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The Redemptive SelfStories Americans Live By$
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Dan P. McAdams

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.001.0001

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REDEMPTION AND THE AMERICAN SOUL

REDEMPTION AND THE AMERICAN SOUL

Chapter:
(p.15) One REDEMPTION AND THE AMERICAN SOUL
Source:
The Redemptive Self
Author(s):

Dan P. McAdams

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.003.0002

This chapter begins with a case study of a highly generative African-American schoolteacher and a content analysis of lead stories in People magazine in order to introduce the theme of redemption in people's life stories and in American cultural texts. It examines the theme of redemption in (1) psychological research on confession, self-disclosure, and benefit-finding in the face of personal adversity, and (2) such quintessential American narratives as the Puritans' accounts of spiritual transformation, Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, Horatio Alger stories, and narratives of escaped African-American slaves in the 19th century. Psychological and cultural analysis suggests six different languages of redemption in American society: atonement (religious), emancipation (political), upward mobility (economic), recovery (medical, psychological), enlightenment (education), and development (familial, psychological).

Keywords:   People magazine, Puritans, Benjamin Franklin, Horatio Alger, benefit-finding, atonement, American dream

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