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American Realism No More Romantic Sunshine & Rainbows…

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Presentation on theme: "American Realism No More Romantic Sunshine & Rainbows…"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Realism No More Romantic Sunshine & Rainbows…

2 Origins/Influences 1850/ / / /1910 Began during the Civil War & continued into the early 20th century Began during the Civil War & continued into the early 20th century Reaction to the idealism of Romanticism & Transcendentalism: CONTRAST (Civil War between Romantics & Realists) Reaction to the idealism of Romanticism & Transcendentalism: CONTRAST (Civil War between Romantics & Realists) Fertile literary environment Fertile literary environment – Rising middle class & literacy rates

3 Social/Political Context Reaction to Civil War suffering (couldn’t romanticize war anymore once saw it on their own soil & the mass destruction, poverty, & death it caused – women forced out of traditional roles & soldiers no longer praised as heroes) Reaction to Civil War suffering (couldn’t romanticize war anymore once saw it on their own soil & the mass destruction, poverty, & death it caused – women forced out of traditional roles & soldiers no longer praised as heroes) Invention of photograph Invention of photograph – Captured true life Increased literacy & democracy (& rise in middle class affluence)= public hungry for truth & awareness Increased literacy & democracy (& rise in middle class affluence)= public hungry for truth & awareness Abolitionism & post-slavery stories Abolitionism & post-slavery stories – Dark side of America Origins of Muckraking journalism Origins of Muckraking journalism – Expose corruption, particularly political & corporate (continues today…) – Literature affected: tried to do the same

4 Realism: Values/Beliefs Contrasts w/Romanticism & Transcendentalism Contrasts w/Romanticism & Transcendentalism Nature is no longer a source of spiritual truth & inspiration but a force that is beyond human control Nature is no longer a source of spiritual truth & inspiration but a force that is beyond human control Describes life w/out Romantic subjectivity & idealism; more pessimistic /skeptical & reflective of the harshness & ironic humor of life; represents the common, the average, the non-extreme, the representative, the probable Describes life w/out Romantic subjectivity & idealism; more pessimistic /skeptical & reflective of the harshness & ironic humor of life; represents the common, the average, the non-extreme, the representative, the probable Whereas Romantics transcend the immediate to find the ideal, Realists focus on the immediate, the here & now (known as descendental) Whereas Romantics transcend the immediate to find the ideal, Realists focus on the immediate, the here & now (known as descendental) Focuses on specific actions and their consequences Focuses on specific actions and their consequences Present life as it is, not as it might be; describes life without idealization/romantic subjectivity while adding criticisms about it to stimulate change Present life as it is, not as it might be; describes life without idealization/romantic subjectivity while adding criticisms about it to stimulate change Concerned with the commonplace of everyday life Concerned with the commonplace of everyday life - particularly among the middle & lower classes, where character is a product of social & environmental factors experimental. experimental. Purpose of writing: to instruct & entertain Purpose of writing: to instruct & entertain

5 Values/Beliefs, Cont. Multiple views of life: all classes, races, genders, manners (realistic complexity = interwove, complex experience, multiplicty=different levels of reality or many truths that are equally true from some point of view) Multiple views of life: all classes, races, genders, manners (realistic complexity = interwove, complex experience, multiplicty=different levels of reality or many truths that are equally true from some point of view) – Particularly lower/middle classes – Highlight class stratification/inequity – Reveal the ugliness & cruelty of life, but leave conclusions to the reader Like Romantics, still focuses on common person & daily human experience & progressive, but stimulated change through telling a story that reveals truth & portrays ugliness & cruelty, not preaching or emphasizing author’s comments (left readers to draw their own conclusions) Like Romantics, still focuses on common person & daily human experience & progressive, but stimulated change through telling a story that reveals truth & portrays ugliness & cruelty, not preaching or emphasizing author’s comments (left readers to draw their own conclusions) Viewed as a realization of democracy Viewed as a realization of democracy Morality is intrinsic, integral, relativistic and morality is often self- realized upon examining idealism; explores relations between people & society; responsible morality – a world truly reported Morality is intrinsic, integral, relativistic and morality is often self- realized upon examining idealism; explores relations between people & society; responsible morality – a world truly reported Realists were pragmatic, relativistic, democratic Realists were pragmatic, relativistic, democratic

6 Literary Conventions Less use of symbolism with more focus on describing reality in simple detail using images; symbolism is often controlled & limited Less use of symbolism with more focus on describing reality in simple detail using images; symbolism is often controlled & limited Emphasis on scenic presentation Emphasis on scenic presentation Settings usually familiar to the writer Settings usually familiar to the writer Usually uses the omniscient point of view Usually uses the omniscient point of view Complex ethical choices are often the subject Complex ethical choices are often the subject Class is important Class is important Characters product of social & environmental factors Characters product of social & environmental factors – Often poorly educated or lower class whose lives are governed by forces of heredity, instinct, & passion. Forces beyond their control restrict their attempts at exercising free will/choice. Renders reality closely & often in minute detail, even at the expense of plot Renders reality closely & often in minute detail, even at the expense of plot Character more important than plot; characters appear in their real complexity of temperament & motive & are inexplicable in relation to nature, each other, their social class, & their past (characters are related to nature/each other/their social class/their past) Character more important than plot; characters appear in their real complexity of temperament & motive & are inexplicable in relation to nature, each other, their social class, & their past (characters are related to nature/each other/their social class/their past)

7 Conventions, Cont. Characters & events often seem ordinary & uninteresting in order to extract their full value & meaning; ordinary characters studied in depth Characters & events often seem ordinary & uninteresting in order to extract their full value & meaning; ordinary characters studied in depth Humans control their destinies; characters often act on their environment instead of simply reacting to it Humans control their destinies; characters often act on their environment instead of simply reacting to it Plausible events that avoid sensational, overly dramatic elements Plausible events that avoid sensational, overly dramatic elements – However, do explore psychological journey as form of subjective reality, but in a negative way… Natural vernacular (writing that reflects the sounds & uses of spoken language of a region)/speech, not the heightened or poetic language of the Romantics Natural vernacular (writing that reflects the sounds & uses of spoken language of a region)/speech, not the heightened or poetic language of the Romantics – Written just as spoken Tone is comic, satiric (satire=a literary work that holds up human vices & follies to scorn), pessimistic, skeptical, or matter-of-fact Tone is comic, satiric (satire=a literary work that holds up human vices & follies to scorn), pessimistic, skeptical, or matter-of-fact Irony: some juxtapose human pretensions with the indifference of the universe Irony: some juxtapose human pretensions with the indifference of the universe Objectivity Objectivity Considers seemingly ordinary & uninteresting characters/events in order to extract full value & true meaning Considers seemingly ordinary & uninteresting characters/events in order to extract full value & true meaning – Simple stories far more complex than they appear Realistically conveyed sexuality, both its dark and light sides…. Realistically conveyed sexuality, both its dark and light sides….

8 Naturalism Branch of Realism (a bit more negative than Realism, perhaps…) Branch of Realism (a bit more negative than Realism, perhaps…) Philosophical position: scientific laws control life Philosophical position: scientific laws control life Heavily influenced by Darwinism: social Darwinism (can’t escape heredity & class; war destroys heredity, as even the wealthy aren’t protected & die on the battlefield; kill or be killed; animal instincts of survival; greed & reconstruction) Heavily influenced by Darwinism: social Darwinism (can’t escape heredity & class; war destroys heredity, as even the wealthy aren’t protected & die on the battlefield; kill or be killed; animal instincts of survival; greed & reconstruction) – Natural Selection – Survival of the Fittest Portrays nature as an independent, uncaring force that governs the lives of humans & man’s struggle for survival/futile attempts of people to exercise free will Portrays nature as an independent, uncaring force that governs the lives of humans & man’s struggle for survival/futile attempts of people to exercise free will Darker & more deterministic/fatalistic (fatalistic = determined by fate, not choice) Darker & more deterministic/fatalistic (fatalistic = determined by fate, not choice)

9 Naturalism, Cont. Lives governed by heredity, environment, instinct, & passion Lives governed by heredity, environment, instinct, & passion – Nature NOT nurture…. Usually focuses on poorly educated and/or lower class Usually focuses on poorly educated and/or lower class Usually takes place in cities Usually takes place in cities Depict cycles of despair Depict cycles of despair Forces beyond a character’s control restrict attempts to exercise free will or choice Forces beyond a character’s control restrict attempts to exercise free will or choice Uses details Uses details Themes: survival, determination, violence, taboo Themes: survival, determination, violence, taboo Conflicts: man vs. nature, man vs. self, (usually, a character must fight against external temptations or pleasures that may release the “brute within”) Conflicts: man vs. nature, man vs. self, (usually, a character must fight against external temptations or pleasures that may release the “brute within”)

10 Regionalism A branch of Realism A branch of Realism Literature that is regularly set in & focused on a particular region (specific to a geographical area) – its customs, dialects (to establish authenticity), customs, & geography (emphasizes sectional differences) Literature that is regularly set in & focused on a particular region (specific to a geographical area) – its customs, dialects (to establish authenticity), customs, & geography (emphasizes sectional differences) Minute detail (detailed & accurate descriptions) Minute detail (detailed & accurate descriptions) Some influence of Romanticism: looks to the exotic, can be nostalgic/sentimental Some influence of Romanticism: looks to the exotic, can be nostalgic/sentimental Usually definitive of groups/minorities without power Usually definitive of groups/minorities without power Local color (sub-movement): , America wanted to know what their country looked like and how the various races lived and talked during the age of first mappings (Local Color provided a literary map of America), surveyings of the West, and the transcontinental railroad that stretched east and west Local color (sub-movement): , America wanted to know what their country looked like and how the various races lived and talked during the age of first mappings (Local Color provided a literary map of America), surveyings of the West, and the transcontinental railroad that stretched east and west Protective of/attached to a certain space/area; protective of own culture/identity/tradition/history Protective of/attached to a certain space/area; protective of own culture/identity/tradition/history Civil War divided North & South Civil War divided North & South Influenced by Southwestern humor Influenced by Southwestern humor Color symbolism Color symbolism Is believed by some to have unified the nation after the Civil War & contributed to late 19 th century ideas of national identity Is believed by some to have unified the nation after the Civil War & contributed to late 19 th century ideas of national identity

11 Regionalism, Cont. Setting: frequently in nature, remote & inaccessible (setting important) Setting: frequently in nature, remote & inaccessible (setting important) Stereotypical/quaint character types of a region, usually marked by their adherence to tradition, regional personality traits, & dialect Stereotypical/quaint character types of a region, usually marked by their adherence to tradition, regional personality traits, & dialect Female heroines are usually unmarried women or young girls Female heroines are usually unmarried women or young girls Narrator is usually an educated observer from elsewhere who learns something from the characters while preserving a sometimes sympathetic, often ironic distance. Narrator serves as a mediator between the country folk and the urban audience. Speaker often tells of some tale he/she has heard from/about some region. Narrator is usually an educated observer from elsewhere who learns something from the characters while preserving a sometimes sympathetic, often ironic distance. Narrator serves as a mediator between the country folk and the urban audience. Speaker often tells of some tale he/she has heard from/about some region. Plot is not as important; revolves around the community & its rituals Plot is not as important; revolves around the community & its rituals Themes: antipathy to change, nostalgia for past golden age, celebration of community, acceptance in the face of diversity Themes: antipathy to change, nostalgia for past golden age, celebration of community, acceptance in the face of diversity Conflicts: urban vs. old fashioned rural values (an outsider intrudes, seeking something from the community) Conflicts: urban vs. old fashioned rural values (an outsider intrudes, seeking something from the community)

12 Psychological Realism Branch of Realism Branch of Realism Character motivation Character motivation Complex social & psychological situations Complex social & psychological situations Human character/behavior at moments of stress/under pressure Human character/behavior at moments of stress/under pressure

13 Famous Authors Realist: Mark Twain Mark Twain – Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “The War Prayer” Stephen Crane Stephen Crane – Red Badge of Courage, “The Open Boat,” “A Mystery of Heroism” Upton Sinclair Upton Sinclair – The Jungle William Dean Howells William Dean Howells Ambrose Bierce Ambrose Bierce - “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass - “The Battle with Mr. Covey” from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Bret Harte Bret Harte Rebecca Harding Davis Rebecca Harding Davis Kate Chopin Kate Chopin – “Story of an Hour,” “Desiree’s Baby,” “A Pair of Silk Stockings,” The Awakening

14 Famous Authors, Cont. Naturalist: Naturalist: Frank Norris Frank Norris Jack London Jack London – Call of the Wild, “To Build a Fire” Stephen Crane Stephen Crane – Maggie: Girl of the Street Henry James Henry James – Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller John Steinbeck John Steinbeck – Of Mice & Men (debatable)

15 Famous Authors, Cont. Regionalist: Regionalist: Mark Twain Mark Twain Kate Chopin Kate Chopin Psychological Realist: Psychological Realist: Stephen Crane Stephen Crane Henry James Henry James Ambrose Bierce Ambrose Bierce - “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”


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