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American Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism

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Title: American Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism


1
American Regionalism, Realism, and Naturalism
  • 1860-1920(ish)

2
What is Realism?
  • A faithful representation of reality in
    literature, also known as verisimilitude (the
    appearance of truth, the quality of truth)
  • Emphasis on development of believable characters.
  • Written in natural vernacular, or dialect.
  • Prominent from 1860-1890.

3
Realism
  • Realism sought to portray life as faithfully and
    accurately as possible, focusing on ordinary
    people suffering the harsh realties of everyday
    life. It depicts ordinary people coping with
    everyday realities.
  • Authors included Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith
    Wharton, Willa Cather, and Dunbar
  • The Literature
  • Presented life objectively
  • Favored science and technology
  • Found meaning in the mundane
  • Focused on socials ills and social conflict

4
Elements of Realism
  • Rejection of the idealized, larger-than-life hero
    of Romantic Literature
  • Detailed depiction of ordinary characters and
    realistic events
  • Emphasis on characters from cities and lower
    classes
  • Avoidance of the exotic, sensational, and overly
    dramatic
  • Use of everyday speech patterns to reveal class
    distinctions
  • Focus on the ethical struggles and social issues
    of real-life situations
  • Sought to explain why ordinary people behave the
    way they do

5
Realist Writers
  • Mark Twain
  • William Dean Howells
  • Henry James
  • Edgar Lee Masters

6
Why did Realism develop?
  • The Civil War
  • The urbanization and industrialization of America
  • As a reaction to Romanticism
  • Increasing rates of democracy and literacy
  • The emerging middle class
  • Upheaval and social change in the latter half of
    the 19th century

7
What is Regionalism?
  • Often called local color.
  • Focuses on characters, dialect, customs,
    topography, and other features specific to a
    certain region (eg. the South)
  • Coincided with Realism and sharing many of the
    same traits.
  • Prominent from 1865-1895.

8
Regionalist Writers
  • Kate ChopinSouth
  • Mary E. Wilkins-FreemanNew England
  • Mark TwainWest
  • Willa CatherMidwest

9
Why did Regionalism develop?
  • Dual influence of Romanticism and Realism
  • The Civil War and the building of a national
    identity
  • An outgrowth of realism with more focus on a
    particular setting and its influence over
    characters

10
What is Naturalism?
  • Applied scientific principles of objectivity and
    detachment to the study of human beings.
  • Influenced by Darwinism (natural selection) and
    psychology (Freud)
  • Posited that individuals were governed by
    heredity and environment.
  • Often depict man in conflict with nature,
    society, or himself.
  • Prominent from 1880-1920(ish)

11
Naturalism-Focuses on peoples helplessness in
the face of chance
  • Sought to portray ordinary peoples lives, but
    suggested that environment, heredity, and chance,
    or forces they could neither understand nor
    control, determined peoples fate.
  • Authors included Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin,
    Theodore Dreiser, Jack London
  • Mans destiny was determined by heredity and
    natural selection, society, psychological
    impulses, and economic class
  • Created the representative, not the actual

12
Naturalism
  • Influenced by emerging disciplines of psychology
    and sociology
  • Attempt to analyze human behavior objectively, as
    a scientist would
  • Belief that human behavior is determined by
    heredity and environment
  • Sense that human beings cannot control their own
    destinies
  • Sense of life as a losing battle against an
    uncaring universe

13
Naturalist Writers
  • Stephen Crane
  • Ambrose Bierce
  • Jack London
  • Edwin Arlington Robinson
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Edith Wharton

14
Why did Naturalism develop?
  • The swell of immigrants in the latter half of the
    19th century, which led to a larger lower class
    and increased poverty in the cities
  • The prominence of psychology and the theories of
    Sigmund Freud
  • Pessimism in the wake of the Civil War and
    Reconstruction
  • Publication of Charles Darwins Origin of the
    Species

15
Points to Remember
  • Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism are
    intertwined and connected.
  • Their influence has dominated most literature
    created since 1920, though the movement itself is
    dated to roughly that point.
  • They are truly American modes of writing.
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