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LIT 3327 - Week 01 Notes

by: Sarah Notetaker

LIT 3327 - Week 01 Notes LIT 3327

Sarah Notetaker

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These notes cover the First week of Mid-Twentieth century American literature.
Mid-Twentieth Century American Literature
Dr. Ingrao
Class Notes
Mid-Twentieth, century, american, Literature, LIT3327
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Notetaker on Thursday June 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to LIT 3327 at University of Texas at Dallas taught by Dr. Ingrao in Summer 2016. Since its upload, it has received 16 views. For similar materials see Mid-Twentieth Century American Literature in Literature at University of Texas at Dallas.


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Date Created: 06/16/16
Conformity and a National Literature • World War II -> Social Impacts ◦ When African Americans returned from serving in war, still faced prejudices -> civil rights movement ◦ Rosie The riveter -> empowering women to contribute while men at war ‣ when men came back, expected to go back home and tend to the house ◦ Change from factories producing automobiles -> technology and bombs (new war tech) • Backyard bomb shelter (1950s) ◦ "life would go on normally in the effect of atomic attack" ◦ instructional movies to reassure the american people. (placebo to prevent panic) ◦ relied on gender and family stereotyping: ‣ ads that show men relaxing, and women fulfilling domestic duties, and "dutiful" children ‣ Batman: • Bruce - becomes "father" figure • Dick Grayson - "dutiful" child, who does his homework before Bruce gets home, mows the lawn • Increasingly materialistic living (1950s) ◦ conformity encouraged ◦ suburban living - living out in the suburbs, commuting into your job • Education ◦ 1957 - launch of Sputnik (America is lagging behind the Soviet Union) - increase in attention to science • American dream - Prosperous, secure country. ◦ We are a global watchdog, but at home we are secure ◦ House in a suburb, white picket fence, happiness at home • Literature enforces conformity and subverts conformity (1950s) ◦ writers who represented an entire people by a poem, play, short story ◦ "The Great American Novel" notion - one book could encapsulate the American dream. ‣ there is a shared American core that can be captured in a novel ◦ Writing (published in magazines and newspapers) includes "modern" appliances, etc. ‣ on opposite page, ad for items ◦ Regional authors decline in sales ‣ Faulkner survived this decline • Poetry ◦ gained ground in the 1940s - effort by the modernists ‣ Elliot - The Wasteland ◦ Poets were becoming increasingly famous - poetry readings ‣ Authors as public figures ‣ became linked to English curriculum more than it had been ‣ Now had Writing major for college • Art becomes increasingly: ◦ Subjective ‣ with confessional poetry ◦ Political ◦ Self-Referential - works of art that are consciously aware of themselves as being works of art ‣ ex: Meta text ‣ inclusion of the author into the work Death of a Salesman (Introduction) • Willy Lowman seems "out of place" ◦ character more suited for Great Depression as opposed to Era of affluence and materialism • Read not as a play, but as a short story ◦ was originally written as a short story when Miller was 17 • Producers were originally worried that the title would push away audiences (Using "Death" in the title) • Larger themes: ◦ Hope - notion that on some level valor is trying to hold up in the face of his inevitable failure ‣ something you need to possess as a salesman • Miller's writings are very specific social criticism ◦ ex: The crucible as a critique for "Which hunting" during the red scare mid-20th century • Time is important ◦ actual play takes place in 24 hours ◦ Willy's mind wanders into the past, past becomes as real or MORE real to Willy than the present ◦ compared to as a cake, past as a knife cutting through the layers of the cake. Death of a Salesman (Act One) • First paragraph description ◦ Dream ‣ "Air of a dream that clings to Willy's house" • hope? American Dream? ◦ Apartment buildings ‣ "Angry glow of orange" on the apartments, "Blue light of the sky" for the house ‣ Those who haven't achieved the "american dream" surround his house ◦ "Towering angular shapes" ‣ The apartments? Sky scrapers (City landscape)? • Through Linda's first lines, we can see her supportiveness ◦ she thinks he needs to just relax • Source of Willy's stress/exhaustion ◦ we can see that Willy is in some way exhausted, and not just physically ◦ he works in New England • Will's hope is consistent ◦ "I'll start out in the morning. Maybe I'll feel better in the morning." ◦ Linda's hope is evident as well, when talking about her sons • Willy's definition for success: ◦ $35 a week (Income) ◦ Living american dream ("In the greatest country in the world") ◦ "Personal attractiveness" ‣ hard worker is added as an afterthought to attractiveness ◦ Hard work doesn't seem to be the reason for success - is this really the American dream? ‣ Willy seems trying to shortcut the american dream, "look like you work hard" • Apartments - Death of American Dream ◦ Made the yard shrink ◦ made the trees get cut down ◦ made it so outside the windows there's bricks. ◦ More apartments -> more people -> more competition Death of a Salesman • liked vs well-liked ◦ importance of being "well-liked" to Willy: Success, who you know ‣ What do you get from "who you know"? • Money, help, appreciation, love • His family does this, but he doesn't recognize it/it isn't enough ◦ printing University of Virginia - "Image of success", hasn't actually been accepted • Brother Ben ◦ Older brother, but more of a father figure to Willy ◦ "I went OUT to the jungle" ‣ Idea that man needs to go OUT and achieve success ◦ I walked into the jungle, and I walked out a success ‣ Implies he got his money by immoral means ‣ immorality is okay as long as the image is maintained • Charley ◦ Why won't Willy take a job from Charley? ‣ "He's liked but not well-liked" ‣ Says his business is going to be better than Charley's to his sons ‣ If he takes loans, it's temporary, if he takes a job he'll have to work under a man who in his opinion is not "well-liked" ◦ Succeeded through hard work, not who he knows ‣ Charlie would expect him to work ◦ Charlie + Bernard are advocates for hard work ‣ Bernard - "He's got to study" • The Affair ◦ "You picked me" ‣ Willy successfully selling himself ◦ Receives the appreciation, love, that he doesn't acknowledge from home • Why is he trying to kill himself? ◦ Insurance - the only thing he has to give Biff is the insurance money ◦ sense of failure The Beats (Early 1940s) • Members: William S Burroughs ◦ Jack Kerouac (involved by 1944) - first to use "beat" ("I guess you could say we're a beat generation") ‣ the experience of being beat ‣ feeling of being reduced to the bedrock of consciousness ◦ Allen Ginsberg - you get beat down to a certain nakedness to a point where you can see the world ‣ Really begins with him and Lucien Carr in New York ◦ Neil Cassidy (Comes in later, 1946) - Burroughs's lover for a while ‣ seen as family unit that stuck together in hostile world • Beat - (has a double meaning) downtrodden, people who don't fit under eisenhower suburban ideal ◦ drug users - not for escape, to produce opening in the mind, beyond rationale responsible for the atomic weapons (Ginsberg's definition) ◦ The "Beat" attitude - eastern philosophy ◦ People who felt alienated ◦ many of the beats published in the N " eurotica" "Howl" - Allen Ginsberg • was originally tried for being obscene • Part I ◦ Density - Density of imagery (breaking the rules of grammar to pack as many images in as possible ‣ spontaneity - moving from one of these densely packed sections to another ◦ Begins with "I saw" (An observer) • Part II ◦ feeling disgust/anger towards Moloch does't solve the problem since that's what Moloch thrives on "A Supermarket in California" - Allen Ginsberg (1955) • What role is being portrayed (the individual) ◦ outcast - doesn't belong ◦ sees individuals of the nuclear family as individual pieces of produce • What is the role of Walt Whitman ◦ guide aimlessness, wandering mind ◦ "We strode" - together with the narrator ◦ descriptions - go from negative to positive ‣ "Childless, lonely old grubber, poking"... "eyeing the grocery boys" ‣ "dear father... lonely old courage-teacher" ◦ "Shopping for images" ◦ The narrator "Feels absurd" this though interrupts his questions to Whitman ◦ garcia lorca - another poet, spanish (died in 35) • Lethe - river of forgetfulness


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