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Literary Movement: Realism 1860-1900. Historical Context Early 1850s Women’s Rights Movement led by Anthony & Stanton 1859 Origin of Species published.

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Presentation on theme: "Literary Movement: Realism 1860-1900. Historical Context Early 1850s Women’s Rights Movement led by Anthony & Stanton 1859 Origin of Species published."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literary Movement: Realism 1860-1900

2 Historical Context Early 1850s Women’s Rights Movement led by Anthony & Stanton 1859 Origin of Species published 1861-65 American Civil War 1865 President Lincoln assassinated 1865 Thirteenth Amendment is passed, outlawing slavery 1867 The U.S. purchases Alaska from Russia 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patents the first telephone 1878 Thomas Edison patents the first phonograph 1886 Statue of Liberty is dedicated 1891 James Naismith invents BASKETBALL!!! 1896 Athens, Greece hosts the first modern Olympic games 1898 The U.S. annexes Hawaii and wins the Spanish-American War 1900 Freud advances the field of psychiatry by publishing The Interpretation of Dreams

3 Worldview Darwinism challenged traditional ways of viewing the world and human nature. Are humans created by God? Are we objects of fate / chance? The Civil War caused Americans to turn from romantic ideals to harsh realities. Scientific methods and rational philosophy became valued over imagination and idealism.

4 Common Elements of the Literature Realism refers to a style of writing that attempts to depict life accurately, without idealizing or romanticizing. “Life through a clear glass window” Characters are more important than action and plot. Authors interested in psychological and sociological analysis. Class is important. Diction is often the vernacular instead of heightened, poetic speech. Tone is often comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact.

5 Common Elements of the Literature Realism had its roots in regionalism—also called local color—which is literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of people who live in that region. One branch of realism was naturalism, which reflected a belief that human behavior is determined by heredity and the environment.

6 Worldview A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation.” --Stephen Crane

7 Famous Authors Realism: Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton Regionalism: Bret Harte, Kate Chopin, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor Naturalism: Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, Frank Norris

8 Regionalism A sub-movement of realism Literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of people who live in that region Authors commonly used the vernacular, or regional dialects, rather than formal speech Similarly, authors of a movement called local color sought to “paint” local scenes through their writing Regionalist authors include Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Kate Chopin

9 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” About the Author: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) Born and raised in Ohio Self-educated Civil War experience—served in the Ninth Indiana Volunteers Became a successful journalist and editor in San Francisco Reputation for exposing public scandal and misconduct Earned the nickname “Bitter Bierce” Left to join the Mexican revolution in 1913; never heard from again

10 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce Narrative Techniques used in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” Flashback—interrupting the chronological sequence to depict something that happened earlier Shifts in point of view (from omniscient, or objective, to third-person limited)

11 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce Point of view is the perspective from which the writer tells a story. First person point of view: One of the characters in the story tells the story, using first-person pronouns such as “I” and “we.” Third-person limited point of view: An unknown narrator tells the story but zooms in to focus on the thoughts and feelings of only one character. Third-person omniscient point of view: An “all-knowing” narrator tells the story. Instead of focusing on one character, this narrator can reveal the private thoughts and feelings of many characters.

12 “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce Analysis 1. At what moments in the story does Bierce switch the point of view? What is the effect of these switches? 2. Bierce employs flashback rather than telling the story in chronological order. What is the effect of this narrative technique? 3. What clues in part three foreshadow the revelation at the end of the story that Farquhar is dead? 4. Why would Bierce, who was a Union soldier, choose to make his main character a Confederate? 5. What observation about the fundamental nature of war does Bierce make through the story of Peyton Farquhar? 6. Many readers find the story’s conclusion powerful, but some argue that the ending is nothing more than a gimmick and cheats the reader. What do you think?

13 “The Yellow Wall-paper” About the Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) Born in Hartford, Connecticut A descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe Abandoned by her father; raised by single mother Strong advocate of women’s rights First marriage: Charles Stetson, 1884 Experienced depression; first suggested cure: have a baby When her depression worsened (post partum depression?), second cure: “rest cure” Came near the edge of madness but recovered by resuming activities as a mother and political activist Divorced; pursued her career as a writer and lecturer; eventually remarried

14 “The Yellow Wall-paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Analysis 1. What is the narrator’s diagnosis? 2. What does the narrator believe would be the best cure for her? How does this contrast with what her husband and brother say? 3. The stages in the narrator’s mental collapse are marked by her changed perception of the yellow wall-paper. Trace these changes in perception. 4. Looking at clues in the text, what is responsible for the narrator’s mental collapse? 5. According to “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wall-paper,’” what is the story’s purpose? 6. Explain how Gilman uses each of the following for effect: setting, point of view. 7. How does the ending of “The Yellow Wall-paper” compare with the ending of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening?

15 “To Build a Fire” About the Author: Jack London (1876-1916) Born into a poor family in San Francisco Based his writing on his own experience “in the wild” “He worked at various hard labor jobs, pirated for oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol to capture poachers, sailed the Pacific on a sealing ship, joined Kelly's Army of unemployed working men, hoboed around the country, and returned to attend high school at age 19” (http://london.sonoma.edu/jackbio.html)http://london.sonoma.edu/jackbio.html Later spent time prospecting for gold in the Yukon Primary theme is the struggle of man and animal against the environment (A leading voice of naturalism) Bought into Social Darwinism and racial superiority of whites Most famous work—his novel The Call of the Wild The first American to become a millionaire through writing Death—suicide? Internal poisoning due to kidney failure?

16 “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Literary Focus: Naturalism A sub-movement of realism Inspired by Darwinism and his theory of natural selection Portrayed human behavior as a product of the environment Human beings are subject to forces beyond their control Instinct ultimately prevails over reason Characters often suffer a grim fate

17 “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Analysis 1. On a literal level, what causes the tragic outcome of the story? 2. How does London characterize the man in the story? How do his character traits contribute to his tragic fate? 3. What relationship between instinct and judgment, or reason, does London portray? 4. How does the story reflect key naturalistic ideas? 5. London wrote another, more commercially acceptable ending for an earlier version of “To Build a Fire.” In the first version the man survives, returns to camp, and learns an important lesson: Never travel alone. Do you think this ending improves the story or weakens it? Explain your response.

18 “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Analysis 1. On a literal level, what causes the tragic outcome of the story? 2. How does London characterize the man in the story? How do his character traits contribute to his tragic fate? 3. What relationship between instinct and judgment, or reason, does London portray? 4. How does the story reflect key naturalistic ideas? 5. London wrote another, more commercially acceptable ending for an earlier version of “To Build a Fire.” In the first version the man survives, returns to camp, and learns an important lesson: Never travel alone. Do you think this ending improves the story or weakens it? Explain your response.

19 Regionalism A sub-movement of realism Literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of people who live in that region Authors commonly used the vernacular, or regional dialects, rather than formal speech Similarly, authors of a movement called local color sought to “paint” local scenes through their writing Regionalist authors include Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Kate Chopin

20 “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” About the Author: Bret Harte


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