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.
Ronald Baughman is an Associate Professor in the University of South Carolina's College of Applied Professional Sciences, where in 1978 he was named Distinguished Teacher of the year.