Bankrupt Sons in Post World War II American Culture (ASA 2013; 1/10/13)

full name / name of organization: 
Elizabeth Abele
contact email: 

Call for Papers
for a session at

American Studies Association Annual Meeting:
"Beyond the Logic of Debt, Toward an Ethics of Collective Dissent"
November 21-24, 2013: Hilton Washington, DC

The Lesser Generation: Bankrupt Sons in Post-World II American Culture
In his book 2001 book The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw indirectly evokes a generation of men who can never repay their father's generation. These sons not only will never get out from under the debt to their fathers, there is likewise the implication that these sons will never move out from their fathers' shadow.
The figure of the privileged, bankrupt son can be seen throughout post-World War II American culture. These may be literal sons, such as Death of a Salesman 's Biff Loman, Song of Solomon's Milkman, The Graduate's Benjamin Braddock, and "The Sopranos" ' A.J. This burden can likewise exist with figurative sons, such as the weeping elder Ryan in the coda of Saving Private Ryan. This session wishes to complicate constructions of the beneficient patriarch and his less worthy son, placing this rhetoric within shifting twentieth century American ideals of masculinity, success, work and sacrifice. Papers are encouraged that examine this trope across multiple texts and mediums. Please submit abstracts (300 words), a brief bio, and a c.v. to Elizabeth Abele ( by January 13, 2013.