Steven Belletto is Professor of English at Lafayette College. His scholarship focuses on the broad intersections between aesthetics and politics in post-1945 U.S. literatures. A scholar of mid-century cultural and literary studies, his first two books helped reframe how we understand “Cold War literature.” His monograph, No Accident, Comrade: Chance and Design in Cold War American Narratives (Oxford, 2012), argues that chance became a conflicted cultural signifier during the Cold War, and shows how a range of writers innovated strategies for dealing with chance in their work. He also co-edited a collection of new essays, American Literature and Culture in an Age of Cold War: A Critical Reassessment (Iowa, 2012).
In addition to Cold War literary and cultural studies, Belletto is interested in rethinking the significance of the writers associated with the Beat Movement. To this end, he has recently edited The Cambridge Companion to the Beats (Cambridge, 2017), which brings together some of the best literary critics writing on the Beats to offer fresh reevaluations of their work. He is currently writing a literary history of the Beats that takes a wide-angle view of the movement and its literary and cultural significance; this volume will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2019.
Beyond his work focusing specifically on the Beats, Belletto has helped to revise our understanding of mid-century American literature by editing American Literature in Transition, 1950-1960 (Cambridge, 2018), a volume that challenges staid conceptions of that decade’s literature. His essays concerning post-war literature and culture, on topics as varied as “Korean War literature,” “alternative civil rights literatures,” “the game theory narrative,” and antifascist aesthetics, have appeared in wide variety of journals, including American Literature, American Quarterly, ELH, Twentieth-Century Literature, Criticism, Clio, American Studies, Genre, and Nabokov Studies.
At Lafayette College, Belletto teaches courses that explore U.S. literatures and cultures during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In addition to introductory courses in English and American Studies, he regularly offers courses that mix canonical with under-studied texts and figures on a range of topics, including American fiction in a transnational context; Cold War literature and culture; histories of the American novel; postmodernism; aesthetics; the Beats; and contemporary fiction.
He is an editor for the journal Contemporary Literature.