American Modernism

While my research interests are broad, I find myself most drawn to study of American modernist literature, which was written during a period spanning roughly the first half of the twentieth century.  Examples of American authors of this period include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner. The modern period is a fascinating bridge between America’s colonial and civil war era past and its future as the country grappled with the ramifications of industrialization, an increasingly complex system of government regulation, and a growing involvement in global affairs. America would have to cope with the lingering consequences of the civil war, two world wars, and the great depression as it turned toward the future. Study of this crucial period can provide important insight into how the heritage of America’s founding has persisted through changes to the American way of life unlike anything the founders could have foreseen.

Intersecting with my interest in this period is an interest in the development of the legal principles and systems the country would inherit from its colonial past and transform to meet the demands of an industrialized nation. The modern period was also an important era of technical innovation in literature as authors sought new modes of expression. Ernest Hemingway’s minimalist style and gritty realism, for instance, has had a crucial impact on contemporary authors like Cormac McCarthy and Jay McInerney. The intersection between a rapidly changing legal system, technological innovation, american idealism, the drive for new expression, the tribulations of an industrializing society, and the aspirations and realities of ordinary individuals caught in a turning point between the past and the present makes the modernist period an intriguing era for study.