American Literature from 1900

This module is a selective survey of the development of American Literature during the twentieth century. It examines literary responses to modernity and postmodernity and relates literary texts to their cultural and social contexts. In the period covered by the module these contexts were changing radically: industrialisation and technological advance, increased urbanisation, the expansion of the US economy and then its collapse in the Wall Street Crash and ensuing Great Depression, alongside America’s development into a global power. This change altered the conception of what ‘America’ was and what it stood for, in ways that challenged writers’ view of their role in this rapidly-evolving society. Furthermore, with the Anglo-American definition of America losing some of its authority, voices previously marginalised became audible, as regional and minority writers declared, ‘I, too, am America’.