Uncategorized | April 07, 2004

This entry is going to be more of a question than anything else, so feel free to respond. My professor for my English class on the Harlem Renaissance suggested that perhaps the biggest original contribution the United States has made to “culture” or “high culture” is jazz music. Almost every art form, he proposed, has its roots in European culture. Jazz music, on the other hand, originated in this country and was unlike anything that came before it. He argued that during the Victorian era, Americans had an affinity for anything European and strove to emulate European musicians, artists, and writers.

This argument led me to wonder what original contribution the United States has made in the realm of literature. Is today’s “literary fiction” markedly different from European literature? One could argue that some genre fiction certainly is. The western novel is distinctly American and derived from our history and culture. But what about literary fiction? What original contribution has the United States made to literature?