Welcome to the Department of English at Rutgers University

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American Literature and Social Movements since 1945

In the United States, the seventy-year period since the end of World War II has been marked by a series of social upheavals and cultural transformations. From the Civil Rights, countercultural, feminist, and anti-war movements of the 1950's and 1960's to Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter in the 2010's, several generations of social actors and movements have reshaped the country's cultural terrain. This course takes these movements in culture as a starting point for examining major American literary works of the post-1945 period. For each unit, we will read fiction, essays and poetry in relation to a significant social or cultural movement, considering how literature shapes and is shaped by its historical moment. Authors studied include Jack Kerouac, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Adrienne Rich, Norman Mailer, Ben Lerner and Claudia Rankine.

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Statue of "Willie the Silent"