Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 12-5-2018

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Jan Osborn


Examining the symbolic Gun against its tangible counterpart illuminates abstract attachments of power and superiority this nation associates with the weapon. These elements loaded in the Gun transform the weapon into an object representative of American identity. Analyzing ideological commitments within the Gun guides a critical response to examine disproportionately increasing national gun violence against stagnant federal gun control. The ongoing gun debate must be analyzed in its entirety, beginning at its source - the Second Amendment. Scholars such as Gary Wills dissect the Second Amendment to extract its contextualized intent from modern writers’ manipulated interpretations. It is not the Amendment but the ideological weight it carries that sustains private gun ownership in the United States. Untouched by the gun debate is a close reading of both American literature and political rhetoric to pinpoint the multifaceted attributes of the symbolic Gun as a means of extracting and diluting hegemonic principles defining America. Three American short stories deliberately include the Gun as representative of individual power. Across eight Presidential national eulogies after mass shootings, the Gun identified in literature escapes the eulogy; however the Gun’s symbolic attribute - societal power - is vocalized. Articulation, a specific ideological critical approach, structures texts for the purpose of breaking them down into elements; if these elements cluster around specific themes, the texts might establish or contribute to an ideology. Both American literature and politics work in creating a shared narrative about the Gun that shape self identities and a national ideology of power simultaneously. American exceptionalism as an ideology stamps the individual through literary narrative and cements its withstanding weight through legislation.


Presented at the Fall 2018 Student Scholar Symposium at Chapman University.