Mining for meaning: A study of minimalism in american literature



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This dissertation presents a series of readings that exemplify a wide range of important minimalist techniques in American literature. The study stems from my interest in the works of Cormac McCarthy, and particularly the question of both how and why McCarthy has developed into the highly minimalist author that he is today. My initial plan was to propose a book length study on McCarthy’s latest minimalist works, but my research on other minimalist writers, particularly Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel soon revealed that the technique of minimalism, and particularly how minimalist characteristics can influence and heighten a reader’s understanding of a story, should also be examined in this study. I have included a chapter on works by Hemingway to trace the early roots of literary minimalism, and a chapter on Carver to outline many of the important minimalist trademarks found in works written during the highpoint of American minimalism. The chapters on Hempel and McCarthy, two contemporary writers that have published a number of noteworthy minimalist stories in the past few years, bring this study into the present day.



Minimalism, American literature, Hemingway, Ernest, Carver, Raymond, Hempel, Amy, McCarthy, Cormac