American Literature and the Cold War Consensus

Autumn 2016-2017


Kenneth Warren

In this course we will revisit the so-called “Cold War consensus”—the apparent convergence in American literary, political, and intellectual thought on what one scholar terms “the central belief that the liberal, democratic, capitalist order of the United States represented a more open and humane society than that of the Communist states—in order to in order to assess the role of literature (and various scholarly accounts of that role) in creating or contesting that consensus. Our main texts will be a select group of novels, many of which were published within a few years of one another in the early 1950s, but we will also draw on a variety of other texts, either from that period or focused on it. (20th/21st)