Paul Goodman (9 September 1911-2 August 1972)

Citation metadata

Author: Ernest J. Smith
Editor: Paul Hansom
Date: 2001
From: Twentieth-Century American Cultural Theorists
Publisher: Gale
Series: Dictionary of Literary Biography
Document Type: Biography
Length: 9,510 words

Main content

Abstract :

When Paul Goodman died in 1972, his obituary in The New York Times noted that the New York Public Library classified his work under twenty-one different categories. A prolific and wide-ranging writer, Goodman nonetheless saw all of his work as being of a piece: "I am a humanist, and everything I do has exactly the same subject-the organism and the environment. Anything I write is pragmatic-it aims to accomplish something. That universities divide my interests into different fields doesn't make them separate in fact." In poetry, short fiction, novels, drama, literary criticism, psychological theory, urban planning, and, most notably, in his educational and cultural theory, he consistently explored the theme of the individual in relation to the larger society, the possibility of free action and creativity within that society, and the duties and responsibilities of being a conscious, engaged citizen. During his lifetime, his poetry and fiction garnered a fair amount of critical response, but his study of the alienated youth of America, Growing Up Absurd'. Problems of Youth in the Organized System (1960), made him both a respected cultural theorist in the mainstream press and a central figure of leftist thought in the 1960s. The reception of this book and his subsequent fame among intellectuals and members of the counterculture (a phrase coined by Theodore Roszak in 1968) led him to largely abandon literary pursuits in favor of social and cultural criticism, and his legacy rests on that work. Goodman was born in Greenwich Village, New York City, on

Source Citation

Source Citation
Smith, Ernest J. "Paul Goodman (9 September 1911-2 August 1972)." Twentieth-Century American Cultural Theorists, edited by Paul Hansom, vol. 246, Gale, 2001, pp. 177-189. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 246. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Gale Document Number: GALE|MZRHFV506143794