Understanding Contemporary American Literature was planned as a series of guides or companions for students as well as good nonacademic readers. The word understanding in the series titles was deliberately chosen. Many willing readers lack an adequate understanding of how contemporary literature works: that is, what the author is attempting to express and the means by which it is conveyed. These volumes provide instruction in how to read certain contemporary writers—identifying and explicating their material, themes, use of language, point of view, structures, symbolism, and responses to experience.
Matthew C. Roudané is Assistant Professor of English at Georgia State University in Atlanta, where he teaches modern drama and American literature. His work has appeared in such journals as American Literature, Contemporary Literature, and the Michigan Quarterly Review.