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 work helps 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. More recently, he co-edited Neocolonial Fictions of the Global Cold War (Iowa, 2019), a collection of essays that investigate the global Cold War through the framework of neocolonialism. He also co-edited a collection of essays on Cold War literature and culture titled 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 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 has also recently completed The Beats: A Literary History, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.
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.