New Historicist and Cultural Materialist Study of Witness, For Richer or Poorer, and Amish Grace
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This dissertation is concerned with the study of the Amish portrayal in three American films, namely Witness (1985), For Richer or Poorer (1997), and Amish Grace (2010). The aim of my work is to demonstrate that these texts are the product of their respective socio-political contexts. They deploy the Amish religious minority for the purpose of criticizing and reproducing the American mainstream values. The study is divided into three chapters. The first one consists of the historical background whose major goal is to provide a better understanding of the Amish history and culture as well as their place amidst the mainstream American culture. As for the second chapter, it discusses the image of the Amish as a critical metaphor of mainstream America in Witness and For Richer or Poorer. Witness uses the Amish culture as a vehicle for reinforcing and articulating the 1980s conservative agenda. In the same vein, For Richer or Poorer invokes the sense of the Amish as Other and exotic only in order to reinforce the centrality of the dominant American culture’s self. The last chapter deals with the Amish image as a supporting metaphor of mainstream American values in the film Amish Grace. It shows the shift in the dominant culture’s attitude and vision of the Amish minority as a film subject. The Amish values that are manifested after the Nickel Mines School Shooting tragedy are appropriated by the mainstream majority as a healing mechanism for the post 9/11 United States of America.