Contemporary North American Literature - 2nd semester


a)To improve the knowledge of North-American literature from 1945 to the present.
b)To enable critical analysis of the authors from the above-mentioned period and to relate them to the cultural context in which their works were produced.
c)To produce critical readings of the literary texts.
d)To be able to make and organize bibliographical research about the authors, works and period under scrutiny.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Isabel Oliveira Martins


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Not applicable. However, students are advised to have completed the subject North American Literature.


Rangno, E. (2005). Contemporary American Literature, 1945-Present: American Literature in Its Historical, Cultural, and Social Contexts. N.Y.: Facts on File, Inc.
Bercovitch, S. (ed.) (1996). The Cambridge History of American Literature. Volume Eight: Poetry and Criticism: 1940-1995. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Durante, R. (2001). The Dialectic of Self and Story; Reading and Storytelling in Contemporary American Literature. N.Y.: Garland Science.
Ruland, R. & Bradbury, M. (1991). From Puritanism to Post-Modernism. A History of American Literature. N.Y.: Routledge.
Tallack, D. (1991). Twentieth-Century America. The Intellectual and Cultural Context. N. Y.: Longman.

Teaching method

The critical study of the literary texts will be privileged in the teacher’s lectures together with the study of the context in which the works were produced. This will be accompanied by the study of other kind of bibliographical material, such as studies and essays about the authors and the context in which their works were produced.

Evaluation method

Evaluation will include active participation in class, a discussion in class of one of the texts (by one or more students), and a final written test.

Subject matter

1.Introduction to the main issues of the course: a survey of how American literature has met the challenges of American history.
2.Attempts to articulate answers after the Second World War:
a)Searching for identity:
•J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in The Rye
•Raymond Carver, “Where I’m Calling From”
•Annie Proulx, “What Kind of Furniture Would Jesus Pick?”
•Gish Jen, “In the American Society”
•Sandra Cisneros, “Eleven”
•John Updike, “A&P”
b)Looking for alternatives and different kinds of escape:
•The Beat Generation: Jack Kerouac, On the Road; selection of poems by Allen Ginsberg; The voice of women – Joyce Glassman.
•Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five;
c)The personal quest:
•Selection of poems by Sylvia Plath
•Selection of poems by Adrienne Rich
d)Trauma, religion and survival:
•Raymond Carver, “A Small, Good Thing”
•Tim O’ Brien, “The Things They Carried”
•Flannery O’Connor, “ A Good Man is Hard to Find”