Capturing America: Mark Lawson’s History of Modern American Literature

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Capturing America: Mark Lawson’s History of Modern American Literature

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Feb 5, 2010, 10:59am

This programme - an eight part series starting next Thursday - looks exciting:

Capturing America: Mark Lawson’s History of Modern American Literature: Thursday 11 February, 11.30am-noon
New series. 1/8. Mark Lawson charts how, from World War II to the present day, novelists, playwrights and poets have tackled the big themes of modern American life. Interviews include Gore Vidal, Toni Morrison, Joseph Heller, August Wilson, Philip Roth, John Grisham, David Mamet, Edward Albee, John Irving, Joyce Carol Oates, EL Doctorow, Chang-Rae Lee, Richard Ford, Tony Kushner, Edmund White, Walter Mosley, Jane Smiley, Joan Didion, Harold Bloom, Elaine Showalter, Nicholson Baker, Don DeLillo, Rita Dove, Neil LaBute, John Ashbery, Armistead Maupin, Stephen King, Junot Diaz, Dave Eggers, Jay McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis, Garrison Keillor and others.

Feb 18, 2010, 6:58am

I listened to the first in this series last week and enjoyed it, especially the snippets of interviews with the authors. The second programme is being broadcast right now and will then be available as usual for seven days.


Mark Lawson explores how American writing became the literary superpower of the 20th century, telling the nation's stories of money, power, sex, religion and war.

Mark considers how America's post-war playwrights - from Tennessee Williams to David Mamet - have challenged political rhetoric about the triumph of capitalism in the USA.

Edward Albee, author of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? reveals his candidate for 'the best American play'. Other interviewees include Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, and the late August Wilson, whose sequence of ten plays about the African-American experience is typical of the structural ambition and political questioning found in so many of the major post-war American plays.

Through the theatres of Broadway, the programme also explores the commercial pressures in America's largely-unsubsidised theatre culture, which have led to several of the nation's greatest playwrights - including Albee, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams - facing long periods of neglect.

Feb 18, 2010, 7:23am

I just listened to the programme about the playwrights.

To go with the series the BBC have put together a number of interviews with various American authors which will remain up permanently. See The American Authors Collection