Modern Literature and the Media in the U.S.

1. What are 3 things that President Obama’s executive
order will do?
2. What does President Obama say Americans are tired
of? What does he mean by this?
3. How does President Obama appeal to American
emotions in his speech? (for example, does he use
personal stories or factual evidence?) Support your
answer with an example.
4. President Obama says, “We expect people who live in
this country to play by the rules.” Why does he say this?
What does he mean?
Modern Literature and the
Media in the U.S.
Realism & Naturalism (1860s1920s)
During Civil War, writers moved away from Romanticism
Turned towards representing people and events as they really are
Nature is powerful
Humans choices are limited by outside forces
Naturalism= humans have no choices
Civil War writers
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
First to sell 1 million copies
Anti-slavery, depicted it as it really was
Frederick Douglas
Escaped slave, big in the abolitionist movement
Autobiography led to others supporting the movement
Realism & Naturalism (1860s1920s)
Other influential authors of the time
Mark Twain
Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer
Used vernacular
Jack London
Call of the Wild
Survival of the fittest
Willa Cather
O Pioneers!
What do they all have in common?
Tried to depict what life was actually like for people, as
opposed to a romantic depiction
Realism & Naturalism:
The Media
The beginning of investigative journalism
Journalists who exposed corruption and harsh working
For example, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Immigrants’ experiences in Chicago
Revealed unsanitary conditions of
meatpacking industry
Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
Realism & Naturalism: Legacy
What are these periods remembered for?
Depicting regions of America as they really were
Using colloquial language
Reflected the difficulties of living in a changing America
More people lived in cities
Immigrant experiences
America becoming an industrial nation, as opposed to an
agricultural one
Modernism (1915-1945)
The period between the wars (WWI and WWII)
US becomes a truly modern nation
Literature that reflects the working class
Growth of middle class
The “Lost Generation”
Immediately after WWI
A group defined by their feeling of lost values, despair
American expatriate writers of the 1920s
Hemingway, Fitzgerald
The Lost Generation
Modernism (1915-1945)
“Generally, modernists were driven by the belief that
the assurances once provided by religion, politics, or
society no longer sufficed. This belief intensified after
World War I, when it seemed to many that history
itself was coming to an end and that modern life was
horrific, chaotic, and ultimately futile.” -PBS
Modernism (1915-1945)
A changing world
Led to experimentation in form
New viewpoints in literature
William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury is broken up
into four characters/narrators
New poetic forms
Two groups (agreed on importance of lit)
Expatriates who were connecting old
form with new, no American tradition
Modernists connected to America
Regionally connected
Robert Frost
A beloved poet
Connected to traditional farm life
John Steinbeck
The Grapes of Wrath is about the
hardships faced by famers
during the Great Depression in
Life in farming was becoming
harder as modernization
His book connected with
Americans through its regional
lens, sympathetic with its
Harlem Renaissance (1920s1935)
First major movement of African-American literature
Started in Harlem, part of New York City
A diverse movement
Countee Cullen
Wrote poetry in accepted forms and believed that “a poet
should not allow race to dictate the subject matter and style
of a poem”
Langston Hughes
Saw standard poetry as a betrayal with his own racial identity,
sought to explore his own race through poetry and using
idioms and forms associated with this
Harlem Renaissance
Countee Cullen
Langston Hughes
Mother to son
The Beat Generations (1950s1960s)
Major writers include Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg,
William Burroughs
Why the Beat generation?
Kerouac wrote it was because they were “socially
marginalized and exhausted ("beaten down”)” –PBS
Focused on individual freedom and rejection of
materialism, consumerism, conformity
Inspired by jazz music
Defined by
Stream of consciousness
Lack of coherence
Drug use
Howl by Allen Ginsberg
Defined by
Blurring of reality
Emergence of ethnic and female writers
Influential writers
J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye
Symbol for disaffected youth
Sylvia Plath
Dark poetry
Truman Capote
The original non-fiction
Tells the story of the
murders of a family in
Important in journalism
and literature
Ethnic and female writers
Gwendolyn Brooks
First black female poet to win a Pulitzer
Toni Morrison
Maya Angelou
Alice Walker
Amy Tan
Julia Alvarez
Gwendolyn Brooks
Current Literature in the U.S.
Extremely diverse
As diverse as the United States itself
Non-fiction and memoirs
Fragmentation: many narrators, question external
structures of politics etc.
“Instead, they mine popular culture genres, especially
science fiction, spy, and detective stories, becoming, in
effect, archaeologists of pop culture” –American
Literature Revised Edition
Don DeLilo
David Foster Wallace