The other great shift
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As for the "how", Gioia is persuasive in saying the time was right, and technology allowed American English to be heard by a far more widespread audience than before: in geography, but also in time (since recorded voice meant the audience did not have to be at the performance itself.) As for the time being right, there's this:
Cowley noted that the new American style “has freed many writers—not only novelists but poets and essayists and simple reporters—from a burden of erudition and affectation that they thought was part of the writer’s equipment. It has encouraged them to write as simply as possible about the things they really feel, instead of the things they think that other people think they ought to feel.”
This is the first I've heard of this argument, I'm curious whether it's generally accepted or is considered controversial.