Read through the following about literature in the modern era. (since 1945)
Literature and American Media
New media developed after World War II competed with traditional forms of writing but also enriched and transformed literature. Media theorist Marshall McLuhan argued that “the media is the message” and drew new attention to forms of transmission as being of equal importance to the content transmitted.
The television brought disturbing images and news into millions of homes, challenging viewers to do more than passively receive broadcast messages.
Avant-garde theater demanded that audience members create art, rather than simply consume it, doing away with the fourth wall—or the separation between audience and actors—in an increasing number of productions. Similarly, reality TV provides the illusion of art or entertainment arising from the everyday lives of ordinary people.
Poets also sought to make their art participatory, rather than an object of passive consumption. Poets read their work out loud, emphasizing emotion, improvisation, and musicality.
Fiction was also read out loud, but more often it was adapted into Hollywood films and television series.
Experiment and Play in Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Literature
The term “postmodern” has been used to represent a variety of ideas and styles. Many agree that postmodern life and literature is fragmented, a babble of multiple voices that leaves the reader in ambiguity and uncertainty; the postmodern invites a range of interpretations.
Postmodern poetry is playful, refusing to refer in predictable ways to the material world. Its meanings are elusive, and readers are encouraged to appreciate other aspects of the poem—sound, color, feeling, connotations.
The realism of the nineteenth century has given way, since 1945, to confessional poetry and unvarnished autobiography, language recounting banal experiences unabashedly.
Even as writers attempt to stir readers’ affections, they always hold something in reserve and write satirically, ironically.
Today literature is defined by both massive production—over 60,000 novels are published each year—and a diffuse, global readership familiar with a variety of English usages. The scale of production necessarily creates a fragmented audience; not everyone can read the same books.
The rise of the Internet and digital culture has also made English and English literature ubiquitous. The Web privileges some forms of literature (narratives broken into short, scrollable chapters or sections, for instance) and is shaping the future of literature.
Final Exam Essay Question:
Write a short essay (about 425 to 750 words) explaining how you see literature in the future. Use the questions here to assist your thought process.
Thinking about what was included in your textbook, what do you think literature will look like in the future?
What themes will emerge in the future? Why?
How will writers maintain literary quality? (if it is still to be)
What current works that you (from 2015 to today) would you include in a new literary canon? Give reasons.
How will works be published?
Will there be value in a printed book? Explain.