American Literature in Context after 1929

American Literature in Context after 1929

American Literature in Context after 1929

American Literature in Context after 1929

Synopsis

This book situates American literature from the Great Depression to the present day in its historical context
  • Explores the issues that engaged American writers from 1929 to the present
  • Draws on a range of documents from magazine and newspaper accounts to government reports and important non-fiction
  • The book covers political ferment of the 1930s; post-World War II anti-Communism; post-War affluence; suburbanization and demographic change; juvenile delinquency, mental illness and the perception of the U.S. as a "sick" society; and post-1965 immigration
  • Designed to be compatible with the major anthologies of literature from the period
  • Equips students and general readers with the necessary historical context needed to understand the writings from this period and provides original and useful readings that demonstrate how context contributes to meaning
  • Includes a historical timeline, featuring key literary works, American presidents, and historical events

Excerpt

American Literature in Context after 1929 is intended to provide readers with basic knowledge about key, ongoing American social issues so that they can better understand literary texts. As in my American Literature in Context from 1865 to 1929, each chapter describes an issue and then discusses how it was engaged by representative writers. I do not attempt to provide an historian’s hindsight perspective that utilizes a full array of evidence; rather, I present the issues as they might have been understood by writers at the times they were writing. The ongoing issues include the following: (1) how individuals are valued, how ordinary people fare in American society, and what opportunities exist for them; (2) the nature and role of the state and how it responds to real and perceived threats; (3) how the young respond to the world they will inherit; (4) how people are connected to one another and to the places in which they live; and (5) how newcomers fare in the US. Each of the five is absolutely fundamental. Each could generate encyclopedias of information, discussion, and debate – and has done so.

My account of the issues and their involvement in representative literary works is broad and brief. The first chapter is about the political and literary ferment of the Great Depression and World War II years, ending in a brief listing of the horrendous numbers of World War II deaths. It focuses on social change issues and the interest of many writers in so-called “ordinary people” or “everyday folk” as primary subjects. The second chapter is about anti-Communism, the overarching movement that determined many features of postWorld War II American foreign and domestic policy and that also . . .

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