American Literature in the 1960's

Start Free Trial

I don't know much about American literature in 1960s. I want to find some brief information about this period. Could anybody tell me how that eventful time was illustrated in literature? How did the literature change in comparison with 50s?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There were many different literary movements in the 1960s, some continuous with literary movements of the 1950s and some representing new approaches to form and subject matter.

The Beat poets of the 1950s, including Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti continued to be influential, pursuing a style influenced by Whitman,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

There were many different literary movements in the 1960s, some continuous with literary movements of the 1950s and some representing new approaches to form and subject matter.

The Beat poets of the 1950s, including Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti continued to be influential, pursuing a style influenced by Whitman, emphasizing intense first person experience and rebellion against both social and literary conventions. Also linked with the Beats and active at the same period were the Black Mountain poets, including  Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, and Robert Creeley, all of whom appropriated many of the poetic techniques of Pound and the Imagists. Southern poets and an eclectic group associated with Yvor Winters remained concerned with traditional forms.

In fiction, one major topic area was the Vietnam War; perhaps the most iconic novel emerging from this was Joseph Heller's Catch-22. William S. Burroughs, Henry Miller, and Jack Kerouac wrote novels connected with the Beat movement, written in a stream-of-consciousness style and including explicit details of sexual experiences. Another major development in fiction was the growth of postmodernism, especially metafiction, seen in the work of such writers as Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Coover, John Barth, and Thomas Pynchon. 

In nonfiction, a major movement was the New Journalism, a highly personal, novelistic style of writing which focused as much on the character and reactions of the writer as on the putative subject. Exemplars of this style included Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter Thompson. 

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team