Since colonial times, Americans have viewed themselves as distinct from the inhabitants of other lands. Today, many still do: relishing a sense of their uniqueness more than ever, upholding the superiority of their democratic ideals and the vitality of their economic system. In an era of globalisation and post-modernity, meanwhile, scholarly discussion of American Exceptionalism among historians, sociologists, political scientists and literary and cultural critics has continued to pursue new directions. This issue of "The Dolphin" assesses the state of Exceptionalist debates at the close of what Henry Luce dubbed "the American century". Some of the essays revisit well-established expressions of Exceptionalism in American cultural history, while others draw on recent work in newer academic fields, including feminist and African-American studies, to develop or revise Exceptionalist discourses. Still others examine the concept in little-studied contexts, connecting it with such phenomena as judicial activism, regionalism and the Information Age. Embracing critical and sympathetic viewpoints alike, "Marks of Distinction" combines new scholarship from both sides of the Atlantic for an up-to-date survey of Exceptionalism, one of the most long-standing concerns of American Studies, from its origins to the present.