Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Mary Jo Reiff

Committee Members



The purpose ofthis study was to examine the historical and social factors that influenced American intellectual life in the 1950s, and to apply these broader, cultural influences to case studies on two American writers working in the 1950s: J. D. Salinger and Ayn Rand. Research involved diverse readings in biography and literary criticism concerning the two authors as well as interpretation ofthe authors' works themselves.

Despite having opposing philosophical, aesthetic, and intellectual ideals, J. D. Salinger and Ayn Rand typify the position ofthe intellectual in the 1950s because they share the conflicting needs ofacceptance and superiority. While the two authors define intelligence in radically different ways, both attempt to escape the existential crisis of post-war life by offering solutions to the intellectuals' unique dilemma that emphasize intellectuals' roles as artists and economic producers.

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