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This is the time in American Lit known as "post-modernism" (which, in itself is one of the most ridiculous titles for any movement, be it art, literature, music, etc.). By nature, post-modernism is ambiguous at best. You may want to see what you find in researching "Post-Modern Literature."
Other than that, a couple key points I might include in such a project are:
- immediately following WWII shows a nation that is unified, powerful, confident (consider our victory in the war and what it did for our government and nation as an international power)
- Regional writing - literature regions shift from the east to the midwest and the south
- short stories flourish
- a blending of fiction and non-fiction (Truman Capotes In Cold Blood)
- towards the 60s there is a rise in Civil Rights writing. The Harlem Renaissance gives way to more and more black and white authors writing for equality.
- this time also begins "America's unraveling" - political writing during the 60s showed America's rebellion against the government, the Vietnam War, more about Civil Rights
In the post world war ii literature, the sense of doom initiated by the first took on a more permeated and almost fatalistic turn and the themes of fragmentation, devaluation, chaos, pessimism, absurdity, desolation and despair defined the moods of the literary output. The incredulity towards the metanarrative or the grand-narrative which Lyotard calls the defining feature of the postmodern was all over the place with the disillusionment with the humanist premises of nobility and peace.
The chaotic connotations of the Theatre of the Absurd or the Theatre of Panic or Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty are important expressions of this temper. As Agamben has shown us now, another important trait of this era was the testimonial literature of the Jewish people who had to go through all the nightmares of the concentration camp. Adorno called for an intellectual investigation and soul-searching by raising the question--can there be poetry after the Auschwitz?
To take an instance, we can think of Samuel Beckett's play Endgame and the way it implicitly builds on the neuclear disaster without a single particular reference to the bomb or the explosion. The post-holocaust art in this way absorbed the chaotic experiences into its bodily form, way beyond mere representation.
What about working with ruins, feeling lost, isolation, starting all over again, guilt, nightmares, flight and displacement, hunger...?
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