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American Realism

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Title: American Realism


1
American Realism
  • 1850-1900

2
The Catalyst
  • The eras origins lie in the increasing tension
    between the North and South
  • The Civil War prompted a shift in philosophy,
    literature, art, and politicsevery aspect of
    American society.

3
Responses to the War
  • Some responded with Idealism
  • Emerson optimistic, full of patriotic fervor
  • had long warned that this would happen if slavery
    wasnt abolished
  • Whitman saw horrifying images but maintained
    optimism
  • Believed the war did reveal strength and heroism

4
Other Reactions
  • Disillusionment
  • Herman Melville war increased pessimism
  • Believed war revealed humanitys basic evil

5
Images of War
  • Walt Whitman wrote of the appalling condition of
    medical services
  • Wounded on field for days
  • No anesthesia
  • Amputation and death

6
The War in Literature
  • Many historical works
  • Letters, journals, diaries
  • Very little literature producedwhy?
  • Few major writers saw the war first-hand
  • traditional literary forms were inadequate to
    express the horrifying details
  • Realistic novel had not been developed in U.S.

7
1st Realism novel about the war
  • The Red Badge of Courage
  • by Stephen Crane
  • He was born 6 yrs. after the war
  • Ironist juxtapose human pretensions with
    indifference of the universe

8
The Rise of Realism
  • Reaction against Romanticism
  • Romanticism did not capture real people and real
    circumstances
  • Realist writers aim at a minute fidelity to
    ordinary life
  • Wrote about slums, factories, corruption, cities
    rather than romantic settings

9
Goals of Realism
  • Inspired by European writers
  • Attempted to portray extreme accuracy and detail
  • Focused on not just WHAT people dobut WHY
  • Psychology
  • Biology
  • Sociology

10
American Regionalism
  • Literature that emphasizes a specific geographic
    setting
  • Illustrates speech and customs of that region
  • Most famous American Regionalist
  • Mark Twain

11
Realism in Journalism
  • Strongest advocate William Dean Howells
  • Realism should
  • Deal with the lives of ordinary people
  • Be faithful to development of character
  • Discuss social questions perplexing Americans

12
Naturalism
  • Dissect human behavior with as much objectivity
    as possible
  • Scientific approach
  • Human behavior is determined by forces beyond the
    individuals power
  • view life as a grim, losing battle
  • Human beings are subject to the natural laws of
    the universe
  • Fate over freewill

13
Psychological Fiction
  • Concentrated on distinctions in character
    motivation
  • Believed in freewill more than naturalists
  • Famous writers of psychological novels
  • Henry James
  • Stephen Crane
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