Forgotten American Classics (The Orchard)

Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson – we are all familiar with the names in the American literary canon, but, in this ongoing series, Christian Kriticos identifies some lesser-known American writings and argues for their placement among the greats… The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson It’s funny, but I haven’t remembered it for years. And […]

The Poetry of I: Crash Course on Confessional Poetry

What’s Happening In The Late 1950s-60s? Amid such cultural revelations as the Hula Hoop, LEGOs, color television, and Hitchcock’s Psycho, the Confessional poets were pioneering a new writing style during a time of change. From the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” Speech, to the first televised Presidential debates, […]

The Hollywood Censorship of Tennessee Williams

In the early 1930’s, the lack of inhibition which Hollywood filmmakers had enjoyed up to that point came to a screeching halt with the establishment of the Motion Picture Production Code. The Code–colloquially known as the “Hays Code” –was in effect until the ratings system was established in 1968, and strictly regulated motion picture content, […]

Why We Should All Read Sui Sin Far

A century before Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and Gish Jen, Sui Sin Far wrote fictional, autobiographical, and journalistic works that portray Chinese American identities and communities, experiences and worlds, discrimination and successes, with nuance and power. Far, christened Edith Maude Eaton before adopting her Chinese pen name for all her published writings, was born […]

50 States, 50 Novels- Part 4

Kansas – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (1900) An obvious choice perhaps, but L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel truly illuminates the beauty in rural Kansas life, in spite of its seeming dullness compared with the magnificent land of Oz: “No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people […]

Why We Should All Read Charles Chesnutt

When it comes to issues of race, our collective memories of the century between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement focus almost entirely on Jim Crow segregation. Writing from the heart of that largely forgotten period, Charles Chesnutt produced works of fiction that both engage deeply with […]

Boston: The Birthplace of American Literature

Emerson. Thoreau. Longfellow. Hawthorne. James. Alcott. These names bring to mind classic American literature and poetry, long a staple of high school curriculum and dusty library bookshelves. If you haven’t heard of Walden, Little Women, Paul Revere’s Ride, or The Scarlet Letter, you might have missed a few English classes. These authors are considered to […]

Stories Behind Classic Book Covers (The Catcher in the Rye)

Although the old mantra “Don’t judge a book by its cover” would have us believe that exterior artwork is irrelevant to a novel’s contents, the iconic status achieved by some book covers would suggest otherwise. In this ongoing series, Christian Kriticos reveals the stories behind some of the most celebrated book covers in American literature, […]