The Short Story in Midcentury America

Countercultural Form in the Work of Bowles, McCarthy, Welty and Williams

    Research output: Book/Report typesBookResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The Short Story in Midcentury America provides in-depth case studies of four major writers of the post-World War II era-Paul Bowles, Mary McCarthy, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams-examining how they used the contained aesthetics of short fiction to map out an oppositional stance to the dominant narratives, both political and literary, of mid-twentieth century U.S. culture.

    Sam V. H. Reese presents a new understanding of the connections between politics, ideology, and literary form, arguing that writers employed the short story to critique the cultural mores of the early Cold War. The four authors under discussion found themselves socially marginalized by mainstream U.S. culture due to such factors as their gender, sexual orientation, religion, and foreign residence. Reese shows that each author embraced the short story's compressed form as a means of resisting political coercion and conformity, speaking out in support of freedom and open expression.

    Reese argues that these four writers used the formal restrictions of the short story to develop a type of fiction that became recognizably countercultural, challenging the expansive, sprawling novels then receiving acclaim from critics. His analysis underscores the means by which each author's short stories utilized the aesthetic practices of mediums outside conventional narrative fiction: Bowles's career as a composer, McCarthy's criticism and memoirs, Williams's playwriting, and Welty's photography. By studying both their prose and its conceptualization, Reese reveals how writers resisted the political and stylistic pressures that defined U.S. literary culture in the early years of the Cold War.

    In The Short Story in Midcentury America, Reese establishes a new framework for considering countercultural literature in the United States, reassessing the critical standing of the short story and re-evaluating the relationship between marginal social positions and literary form during the mid-twentieth century.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationBaton Rouge
    PublisherLouisiana State University
    Number of pages224
    ISBN (Print)9780807165768
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2017

    Fingerprint

    Short Story
    Writer
    Aesthetics
    Fiction
    Literary Forms
    Cold
    Literary Culture
    Sexual Orientation
    Acclaim
    Ideology
    Prose
    Playwriting
    Photography
    Religion
    Conventional
    Memoir
    Conceptualization
    Second World War
    Stance
    Eudora Welty

    Keywords

    • Short Story
    • American literature
    • Cold War
    • Paul Bowles
    • Mary McCarthy
    • Eudora Welty
    • Tennessee Williams
    • Literature

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The Short Story in Midcentury America provides in-depth case studies of four major writers of the post-World War II era-Paul Bowles, Mary McCarthy, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams-examining how they used the contained aesthetics of short fiction to map out an oppositional stance to the dominant narratives, both political and literary, of mid-twentieth century U.S. culture.Sam V. H. Reese presents a new understanding of the connections between politics, ideology, and literary form, arguing that writers employed the short story to critique the cultural mores of the early Cold War. The four authors under discussion found themselves socially marginalized by mainstream U.S. culture due to such factors as their gender, sexual orientation, religion, and foreign residence. Reese shows that each author embraced the short story's compressed form as a means of resisting political coercion and conformity, speaking out in support of freedom and open expression.Reese argues that these four writers used the formal restrictions of the short story to develop a type of fiction that became recognizably countercultural, challenging the expansive, sprawling novels then receiving acclaim from critics. His analysis underscores the means by which each author's short stories utilized the aesthetic practices of mediums outside conventional narrative fiction: Bowles's career as a composer, McCarthy's criticism and memoirs, Williams's playwriting, and Welty's photography. By studying both their prose and its conceptualization, Reese reveals how writers resisted the political and stylistic pressures that defined U.S. literary culture in the early years of the Cold War.In The Short Story in Midcentury America, Reese establishes a new framework for considering countercultural literature in the United States, reassessing the critical standing of the short story and re-evaluating the relationship between marginal social positions and literary form during the mid-twentieth century.",
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    The Short Story in Midcentury America : Countercultural Form in the Work of Bowles, McCarthy, Welty and Williams . / Reese, Samuel Vivian.

    Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University, 2017. 224 p.

    Research output: Book/Report typesBookResearchpeer-review

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