Beyond Literary Landscapes—The Lost Generation

From my early beginnings as a young introvert, the public library has always been a bit of a refuge.  Years later, not much has changed, albeit with an additional affinity for endless hours spent scouring second-hand bookstores to add to my ever-growing “to-read” pile.

From one bookworm to another, this column will be underscoring and outlining various literary genres, authors, and recent reads and can serve as an introduction for those unfamiliar with these works, as a refresher for long-time aficionados, and maybe as an inspiration for readers to share their own suggested topics.  Do you have a topic that you would like covered in this column?  Feel free to contact me for an interview and a feature in an upcoming column.


Closely related to the recently discussed Modernism and American Literature, this week’s column focuses on what has been termed, The Lost Generation.

The Lost Generation can be defined as “a group of American writers who came of age during World War I and established their literary reputations in the 1920s.”

They were believed to be lost because their “inherited values were no longer relevant in the postwar world and because of [their] spiritual alienation from …  [the] United States.”

Lost Generation authors include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and E. E. Cummings.  Other authors to consider are T.S Eliot and Gertrude Stein.


Some examples of Lost Generation works include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, and Tulips and Chimneys by E. E. Cummings.


These works are set throughout the United States.


Many of these works take place during the 20-century.


The abovementioned novels and poems may be of interest to AU students who would like to learn more about the general attitudes following the First World War, including disillusionment, shattered ideals, decadence, and hedonism.  The works can also serve as an introduction to the wider genre of American Literature and Modernism in general.


AU’s wide range of diverse courses make it easy to study this topic in depth.  Courses related to The Lost Generation are available in a variety of disciplines, including one’s that may fit into your Degree Works.  (Always check with an AU counsellor to see if these particular courses fulfill your personal graduation requirements!)

AU students interested in learning more about this topic may enroll in HIST 235: History of the United States, Civil War to Present, a junior-level, three-credit course, which “focuses on the themes of freedom, domination, resistance and change, and fully engages in a range of subjects pertinent to modern US history.”  (This course does not require prerequisites.).

Students may also be interested in ENGL 344: American Literature I, a senior-level, three-credit course, which focuses on “works that would set the stage for the entry of the United States into the literary world of the twentieth century.”  (Note that prerequisites are required for this curse, including ENGL 211: Prose Forms and ENGL 212: Poetry and Plays or a first-year ENGL course).  Happy reading!