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American Literature After 1900

Penn State is the historic home of American literature in higher education; in the early twentieth century, Fred Lewis Pattee became the first English professor in the country to teach classes exclusively devoted to US literary works. The Americanist faculty at Penn State aim to be similarly ground-breaking.

Recent Grad Courses

  • Expatriate Modernisms
  • American Modernism and the “New Woman”
  • American Modernism, American Primitivism
  • The Texts of Modernist American Poetry
  • Modernist Little Magazines
  • Kay Boyle and Ernest Hemingway, Modernist Duet
  • The American Literary Memoir
  • Satire and the New Black Aesthetic in Contemporary African American Literature
  • Black Cosmopolitanism: Ellison and Johnson
  • Contemporary Fiction

Center for American Literary Studies

The Penn State Center for American Literary Studies, dedicated to supporting the study, teaching, and reading of American literatures, is quickly becoming a leading national center; it offers exceptional research and fellowship opportunities for faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. CALS sponsored and hosted the inaugural conference of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, for example. Visit the CALS website at

People specializing in this area

Tenure-Line Faculty

Kevin Bell

New York University, Ph.D, Comparative Literature 2000 The point of departure for Kevin Bell's work is the study of philosophical aesthetics, as shaped by particular moments in a conceptual (dis)continuum traversing German Idealism, Afro-diasporic radical traditions in art, critique and political thought, and post-Debordian analysis of everyday consumption and creativity. His research crosses a number of disciplinary zones, particularly trans-Atlantic literary modernisms; Black American music, literature and film; deconstructive aesthetic and cultural theory; and experimental traditions in filmmaking. He is the author of Ashes Taken for Fire: Aesthetic Modernism and the Critique of Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2007). He is working now on an interpretive study entitled Drift Velocities: the Aesthetic Curve of Radical Black Film and Literature.

Kit Hume

My interest lies in writers since 1960. My most recent book was on Aggressive American Fiction, and the one I'm currently working on concerns contemporary uses of mythology.

Aldon Lynn Nielsen

Particularly poetry and poetics, the history of American verse, contemporary literature, literature and the other arts

Benjamin Schreier

Post-1900 American literature and culture; Jewish American literature and culture; Ethnic literature; Intellectuals and culture; Narrative nonfiction; Literary history

Linda Furgerson Selzer

19th century literature, contemporary literature