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Ch 12: Literature of the Contemporary Period: Help and Review

About This Chapter

The literature of the contemporary period chapter of this American Literature Help and Review course is the simplest way to master literature of the contemporary period. This chapter uses simple and fun videos that are about five minutes long, plus lesson quizzes and a chapter exam to ensure students learn the essentials of literature of the contemporary period.

Who's it for?

Anyone who needs help learning or mastering American literature material will benefit from taking this course. There is no faster or easier way to learn American literature. Among those who would benefit are:

  • Students who have fallen behind in understanding major works, writers and themes in literature of the contemporary period
  • Students who struggle with learning disabilities or learning differences, including autism and ADHD
  • Students who prefer multiple ways of learning American literature (visual or auditory)
  • Students who have missed class time and need to catch up
  • Students who need an efficient way to learn about literature of the contemporary period
  • Students who struggle to understand their teachers
  • Students who attend schools without extra American literature learning resources

How it works:

  • Find videos in our course that cover what you need to learn or review.
  • Press play and watch the video lesson.
  • Refer to the video transcripts to reinforce your learning.
  • Test your understanding of each lesson with short quizzes.
  • Verify you're ready by completing the Literature of the Contemporary Period chapter exam.

Why it works:

  • Study Efficiently: Skip what you know, review what you don't.
  • Retain What You Learn: Engaging animations and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
  • Be Ready on Test Day: Use the Literature of the Contemporary Period chapter exam to be prepared.
  • Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any literature of the contemporary period question. They're here to help!
  • Study With Flexibility: Watch videos on any web-ready device.

Students will review:

In this chapter, you'll learn the answers to questions including:

  • Who are some major contemporary authors?
  • What are some major modern literary works?
  • What are some of Arthur Miller's and Tennessee Williams' major plays?
  • Who are Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison?
  • What is unique to the work of Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs?
  • What is unique to the work of women writers like Maya Angelou and Sandra Cisneros?

53 Lessons in Chapter 12: Literature of the Contemporary Period: Help and Review
The Contemporary Period in American Literature

1. The Contemporary Period in American Literature

Learn about how Contemporary literature developed and understand its fundamental characteristics. Find out how American history and cultural norms really defined and developed the Contemporary period in American literature.

Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

2. Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

This lesson helps you decipher pieces of contemporary American literature by looking at famous examples from some of the greatest authors of the time.

Tennessee Williams: Biography, Works, and Style

3. Tennessee Williams: Biography, Works, and Style

This lesson provides insight into the life, work and style of one of the most influential playwrights of our time, Tennessee Williams. His major works include 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.'

A Streetcar Named Desire: Summary and Analysis

4. A Streetcar Named Desire: Summary and Analysis

Learn about the controversial play 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' why it was so controversial, and why it is still considered a classic piece of American literature.

The Glass Menagerie: Summary and Analysis

5. The Glass Menagerie: Summary and Analysis

Tennessee Williams' first big hit, 'The Glass Menagerie,' known as the memory play, fascinated audiences for its presentation of one man's vision of his past. This lesson will go into the basic plot of this story, as well as explore the major symbols and elements of style in the play.

Arthur Miller: Biography and Major Plays

6. Arthur Miller: Biography and Major Plays

In this lesson, we will talk about the life of one of America's greatest playwrights, Arthur Miller. We will take a close look at his role in the American political scene of the 1950s and give insight into some of his most influential works.

Arthur Miller's The Crucible: Summary and Quotes

7. Arthur Miller's The Crucible: Summary and Quotes

What's Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible' all about? Witches! Communists! Allegories! It's the Red Scare of the McCarthy era as told through the metaphor of the Salem witch trials of colonial America.

Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

8. Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

In 'Death of a Salesman,' Willy Loman just can't catch a break. And if the title is an indicator, things won't end well. In this lesson, we'll look at Arthur Miller's 1949 masterpiece about a salesman and his family.

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man Summary and Analysis

9. Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man Summary and Analysis

If people only see you as a part of a race, and not as an individual, are you still a person? In this lesson, we'll analyze Ralph Ellison's important and critically acclaimed novel, 'Invisible Man.'

Richard Wright's Black Boy: Summary and Analysis

10. Richard Wright's Black Boy: Summary and Analysis

After his fiction masterpiece 'Native Son,' Richard Wright wrote a deeply personal and moving autobiography, covering his childhood in the South and his life as an adult in Chicago. In this lesson, we'll explore 'Black Boy.'

J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: Summary and Analysis

11. J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye: Summary and Analysis

J.D. Salinger's novel tells the story of Holden Caulfield, a literary figure you'll either love or hate. Watch this video to find out which camp you fall into!

The Beat Generation: Characteristics of Beat Poetry

12. The Beat Generation: Characteristics of Beat Poetry

It's a movement that began with a howl, and it had a major impact on both poetry and culture in America. In this lesson, we'll cover the Beat Generation and review the defining characteristics of their style.

Jack Kerouac: On the Road and Other Works

13. Jack Kerouac: On the Road and Other Works

Jack Kerouac didn't just name the Beat Generation, for many people, he defines it. In this lesson, we'll explore 'On the Road, his seminal work, while also reviewing his biography and other notable novels.

William S. Burroughs: Biography, Writings, and Style of a Beat

14. William S. Burroughs: Biography, Writings, and Style of a Beat

Writer, traveler, collaborator, painter, addict, icon...the labels that describe William S. Burroughs never stop. In this lesson, we'll look at the life and writings of the member of the Beat generation who gave us 'Naked Lunch' and much more.

Edward Albee: The Zoo Story & Theatre of the Absurd

15. Edward Albee: The Zoo Story & Theatre of the Absurd

Edward Albee's 'The Zoo Story' may not have a zoo, but there's definitely a story, at least a story of sorts. In this lesson, we'll explore this example of the Theatre of the Absurd.

Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Poetry

16. Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Poetry

'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' is the autobiography of American poet Maya Angelou. While the story is often difficult to read, it shows how a strong person can overcome difficult obstacles and achieve great things. Learn more about the inspiring life story of one of the country's greatest writers.

Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street Summary and Analysis

17. Sandra Cisneros: The House on Mango Street Summary and Analysis

What is life like for a young Chicana girl growing up in a patriarchal Latino neighborhood in Chicago? Find out in this exploration of Sandra Cisneros' 1984 novel, 'The House on Mango Street.'

12 Angry Men & Social Psychology

18. 12 Angry Men & Social Psychology

What happens when 12 people are locked in a room until they make a unanimous decision? In this lesson, we will explore the play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose and the psychological dynamics at work in the heated jury room.

A Lesson Before Dying by Gaines: Characters & Summary

19. A Lesson Before Dying by Gaines: Characters & Summary

A Lesson Before Dying is a novel about the deeply seated racial prejudice and hatred running rampant in the rural south during the 1940s. However, it is also a story about family, community, and the dignity that all of us as humans have, whatever color our skin happens to be.

Summary of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns

20. Summary of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns

In this lesson, we will explore the plot details of ''A Thousand Splendid Suns'' by Khaled Hosseini. We will discuss the individual stories of Mariam and Laila, and what happens to their lives after they meet.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: Summary & Analysis

21. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: Summary & Analysis

This lesson provides an overview of Erik Larson's 2003 book 'The Devil in the White City', including a summary, an analysis of the book's structure, and a discussion of the real-life individuals and events at the heart of the story.

A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat: Summary, Symbolism & Analysis

22. A Wall of Fire Rising by Edwidge Danticat: Summary, Symbolism & Analysis

This lesson will discuss A Wall of Fire Rising, a short story in Edwidge Danticat's collection titled Krik? Krak! First, we will summarize the plot, then analyze its symbolism and themes.

After the Fall by Arthur Miller: Summary & Analysis

23. After the Fall by Arthur Miller: Summary & Analysis

In this lesson you'll read about Arthur Miller's intensely introspective play After the Fall. Following the summary is a brief analysis revealing the theme of the play, and how it contains actual people and events from the life of the playwright.

Alma Flor Ada: Biography, Books & Poems

24. Alma Flor Ada: Biography, Books & Poems

In this lesson, you will learn about the academic and literary career of Alma Flor Ada, a highly respected bilingual poet, educator, and children's book author. You will then take a quiz to test your understanding.

American Feminist Literature: Definition & Characteristics

25. American Feminist Literature: Definition & Characteristics

Welcome to the world of American feminist literature! Meet a few well-known American feminist writers. Learn their histories and what inspired them. Read on to learn more about this fascinating genre!

Author Heather Graham: Biography & Books

26. Author Heather Graham: Biography & Books

Author Heather Graham is a popular novelist specializing in romance, mystery, and paranormal thrillers. She has published more than 150 novels since the early 1980s.

Beverly Cleary: Biography, Books & Facts

27. Beverly Cleary: Biography, Books & Facts

Beverly Cleary is one of the most recognizable and successful names in children's literature. Learn more about Beverly Cleary, her works, and test your understanding through a quiz.

Bill Wallace: Biography & Books

28. Bill Wallace: Biography & Books

William Bill Wallace was an American children's author and educator. At the end of this lesson, you will have a better grasp of who Bill Wallace was and his successful writing career and you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

Carolyn Keene: Biography, Books & Facts

29. Carolyn Keene: Biography, Books & Facts

In this lesson, you'll learn about the original ghostwriter behind the pseudonym Carolyn Keene, the author of the much beloved children's mystery series Nancy Drew, as well as a brief history of the series as a whole.

Dan Brown: Biography & Books

30. Dan Brown: Biography & Books

Dan Brown is a best-selling author who writes thrilling novels involving secrets and conspiracies. But where does he get his inspiration? Read on to learn more about these suspenseful novels and the man who writes them.

Post-Apocalyptic Literature: Definition & Books

31. Post-Apocalyptic Literature: Definition & Books

Video games, movies, television--post-apocalyptic literature is right under our noses, and you might not have even realized it! Before you start prepping the bunker, you'll want to check out this lesson, where you'll learn more about this often worriedly realistic genre and get to explore some post-apocalyptic scenarios!

Sandra Cisneros: Biography & Poems

32. Sandra Cisneros: Biography & Poems

This lesson will explore the life and poetry of Sandra Cisneros, a contemporary Latina writer. We'll consider her work, experiences, themes, and impact as a writer.

Satire in Catch 22

33. Satire in Catch 22

In Joseph Heller's novel Catch 22, he takes the reader on an unforgettable, engaging, and emotional journey through the extended and expert use of satire. Read on to learn more.

Louise Hay: Books, Quotes & Biography

34. Louise Hay: Books, Quotes & Biography

Learn about the life and works of self-help and motivational author Louise Hay. Explore the spiritual, philosophical and psychological underpinnings of 'New Thought' and 'Religious Science.'

Mythical Creatures Guide: Names & Types

35. Mythical Creatures Guide: Names & Types

Throughout history, mythical creatures have populated stories from around the globe. Through this lesson, you will explore some of those creatures and gain insight into possible explanations for their presence.

Figurative Language in The Hunger Games

36. Figurative Language in The Hunger Games

In ''The Hunger Games'' by Suzanne Collins, figurative language is used to help the reader feel like part of the story. In this lesson, we will learn more about the types of figurative language that are used in this novel.

Figurative Language in The Book Thief

37. Figurative Language in The Book Thief

Figurative language infiltrates this tale of a young girl who has been sent to live with another family because of the political ideologies of her father during World War II. Let's learn more about the figurative language that is used in ''The Book Thief'' by Markus Zusak.

Figurative Language in The House on Mango Street

38. Figurative Language in The House on Mango Street

In this lesson, you'll learn about various types of figurative language in Sandra Cisneros' novella, ''The House on Mango Street.'' Additionally, you'll discover how these examples of figurative language add depth to the text.

The Ugly Duckling: Summary, Characters & Author

39. The Ugly Duckling: Summary, Characters & Author

'The Ugly Duckling' is one of Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen's most famous fairytales. With a powerful message about self-image and acceptance, the story is valued for its ability to teach children the importance of kindness to others. This lesson gives you a brief plot summary and analysis, discusses the story's major characters, and finishes with a quiz to test your knowledge.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Summary

40. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Summary

In 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief' by Rick Riordan, a trouble-making twelve-year-old boy discovers that he is the son of the Greek god, Poseidon. It is up to him to save the world from an impending war between the gods.

Across the Wide Dark Sea Vocabulary

41. Across the Wide Dark Sea Vocabulary

A little boy and his family are traveling to a new land in ''Across the Wide Dark Sea.'' As we read their story of a trip to an ''unknown'' land, knowing more about the vocabulary terms can help us travel with them. This lesson will look a bit more at those terms.

House of Leaves: Book Summary & Quotes

42. House of Leaves: Book Summary & Quotes

In this lesson, we will explore quotes and characters from Mark Danielewski's novel ~'House of Leaves.~' We will learn about the novel's story and themes. Then, we will discover some of the author's inspirations for writing.

John Sinclair: Biography & Poetry

43. John Sinclair: Biography & Poetry

John Sinclair is a poet and a civil rights activist who established the White Panther Party in support of civil rights. This lesson will introduce you to both his background and to his poetry.

Personification in The Book Thief

44. Personification in The Book Thief

This lesson discusses personification, giving human characteristics to non-human objects, in 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak. We will discuss specific personification examples from the book, including the personification of death as the narrator of the story, which is central to 'The Book Thief'.

Maurice Sendak: Biography & Works

45. Maurice Sendak: Biography & Works

Best known for his ~'Wild Things~', author and illustrator Maurice Sendak was a force to be reckoned with in children's literature. In this lesson, we'll take a look at his life and his works.

Leo Lionni: Biography & Books

46. Leo Lionni: Biography & Books

Leo Lionni didn't just write books for children, but books for the child in all of us. In this lesson, we'll learn more about this immigrant illustrator and author's life, and review a few of his most popular and celebrated works.

Mem Fox: Biography & Books

47. Mem Fox: Biography & Books

Australia's highly regarded picture book author, Mem Fox, is a highly accomplished author for both children and adults. This lesson gives a brief biography and lists her most popular books.

Robert Munsch: Biography & Books

48. Robert Munsch: Biography & Books

What do a paper bag princess, smelly socks and a mud puddle have in common? One very clever children's author named Robert Munsch. In this lesson, we'll explore this storyteller's life and his writing.

What is Contemporary Literature? - Definition & Writing Style

49. What is Contemporary Literature? - Definition & Writing Style

When we talk about literature, there are myriad ways to define, describe and label the content. When we talk about contemporary literature, we are describing writing during a specific time period. Read on to learn about contemporary literature and what that label entails.

Examples of Morals & Life Lessons in Fairy Tales

50. Examples of Morals & Life Lessons in Fairy Tales

Fairy tales can not only transport us to faraway kingdoms, but teach us important lessons. In this study, we'll examine some popular fairy tales, the morals they present and what we can learn from reading them.

A Tiger in the House Summary

51. A Tiger in the House Summary

In this lesson we will take a look at a summary of a fictional short story by Indian author Ruskin Bond. This well-known short story is titled 'A Tiger in the House.'

Paper Towns: Book Summary & Quotes

52. Paper Towns: Book Summary & Quotes

This lesson explores the plot of John Green's 'Paper Towns' through quotes from the novel. We will learn about themes of connection and alienation, character conflicts, revenge plots, and mysteries yet to be solved.

Henry Miller Short Stories

53. Henry Miller Short Stories

Henry Miller, a famous and controversial writer, was known for his provocative books and taboo subject matter. His collections of short stories stays true to his unique form of writing. This lesson will examine these shorter works, giving a brief introduction to what is included in each collection.

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