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American Literature and Culture Since 1945 A Short Overview.

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Presentation on theme: "American Literature and Culture Since 1945 A Short Overview."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Literature and Culture Since 1945 A Short Overview

2 From Hassan Ihab’s “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism” The Postmodern Turn (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1987, cited in Nealon and Girouz’s The Theory Toolbox, 2003). ModernismPostmodernism Form (closed)Anti-form (open) PurposePlay DesignChance HierarchyAnarchy Finished Art ObjectProcess/Performance DistanceParticipation TotalizationDeconstruction CenteringDispersal MetaphorMetonymy SignifiedSignifier DepthSurface DeterminancyIndeterminancy

3 “The War is Over!” – Americans Come Home Positioned to Emerge as a Dominant Power Globally

4 As the post-war political scene settles, the U.S. and the former Soviet Union (then the U.S.S.R.) begin what will be a political, economic, and ideological standoff—better known as the “Cold War”—which will last until the end of the 1980s. The U.S. promotes a policy of "Assured Destruction" In response, Americans begin to prepare advocated by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert for the possible consequences of such McNamara (often referred to as MAD – Mutually an event (made very real by the Cuban Assured Destruction)Missle Crises in 1962) p.s. With the end of the U.S. shuttle program, some might say the Soviets won the space race. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/07/08/it-s-goodbye-shuttle-hello-soyuz-after-atlantis-last-flight.html

5 As American consumer power grows in the 1950s and 1960s, so does the dream of home ownership—a.k.a. the “American Dream”--and thus the rise of the Suburbs. Note: FDR’s Second Bill of American Rights helps white Americans accieve this dream.

6 At times celebratory and at times critical, American art begins to reflect a rising consumer culture. Andy Warhol's “Campbell Soup Can” and “Elvis” (both c. 1971)

7 At the same time, American authors belonging to counter-cultural movements (such as the Beat Poets) begin to question the effects of this prosperity—and to search out other value systems. Allen Ginsburg reading “Howl” in Washington Square in 1966

8 Simultaneously, the pursuit by minority Americans for inclusion in—and access to—the privileges of Mainstream America takes center stage in American media. Martin Luther King Jr. Leads the Bus Boycott inMalcolm X gives a speech at a Black Montgomery, AL – 1956Muslim Convention - 1963

9 By the end of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s, more and more Americans begin to question the political and military role that should be played by the now dominant American Empire. Note: Eisenhower warns of this with his now famous 1961 “Military-Industrial Complex” Speech October 21, 1967 – Demonstrators Gather at May 4, 1970 – Students protest the war at the Lincoln Memorial and the Pentagon to protest Kent State and members of the Ohio the Vietnam WarNation Guard respond with violence.

10 By the 1980s, Americans seemingly become more comfortable with their prosperity and power and begin to celebrate the excesses of consumer culture. (This is the era of “shop ‘till you drop” and getting rich on Wall Street). Modonna’s “Material Girl” (1985) rankedRisky Buisiness premiered in 1983 and In the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100Wall Street followed in 1987.

11 By the late 1980s and throughout the end of the 20 th century, more minority authors gain national—and global—acclaim. The era of “multiculturalism” and diversity opens doors for more African-American, Asian-American, Native-American, and Latino/a Authors

12 1980-Present: The Changing Aesthetics of Excellence Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction 2011 – A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan 2010 – Tinkers by Paul Harding 2009 – Olive Kitteridge byElizabeth Strout 2008 – The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz 2007 – The Road by Cormac McCarthy 2006 – March by Geraldine Brooks 2005 – Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 2004 – The Known World byEdward P. Jones 2003 – Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 2002 – Empire Falls by Richard Russo 2001 – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon 2000 – Interpreter of Maladies byJhumpa Lahiri 1999 – The Hours by Michael Cunningham 1998 – American Pastoral byPhilip Roth 1997 – Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer bySteven Millhauser 1996 – Independence Day byRichard Ford 1995 – The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields 1994 – The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx 1993 – A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler 1992 – A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley 1991 – Rabbit At Rest by John Updike 1990 - The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos 1989 – Breathing Lessons byAnne Tyler 1988 – Beloved by Toni Morrison 1987 – A Summons to Memphis byPeter Taylor 1986 – Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry 1985 –Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie 1984 – Ironweed by William Kennedy 1983 – The Color Purple by Alice Walker 1982 – Rabbit Is Rich by John Updike 1981 – A Confederacy of Duncesby the late John Kennedy Toole 1980 - The Executioner's Song byNorman Mailer


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