David Wyatt teaches and writes about twentieth-century American literature, although he sometimes strays across the Atlantic to do essays about Shakespeare or Galsworthy. Born and raised in California, he has also published two books about the history and literature of his native state, The Fall into Eden: Landscape and Imagination in California, and Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California.
In 2010, Wyatt published Secret Histories: Reading Twentieth-Century American Literature. When America Turned: Reckoning with 1968, a book reflecting his ongoing interest in the fate of the Sixties generation, was brought out in 2014. Hemingway, Style, and the Art of Emotion appeared in 2015. Wyatt is currently at work on a memoir called "The Passenger Side.” This project extends the work begun in And the War Came: An Accidental Memoir, published in 2004.
In 2018, Wyatt published an edited volume in a new series from Cambridge. The volume was called American Literature in Transition: 1960-1970 and contained essays by twenty-three different hands. contributiosnfrom twenty-three scholars entit
In 1999, Wyatt was named a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar-Teacher.
"More Time: Reading Hemingway's Across the River and into the Trees"
Across the River and Into the Trees consists of two swerves: away from the opening duck shoot in chapter 1, and into an art of expressed emotion.
"Robert Frost and the Work of Retelling"
Despite subsequent interventions by readers as “strenuous”—it is Poirier’s word—as William Pritchard, Katherine Kearns, and Mark Richardson, the assumption persists.
When America Turned: Reckoning With 1968
Much has been written about the seismic shifts in American culture and politics during the 1960s. Yet for all the analysis of that turbulent era, its legacy remains unclear.
Much has been written about the seismic shifts in American culture and politics during the 1960s. Yet for all the analysis of that turbulent era, its legacy remains unclear. In this elegantly written book, David Wyatt offers a fresh perspective on the decade by focusing on the pivotal year of 1968. He takes as his point of departure the testimony delivered by returning veteran John Kerry before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1971, as he imagined a time in the future when the word “Vietnam” would mean “the place where America finally turned.” But turning from what, to what—and for better or for worse?
Wyatt explores these questions as he retraces the decisive moments of 1968—the Tet Offensive, the McCarthy campaign, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the student revolt at Columbia, the “police riot” at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, Lyndon Johnson’s capitulation, and Richard Nixon’s ascendency to power. Seeking to recover the emotions surrounding these events as well as analyze their significance, Wyatt draws on the insights of what Michael Herr has called “straight” and “secret” histories. The first category consists of work by professional historians, traditional journalists, public figures, and political operatives, while the second includes the writings of novelists, poets, New Journalists, and memoirists.
The aim of this parallel approach is to uncover two kinds of truth: a “scholarly truth” grounded in the documented past and an “imaginative truth” that occupies the more ambiguous realm of meaning. Only by reckoning with both, Wyatt believes, can Americans come to understand the true legacy of the 1960s.
Secret Histories: Reading Twentieth Century American Literature
Secret Histories claims that the history of the nation is hidden -- in plain sight -- within the pages of twentieth-century American literature.
Secret Histories claims that the history of the nation is hidden -- in plain sight -- within the pages of twentieth-century American literature. David Wyatt argues that the nation's fiction and nonfiction expose a "secret history" that cuts beneath the "straight histories" of our official accounts. And it does so by revealing personal stories of love, work, family, war, and interracial romance as they were lived out across the decades of the twentieth century.
Wyatt reads authors both familiar and neglected, examining "double consciousness" in the post--Civil War era through works by Charles W. Chesnutt, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington. He reveals aspects of the Depression in the fiction of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Anzia Yezierska, and John Steinbeck. Period by period, Wyatt's nuanced readings recover the felt sense of life as it was lived, opening surprising dimensions of the critical issues of a given time. The rise of the women's movement, for example, is revivified in new appraisals of works by Eudora Welty, Ann Petry, and Mary McCarthy.
Running through the examination of individual works and times is Wyatt's argument about reading itself. Reading is not a passive activity but an empathetic act of cocreation, what Faulkner calls "overpassing to love." Empathetic reading recognizes and relives the emotional, cultural, and political dimensions of an individual and collective past. And discovering a usable American past, as Wyatt shows, enables us to confront the urgencies of our present moment.
"LA Fiction through Mid-Century"
Upton Sinclair's Oil! (1927) begins as a dream of speed. Sinclair calls his opening chapter “The Ride” and bases it on a trip he and his wife Craig took with a big oilman who wanted to buy two lots they owned on Signal Hill, near Long Beach.
"September 11 and Postmodern Memory"
A number of our most venerable writers have been drawn in; we have September 11 novels by John Updike, Philip Roth, Ward Just, Reynolds Price, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo.
And the War Came: An Accidental Memoir
On the day of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a man begins writing down things said by his family and friends.
On the day of the September 11 terrorist attacks, a man begins writing down things said by his family and friends. This elegantly understated memoir explores how the events of September 11 affected one family. It records thoughts, feelings, and interactions as David Wyatt reflects on his own emotions and those around him that unforgettable autumn.
Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California
In this wholly original study, Wyatt uses the metaphor of fire to tell the story of California.
In this wholly original study, Wyatt uses the metaphor of fire to tell the story of California. Wyatt focuses on this catastrophic history of his native state on five events of social combustion and tangible fire that swept through California, altering its physical and political landscape and the way both were represented in art and literature. Wyatt begins with the accidental importation and spread of the wild oat in the 1770s, a process that had its human parallel in the Spanish invaders. He then explores the impact of four other significant events: the Gold Rush, the 1906 earthquake and fire, and the post-World War II defense-industry boom, and the fire of race that erupted in Watts in 1965. From the the journals of a Gold Camp mineress to Amy Tan's novels, from Ansel Adams's photography to Roman Polanski's films, Wyatt brings into dialogue a wide range of powerful, moving voices.