Contemporary North American Literature


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 Maria Lourenço de Oliveira


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

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

40% (prática) 60% (teórica)
A análise dos textos primários será privilegiada pelo docente, acompanhada pelo estudo dos contextos em que as obras foram produzidas. A leitura e comentário de estudos e ensaios sobre as obras, bem como sobre os respectivos contextos, será supervisionada por forma a que os estudantes possam desenvolver a sua própria capacidade crítica.

Evaluation method

Assessment consists of active participation in classes, written participation in the forums and one final written test. The final mark will consider the final test grade and this will be compensated with up to two points from the other forms of participation.

Subject matter

1.Introduction: how literature answered the challenges of history
2. Attempts to articulate answers after the Second World War:
a)A procura de uma identidade:
•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”
• Toni Morrison, "Recitatif"
b)Varieties of escape and the search for alternatives:
• The Beat generation: Jack Kerouac, On the Road (excerpts); poems Allen Ginsberg (selection)
•Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Slaughterhouse-Five;
c) The private/public quests:
•poems Sylvia Plath (selection)
d) Trauma, religion and survival:
• Tim O’ Brien, “The Things They Carried”
• Flannery O’Connor, “ A Good Man is Hard to Find”