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We have entered a time of decisive shifts in the meanings attached to the United States in the world. In the Middle East and North Africa, there is widespread distrust of American imperial intentions. But many Arabs and Iranians, among others, have also been attracted to the charisma of American ideals as they accompany our cultural products and forms: movies, fiction, hip hop, comic books, American models of higher education, and social networking sites, among many others. What do these apparently conflicting responses to America and American culture tell us about the new Middle East? What do they tell us about the United States and the global reach of its culture in the 21st century? Northwestern University professor of English Brian Edwards discusses his work and research in US literature and culture in its international context.