Past Program

Apr 02 - Apr 09, 2003

Contemporary American Literature


Since the late 1960s, social, political, and technological changes throughout the world have accelerated the cultural diversity of many nations. In the United States, the migration and immigration of millions from around the world, have transformed the demographics and culture of the nation. This session will explore the impact these transformations have had on literary expression in contemporary America. The session will consider how these new cultures have been reshaped by the American experience, and how they, in turn, have helped evolve traditional notions of the American literary canon. Among the issues to be addressed: What new literary themes and forms of expression have emerged from these diverse cultural influences? What continuities can still be identified as distinctly American? What role have these new literatures played in helping to shape individual ethnic identities within the United States? How have these new literatures reshaped our understanding of American culture in general? Can one still speak of “an” American literature, or is the United States a nation of many literatures?


In order to explore these processes, this session will bring together a diverse faculty who will consider the diverse influences, both literary and non-literary, involved in the emergence of literature. The session will explore how literature emerges within specific social and ethnic contexts, how it finds its way to the public through publishing houses and literary magazines, how it is received by critics and readers, and ultimately how it finds its way to a global audience


Session 408, Contemporary American Literature, is a joint Salzburg Seminar core and American Studies session (ASC 31)