Does the World Interpret America Through a Northern Michigan Lens?

January 11, 2018

If Hemingway was used as a vehicle of American acculturation by the American government post WWII and his life in Michigan impacted his writing through his entire career, what does that then mean with regard to Michigan's role in how America is viewed or was viewed by people outside of the U.S.?


American Cultural Centers are now a governmental staple throughout the world and often do not garner much thought.  The reality is that they were a byproduct of the Second World War when the American government thought to reach out to the rest of the world in a friendly yet formal manner.  A former American soldier was tapped for heading up the Institut D'Etudes Americaines in France where they had weekly broadcasts about Jazz and symposiums on American literature among other cultural elements.  As a precursor to the American Cultural program, the Institut would have found the  "Lost Generation" of American writers in Paris to be low hanging fruit.  Circa 1972, the organization published a small journal American Literature which featured literary criticism on the writings of: F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway.  Two of the three authors are still household names with Fitzgerald skipping out of World War II, dying in 1940.  Fitzgerald served during the First World War as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry but the war ended before he ever left the U.S.  In contrast, though brief, Hemingway volunteered and was injured during the war yielding smiling images of him on crutches during recuperation.  The shell that wounded him killed another American ambulance driver just feet away.  Hemingway experienced the war, the aftermath, and the conflicts leading up to the Second World War and the Cold War.  He was an American with which Europeans at least could identify as a person of shared experiences. 


In Michigan, producer/director George Colburn is working on a documentary in which he hopes to demonstrate that Hemingway infused elements of his Michigan experience throughout his lifelong body of work.  In support of his ideas, it was to Michigan that Hemingway traveled to recuperate from his war injury flashing the iconic young Hemingway smile.  With this question in mind, I am looking forward to seeing the finished work. 












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