or mood) by appealing to universal human emotions connected with loneliness, pain, and death, themes reinforced by the rhythmic drone of the dark minor chord. Having secured the audience’s attention with this appeal to pathos, considered the most effective appeal since ancient times, Earle then uses the logical appeal by suggesting that the listener – as a citizen of the state – is complicit in the act of execution. Through these rhetorical techniques, Earle questions the moral right and superiority of the state (and the citizen represented by that state) to kill a human. For many listeners, being made accomplice to murder is a problematic situation. The final stanzas address the listener directly:

So when the preacher comes to get me
And they shave off all my hair
Could you take that long walk with me
Knowing hell is waitin' there?
Could you pull that switch yourself sir
With a sure and steady hand?
And then go home and tell yourself, sir,
That you're better than I am?

The listener has several rhetorical options here, one of which may involve a change in his or her beliefs. Challenged by the moral question, the listener makes his or her choices, one of which, of course, is to ignore the question altogether. The attention given the reader in this form of direct address is reminiscent of Walt Whitman, who addressed his audience so directly and hauntingly at times, such as in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”: “And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, / and more in my meditations, than you might suppose” (35).

“Billy Austin” is a convincing fiction, but another song in the Earle anti-death penalty canon is written from the perspective of a real condemned man, Jonathan Wayne Nobles, an inmate in Texas whom Earle befriended and whose execution Earle witnessed. Many of the words in the song are Nobles’s. “Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)” is about “giving Jon a voice,” explains Earle in the NPR interview, and does not address an explicit challenge to the listener’s beliefs on capital punishment. But the story certainly has its rhetorical motivations, mainly its challenge to listeners to think about the humanity of the people on death row. Just as Ernest Gaines leads us through an emotional experience in his novel A Lesson Before Dying, culminating in our reading of the executed Jefferson’s posthumous diary that documents the condemned boy’s last hours, Steve Earle draws the listener into the mind of Jonathan Nobles before he takes his final walk. The result is not only an aesthetic experience, but also a rhetorical situation because it has the potential to lead listeners to action.

Like “Billy Austin,” “Over Yonder (Jonathan’s Song)” (Transcendental Blues) features sparse instrumental accompaniment, mostly limited to Earle finger-picking on an acoustic guitar, and a slow, deliberative delivery of the lines. These effects allow the song slowly to draw the reader into the personal experience of a condemned man. In the first stanza, the speaker describes where he is physically and mentally, hours before his execution and mercifully close to the end of his painful existence: “The warden said he'd mail my letter. / The chaplain's waiting by the door. / Tonight we'll cross that yard together. / Then they can’t hurt me anymore.” In this short narrative, the accused longs for the afterlife “over yonder,” where he believes he will be “free.” He only hopes his death in some way helps the people who hate him: “The world will spin around without me. / The sun will come up in the east, / Shinin' down on all of them that hate me. / I just hope my going brings them peace.”

In Poetry and Pragmatism, Richard Poirier writes that Emersonian pragmatists “promise to help effect transformations not just in writing, but in the actual forms of individual and communal life.” Their rhetoric “is mostly in a socially optative mood” (112). Steve Earle’s rhetoric, too, is mostly aimed at social improvement. When he asks his listeners to reconsider the guilty ones, the dregs of our society, he is reminding us to be humane to one another. In the Preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman advised his readers to “stand up for the stupid and crazy” (15) and one way that Earle does this is by penning songs about condemned people. If Cornel West is correct in his assertion that “the aim of Emersonian pragmatism is to subjectify and humanize unique individuals” (27), then Earle’s narratives are Emersonian to the core. It should not be surprising, then, to find that after 9/11 Earle focused his imaginative powers of provocation on one of the most prominent recent outcasts in American history: John Walker Lindh.


Explaining America to Itself:
Steve Earle’s Poetic Pragmatism after 9/11

Two distinct ways of thinking about 9/11 offer different modes of thought and action. On one hand is the romantic-pragmatic outlook, which views 9/11 as a new experience to test old beliefs, a provocation for self-reflection on both the individual and the national levels. Our biggest failure after 9/11 would be an inability or unwillingness to engage in such a debate. But there is an opposite view, we might call it the militaristic or official governmental position, which holds the United States wholly blameless for 9/11, which it views as an act of war motivated by pure evil, the only response to which is to wage war. While I in no way condone the despicable terrorist acts of 9/11, I do believe that 9/11 calls for intense self-inquiry of the kind promoted by pragmatism. Borrowing the language of Kenneth Burke’s dramatic pentad, I submit that these parties profoundly disagree over the nature of the “scene” of post-9/11 America. For many pragmatists, 9/11 provided a new scene for investigation of the connections between beliefs and actions. The event provides the impetus for thoughtful inquiry that may lead to new theories and practices. The militaristic philosophy also emphasizes the way the scene calls for certain acts after 9/11, but the scene in this case is defined as a state of war in which the terms “good” and “evil” and “us” and “them” are off-limits to criticism.

Narrowing our focus from the overall scene of 9/11 to one specific incident, the actions of “the American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, we find some of the same disagreements arising between these opposing world-views over the nature of the scene and the motivations for acting within it. If we consider the scene to be a state of war against terrorism in which a person is either on the side of the United States or on the side of the terrorists, then Lindh is a traitor to his country. But if the scene opened by 9/11 is one of renewed inquiry into America as an idea (and ourselves as Americans), then Lindh’s story becomes a narrative of persuasion that asks listeners to re-think assumptions about treason, guilt, and freedom. The difference is a matter of different terministic screens that direct the attention in different ways. Steve Earle’s interpretation of Lindh’s story takes this second, pragmatic approach.

John Walker Lindh was nineteen years old when he was found in November 2001 among Taliban forces in a holding facility in Afghanistan where an uprising had caused the death of CIA agent Johnny Michael Spann. Apparently, the teenager decided not only to convert to Islam, but to leave his California home and study Arabic in Yemen, a country considered to be a crucible for Islamic extremism. He then joined the Taliban in Afghanistan as a soldier. The response from conservative commentators and writers can be summed up well in the words of one of my students at the time, who said that Lindh “should be summarily executed.” The website of The New York Post headlined its dispatch on the Lindh story "Twisted Ballad Honors Tali-Rat" and claimed "American Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh is glorified and called Jesus-like in a country-rock maverick singer-songwriter Steve Earle" (Sujo). This opinion is in keeping with what I’ve called the militaristic philosophy that defines the scene after 9/11 as an unambiguous moral battlefield pitting the forces of good and evil. Lindh, according to this view, is a traitor pure and simple because he was found fighting with the enemy, even though the Taliban was supported and funded by the U.S. when Lindh joined and right up to the time of the events of 9/11. Burke explains in A Grammar of Motives that stressing “the term, agent, encourages one to be content with a very vague treatment of scene, with no mention of the political and economic factors that form a major aspect of national scenes” (17). Describing Lindh simply as a traitor that deserves to be hanged is a way of deflecting “attention from scenic matters by situating the motives of an act in the agent” (17).

But a more romantic-pragmatic approach to the story of John Walker Lindh, which is the approach taken by Steve Earle in his song “John Walker’s Blues” (Jerusalem), illuminates new ideas in which Burke’s ratios are at work. When the post 9/11 scene is viewed as a new experience to test our old beliefs and not as a clearly defined battlefield, then the scene-act ratio offers more insight into the situation than the agent-purpose ratio. By shifting the focus away from Lindh as a traitor (agent-purpose) and toward the scene which moved him to act (scene-act), then we unmask unfair assumptions about Lindh and his purposes. My aim here is to, in Burke’s words, “deflect attention from the criticism of personal motives by deriving an act or attitude not from traits of the agent but from the nature of the situation” (17).

In “John Walker’s Blues,” the scene is a materially-oriented world dominated by the global market and the proliferation of American icons and goods worldwide, or what Benjamin Barber calls “McWorld” in his book Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping the World. It is this vacuous scene that has driven Lindh to search for meaning through radical Islam. He is captured but not defeated and, faced with a hostile audience, attempts to explain his purpose in fighting with the Taliban. When using Burke’s pentad to explore human motivations, we often find that one term is clearly dominant as the first cause of action and the other elements follow. In this case, the dominant term is the scene of a spiritually bankrupt culture, the darkness out of which the speaker seeks the light. Like many of his other thoughtful songs, “John Walker’s Blues” is written in the dark key of B-minor, but with its quick chord changes and marching rhythm accompanied by distorted electric guitar, the song evinces a tense and edgy mood indicative of the subject matter. The opening stanzas suggest the scene:

I'm just an American boy, raised on MTV.
And I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads
But none of 'em looked like me.
So I started lookin' around for a light out of the dim.
And the first thing I heard that made sense was the word
Of Mohammed, peace be upon him

In Earle’s interpretation, and borrowing again from Burke’s dramatic theory of rhetoric, it was Lindh’s search for a life worth living within the context of globalization (scene) that led him to Islam as the means (agency) to achieve this end. In this case, “the scene contains the act,” to use a phrase from Burke. For the speaker in this song, the act of fighting with the Taliban is honorable and although Lindh is defeated, he defends his right to act on his beliefs: “If my daddy could see me now – chains around my feet. / He don't understand that sometimes a man / Has got to fight for what he believes.” The next stanza includes the lines in which, as Earle explained in an interview (Zengerle), were meant to show that Islam shows respect for Christianity by viewing Jesus as a prophet: “And I believe God is great, all praise due to him. / And if I should die, I’ll rise up to the sky / Just like Jesus, peace be upon him.” Here is a rhetorical move apparently intended, like Springsteen’s “World’s Apart” (on The Rising), to mediate between what are considered – especially after 9/11 – the extremes of Christianity and Islam. “John Walker’s Blues” shares something else with “World’s Apart”: lyrics in Arabic. While the Arabic is a mostly unintelligible background chant in “Worlds Apart,” it is placed in the most prominent place in “John Walker’s Blues”: the chorus. Taken from a verse in the Koran meaning in part, “I am a witness,” the chorus sounds like part battle-cry and part dirge, its brooding tone accentuated by the E-minor chord at the end of each line: “A shadu la ilaha illa Allah. / There is no God but God.”

The final stanzas of the song focus on Lindh’s act, which in this context is described as heroic and more meaningful than the typical life of an American teenager: “We came to fight the Jihad and our hearts were pure and strong. / As death filled the air, we all offered up prayers / And prepared for our martyrdom.” The final lines reveal the speaker’s faith in his God, even while he is being dragged back, “with my head in a sack, / to the land of the infidel.” The chorus is then repeated as the song fades and ends.

In “John Walker’s Blues,” Steve Earle reminds us that there is a real person with human dignity underneath the label of scapegoat. “It’s not about an agreement with what John Walker Lindh did,” Earle explains. “It’s just about not forgetting, when everyone else was lining up to lynch him, that he was a human being. And I’ve done that pretty consistently throughout my career” (“Interview” 3). Now more than ever, after 9/11, it is important to remember the humanity of those who are quickly labeled as traitors or enemies of the United States. This acknowledgment of the other, which Earle indeed has achieved in his art consistently throughout his career, is an important part of education. In her argument for “cosmopolitanism,” Martha Nussbaum explains that students must “learn to recognize humanity wherever they encounter it, undeterred by traits that are strange to them, and be eager to understand humanity in all its strange guises” (9). Earle’s narrative about John Walker Lindh, his “vivid imagining of the different,” in Nussbaum’s terms, is a pragmatic act of education. This is difficult work, as it is always much easier to rest assured in one’s old conclusions than to dump a whole cartload of beliefs when experience proves them wrong. It is difficult work because, as Rowan Williams explains, “it means putting on hold our most immediate feelings – or at least making them objects of reflection; it means trying to put apart the longing to re-establish the sense of being in control and the longing to find a security that is shared” (270).

Cornel West explains that Emersonian pragmatism “is less a philosophical tradition putting forward solutions to perennial problems in the Western philosophical conversation initiated by Plato, and more a continuous cultural commentary or set of interpretations that attempt to explain America to itself at a particular historical moment” (5). The particular historical moment in American history opened by 9/11 inspired Steve Earle to explain America to itself through his songs. Just as he does in his anti-death penalty songs, Earle presents in “John Walker Blues” a narrative to be experienced by the listener as a moment of inquiry. Such aesthetic experiences can be understood, from a Deweyan perspective, as grounds for human reasoning. Art highlights the context of specific experiences, holding them up for our inspection and our edification, as Thomas Alexander explains:

Objects, things, actions, events – all have their being by being situated within a context. The qualitative unity of the context may be subliminal, or, as in the experience of art, heightened into conscious experience. The transformative nature of situations, part of their reconstructive temporality, involves the constant use of imagination, conceived here as the ability to employ and play with alternative interpretive schemata. (136)

Earle has always had a fondness for alternative interpretive schemata, especially those that represent the viewpoint of the outcast. Earle writes about “despicable people,” in his own words, to remind us that these people are still human. Lindh was objectified into a traitor by some Americans, and Earle made him human again in “John Walker Blues.” Earle would, I am sure, agree with Anne Slifkin, as she writes, “It is easier to scapegoat one person who has aligned himself with our new enemy than to take a critical look at cold war and post-cold war U.S. foreign policy initiatives and decisions” (423). In “John Walker’s Blues,” Earle asks listeners to put aside the view of Lindh as traitor and think about his motivations as a human being looking for meaning in a spiritually vacuous culture. Lindh is an anomaly for most Americans: one of “us” who volunteered to become one of “them.” In keeping with the pragmatic tradition in which I place him, Earle mediates between these extremes through this powerful narrative of persuasion.

Steve Earle, agitator and activist, attempts to provoke his audience to action by describing the experiences of real and fictional “unfamiliar” characters through the careful choice of terministic screens. Earle’s songs remind us of the humanity in the unrecognizable “other” whose experience we may think we understand until moved to reflect on it. Through his choice of terministic screens for describing people like John Walker Lindh, Jonathan Nobles, or the fictional Billy Austin, Earle provokes the audience members to test their previous conclusions concerning these people and their experiences.

With his hope for a better America, his concern with democracy, and his activist tendencies, Steve Earle is a romantic pragmatist for the twenty-first century. What Cornel West said of William James’s pragmatic theory of truth (as always “in the making”) holds true for Steve Earle’s art: they both affirm “the basic Emersonian notion that powers are to be augmented by means of provocation for the purpose of the moral development of human personalities” (65). Steve Earle’s pragmatism shares the vision of John Dewey’s pragmatism as “a political form of cultural criticism and locates politics in the everyday experiences of ordinary people” (West 213). And like James’s moral heroism, Earle’s rhetoric “intends to energize people to become exceptional doers under adverse circumstances, to galvanize zestful fighters against excruciating odds” (West 59). Invoking the best of America’s past through figures such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Woody Guthrie, all of whom he calls on in “Christmas in Washington” (El Corazón) to figuratively “come back to us now,” Earle finds a usable past in American history to galvanize his present efforts to create a more just and equitable – though contingent and revisable – future.

Works Cited

Alexander, Thomas. John Dewey’s Theory of Art, Experience, and Nature: The
Horizons of Feeling
. Albany: State U of New York P, 1987.

Barber, Benjamin. Jihad vs. McWorld: How Globalism and Tribalism are Reshaping the World. New York: Random House, 1995.

Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1945.

---. “Terministic Screens.” Language as Symbolic Action: Essays on Life, Literature, and Method. Los Angeles and London: U of California P, 1966. 44-62.

Dewey, John. “Does Reality Possess Practical Character?” Essays, Philosophical and Psychological. New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1908. 53-80.

Earle, Steve. El Corazòn. E-Squared, 1997.

---. Jerusalem. E-Squared / Artemis, 2002.

---. Just an American Boy: The Audio Documentary. E-Squared / Artemis, 2003.

---. The Hard Way. MCA, 1990.

---. Sidetracks. E-Squared / Artemis, 2002.

------. “Interview with Steve Inskeep.” All Things Considered. National Public Radio. 7 Dec. 2003.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Essays and Lectures. New York: Library of America, 1983.

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New Revised Twentieth-Anniversary Edition. New York: Continuum, 1997.

Nussbaum, Martha. For Love of Country? Boston: Beacon Press, 1996.

Poirier, Richard. Poetry and Pragmatism. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1992.

Slifkin, Anne. “John Walker Lindh.” Dissent from the Homeland: Essays after September 11. South Atlantic Quarterly 101 (Spring): 2002. 417-424.

Springsteen, Bruce. The Rising. Columbia, 2002.

Sujo, Aly. “Twisted Ballad Honors Tali Rat.” New York Post. 21 July 2002: 3.

West, Cornell. The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism. Madison: The U of Wisconsin P, 1989.

Whitman, Walt. “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” Complete Poetry and Collected Prose. New York: The Library of America, 1982. 35-40.

---. “Preface to Leaves of Grass, 1855.” Complete Poetry and Collected Prose. New York: The Library of America, 1982. 5-26.

Williams, Rowan. “End of War.” Dissent from the Homeland: Essays after September 11. South Atlantic Quarterly 101 (Spring): 2002. 267-284.

Zengerle, Jason. “Sympathy for a Rebel.” New York Times Magazine. 25 Aug.
2002: 17.

Back to Top
Journal Home

© 2006 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture