5. Negotiating the American Century

American Literature since 1945

  1. Richard Gray

Published Online: 21 MAR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444397604.ch5

A Brief History of American Literature

A Brief History of American Literature

How to Cite

Gray, R. (2011) Negotiating the American Century, in A Brief History of American Literature, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444397604.ch5

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2012
  2. Published Print: 7 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405192316

Online ISBN: 9781444397604



  • negotiating the American Century - American Literature since 1945;
  • formalists and confessionals - from the mythological eye to the lonely “I” in poetry;
  • The War Poets, edited by influential anthologist Oscar Williams - and War and the Poet, edited by Richard Eberhart;
  • formalism to freedom in poetry - confessional poetry “Alas, I can only tell my own story” by Robert Lowell (1911–1977);
  • contested identities in prose, first novel of E. L. Doctorow (1931–) - Welcome to Hard Times (1960), a Western of sorts;
  • The Witches of Eastwick (1984) and The Widows of Eastwick (2008) - three mischievous suburban women enjoying adventures, simultaneously sexual and paranormal;
  • beats, prophets, and aesthetes - rediscovering the American voice, The Black Mountain Writers;
  • different vision of alternative America surfacing - the visual arts, the New York poets, among them Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery;
  • the art and politics of race - defining a new black aesthetic;
  • Black Arts movement, movement inspiring poets - inspiration from it, and from Amiri Baraka, being Mari Evans, Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Towards a Transnational Nation

  • Formalists and Confessionals

  • Public and Private Histories

  • Beats, Prophets, and Aesthetes

  • The Art and Politics of Race

  • Realism and Its Discontents

  • Language and Genre

  • Creating New Americas