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

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Presentation on theme: "American Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism 1860-1920(ish)"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Realism, Regionalism, and Naturalism (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

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 19 th 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

8 Regionalist Writers Kate Chopin— South Mary E. Wilkins- Freeman—New England Mark Twain—West Willa Cather— Midwest

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 (ish)

11 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

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

13 Why did Naturalism develop? The swell of immigrants in the latter half of the 19 th 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 Darwin’s Origin of the Species

14 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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