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9Regionalism & Local Color 1865-1920 RealismRegionalism & Local Color
10What is realism?Broadly defined, a literary technique devoted to "the faithful representation of reality"A reaction against romanticismSparked by an interest in the scientific method, the systematizing of the study of documentary history, and the influence of rational philosophy
11Realist writers …Endeavored to accurately represent contemporary culture and people from all walks of lifeAddressed themes of socioeconomic conflict by contrasting the living conditions of the poor with those of the upper classes in urban as well as rural societiesSought to narrate their novels from an objective, unbiased perspective that simply and clearly represented the factual elements of the storyBecame masters at psychological characterization, detailed descriptions of everyday life in realistic settings, and dialogue that captures the idioms of natural human speech
12Some Key Influences Rapid growth after the Civil War Increasing rates of democracy and literacyRapid growth in industrialism and urbanizationAn expanding population base due to immigrationA relative rise in middle-class affluenceInterest in understanding these rapid shifts in cultureConcern about loss of personal identity
13Local Color/Regional Literature Local color or regional literature focuses on the characters, dialect, customs, topography, and other features particular to a specific region.Between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century, this mode of writing became dominant in American literature.
14Local ColorAccording to the Oxford Companion to American Literature, "In local-color literature one finds the dual influence of romanticism and realism, since the author frequently looks away from ordinary life to distant lands, strange customs, or exotic scenes, but retains through minute detail a sense of fidelity and accuracy of description" (439).
15Regional LiteratureRegional literature incorporates the broader concept of sectional differences within a locale.For example, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes use of seven distinct dialects to represent the differences of various groups living in the region.
16ImpactsContributed to the reunification of the country after the Civil WarHelped build a national identityContributed to the narrative of unified nationhood that late nineteenth-century America sought to construct
17Regionalism in ArtRegionalism is a realist modern American art movement wherein artists shunned the city and rapidly developing technological advances to focus on scenes of rural life.Regionalist style was at its height from 1930 to 1935.During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Regionalist art was widely appreciated for its reassuring images of the American heartland.
18“We introduced America to Americans “We introduced America to Americans." --Roy Stryker, Regionalist Photographer
19Shared Characteristics in Local Color & Regional Literature SettingCharactersNarratorPlotsThemes
20SettingThe emphasis is frequently on nature and the limitations it imposes; settings are frequently remote and inaccessible. The setting is integral to the story and may sometimes become a character in itself.
21CharactersLocal color stories tend to be concerned with the character of the district or region rather than with the individual: characters may become character types, sometimes quaint or stereotypical.The characters are marked by their adherence to the old ways, by dialect, and by particular personality traits central to the region.
22NarratorThe narrator is typically an educated observer from the world beyond who learns something from the characters while preserving a sometimes sympathetic, sometimes ironic distance from them.The narrator serves as mediator between the rural folk of the tale and the urban audience to whom the tale is directed.
23PlotsIt has been said that "nothing happens" in local color stories by women authors, and often very little does happen.Stories may include lots of storytelling and revolve around the community and its rituals.
24ThemesMany local color stories share an antipathy to change and a nostalgia for an always-past golden age. Thematic tension or conflict between urban ways and old-fashioned rural values is often symbolized by the intrusion of an outsider or interloper who seeks something from the community.
25Shared TechniquesUse of dialect to establish credibility and authenticity of regional characters.Use of detailed description, especially of small, seemingly insignificant details central to an understanding of the region.Frequent use of a frame story in which the narrator hears some tale of the region.
27Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910) Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka. Mark Twain, was a natural-born storyteller who was the first writer to recognize that art could be created out of the American language.Through his use of carefully chosen words and his sharply honed humor, he dealt head-on with controversial issues that others were afraid to confront.
28Mark Twain’s Writing Advice “Whatever you have lived, you can write – & by hard work & a genuine apprenticeship, you can learn to write well; but what you have not lived you cannot write, you can only pretend to write it...”
29“An Enormous Noticer”Mark Twain is described as “an enormous noticer.” Much of what he noticed as a boy growing up in the small Mississippi River town of Hannibal, Missouri, found its way into his writings in books such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.He was always noticing whether people had their hands in their pockets or not, how they dressed, walked, spoke or presented themselves to others.
30Consider this passage from the first chapter of Tom Sawyer, for example: “A stranger was before him – boy a shade larger than himself... This boy was well-dressed, too well-dressed on a week-day. This was simply astounding. His cap was a dainty thing, his close-buttoned blue cloth roundabout was new and natty, and so were his pantaloons. He had shoes on–and it was only Friday. He even wore a necktie, a bright bit of ribbon. He had a citified air about him that ate into Tom’s vitals.”
31Now, close your eyes … What am I wearing? What is currently hanging on the back bulletin board?What color are the walls in this room?How many book shelves are in this room?Are there more boys or girls in this class?What object is sitting above the white board on the left side?
32Twain’s First Success"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865) was Twain’s first great success as a writer, bringing him national attention.In it, the narrator retells a story he heard from a bartender at the Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California, about the gambler Jim Smiley and his “celebrated jumping frog”.
33How he got started …Twain began his career as a journalist, travel writer, and writer of light, humorous verse.He evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies. and murderous acts of mankind, making frequent use of satire.At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative and social criticism.
34What is satire?A literary genre or form in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement.Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.A common feature of satire is strong irony or sarcasm; it also makes frequent use of parody, burlesque, analogy, exaggeration, juxtaposition, and double entendre.Modern Examples: Animal Farm; Fahrenheit 451; Lord of the Flies; Saturday Night Live, “Doonesbury,” John Stewart; Stephen Colbert; The Simpsons; South Park
35Twain on Humor …“Humor must not professedly teach, and it must not professedly preach, but it must do both if it would live forever.”– Mark Twain
36Most Famous Books The Innocents Abroad Roughing It The Adventures of Tom SawyerThe Prince and the PauperLife on the MississippiThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnA Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s CourtThe Tragedy of Pudd’nhead WilsonA Burlesque Autobiography
37The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – a prequel to Huckleberry Finn
38Twain’s Use of DialectTwain was a master at rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language.In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain uses seven different dialects and even provides an explanation for doing so …
39Twain’s “EXPLANATORY” “IN this book a number of dialects are used, to wit: the Missouri negro dialect; the extremest form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect; the ordinary "Pike County" dialect; and four modified varieties of this last. The shadings have not been done in a haphazard fashion, or by guesswork; but painstakingly, and with the trustworthy guidance and support of personal familiarity with these several forms of speech.I make this explanation for the reason that without it many readers would suppose that all these characters were trying to talk alike and not succeeding.”
40Missouri Negro: Jim“Goodness gracious, is dat you, Huck? En you ain’ dead-you ain’t drownded-you’s back ag’in? It’s too good for true, honey, it’s too good for true. Lemme look at you chile, lemme feel o’ you. No, you ain’ dead! you’s back ag’in, ‘live en soun’, jis de same ole Huck-de same ole Huck, thanks to goodness!”
41Extremist form of the backwoods Southwestern dialect: Arkansas Gossips (Sister Hotchkiss) “Look at that-air grindstone, s’I; want to tell me’t any cretur ‘t’s in his right mind’s a-goin’ to scrabble all them crazy things onto a grindstone? s’I.”
42Ordinary “Pike County”: Huck “My folks was living in Pike County, in Missouri, where I was born, and they all died off but me and pa and my brother Ike.”
43Modified “Pike County”: King “Well, I’d ben a-runnin’ a little temperence revival thar ‘bout a week and business a-growin’ all the time, when somehow or another a little report got around last night that I had a way of puttin’ in my time with a private jug on the sly.”
44Huck as NarratorThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was a breakthrough in American literature for its presentation of Huck Finn, an adolescent boy who tells the story in his own language. The novel was one of the first in America to employ the child's perspective and employ the vernacular — a language specific to a region or group of people—throughout the book.
45Unique PerspectiveHuck's unique perspective is that of a lower-class, southern white child, who has been viewed as an outcast by society.From this position, Huck narrates the story of his encounters with various southern types, sometimes revealing his naivete and, at other times, his acute ability to see through the hypocrisy of his elders.
46Realist and Regionalist techniques are exemplified in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by the specific and richly detailed setting …
47… and the novel's insistence on dialect which attempts to reproduce the natural speech of a variety of characters unique to the Mississippi Valley region.
48In addition, Huck's momentous decision to free Jim, even if it means going to hell, is seen as a classic episode of Realist fiction because it demonstrates the individual's struggle to make choices based on inner motivations, rather than outside forces.
50Many wonder if he really meant that since Huck goes through a major metamorphosis in his thinking about Jim …
51On Race …“ I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed I know it... All that I care to know is that a man is a human being – that is enough for me.”– Mark Twain
52Early ExperiencesBlack people and black voices were part of Twain’s life from the beginning. Every summer as a child Sam spent several weeks on his uncle’s farm, where an old slave called “Uncle Daniel” thrilled the youngsters with ghost stories.One of his most lasting childhood memories was not so pleasant. It was of a dozen men and women, chained together, waiting to be shipped down-river to the slave market. “They had,” he said, “the saddest faces I ever saw.”
53Controversy/Book Banning The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first published in 1884, was controversial from the start. In 1885, Concord Public Library banned the book.Mark Twain wrote to Charles Webster on March 18, 1885: "The Committee of the Public Library of Concord, Mass., have given us a rattling tip-top puff which will go into every paper in the country. They have expelled Huck from their library as 'trash and suitable only for the slums.' That will sell 25,000 copies for us sure."
54In 1902, the Brooklyn Public Library banned The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with the statement that "Huck not only itched but he scratched," and that he said "sweat" when he should have said "perspiration."
55Modern Day IssuesIn general, the debate over Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has centered around the language of the book, which has been objected to on social grounds, specifically for its repeated use of the “N” word, which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set.Yielding to public pressure, some textbook publishers have substituted "slave" or "servant" for the term that Mark Twain uses in the book, which has been considered derogatory to African Americans.
56The “N” WordComes from the Latin adjective meaning “black” (niger) and the Spanish/Portuguese word for black (negro)“Used rightly or wrongly, ironically or seriously, of necessity for the sake of realism, or impishly for the sake of comedy, it doesn't matter. Negroes do not like it in any book or play whatsoever, be the book or play ever so sympathetic in its treatment of the basic problems of the race. Even though the book or play is written by a Negro, they still do not like it. The word nigger, you see, sums up for us who are colored all the bitter years of insult and struggle in America.”- Langston Hughes
57Others see it as the greatest and most important American novel … "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn."- Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa