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Title: ENGL 361-01, American Realism and Naturalism, Fall 2008
Authors: Petty, Leslie
Keywords: English, Department of;Syllabus;Curriculum;Academic departments;Text;2008 Fall
Issue Date: 27-Aug-2008
Publisher: Memphis, Tenn. : Rhodes College
Series/Report no.: Syllabi CRN
Abstract: Simply put, American Realism and Naturalism were concomitant aesthetic movements that developed in the second half of the nineteenth century as a reaction against Romanticism brought on by post-Civil War disillusionment. As far as it goes, this definition suits; however, it is only the broadest outline of what cultural and artistic forces shaped American literature from about 1875-1910, producing the variety of literary forms and achievements that fall under the umbrella headings “realist” and/or “naturalist.” For example, technological advances such as the verisimilitude of photography made authors re-think the way they used language, as did the rise of the middle-class and the development of historiography, with its attention to telling the narrative of history in a plausible cause/effect sequence. Industrialism meant that the nation was becoming more homogenized, and an unexpected consequence was an increased interest in stories about the particularities of various regions (along with an exploding audience for periodical literature). Newly freed slaves, a burgeoning immigrant population and a large class of single white women demanding their rights changed not only the demographics and social awareness of the nation, but contributed to the development of a realist and naturalist aesthetic as well. Finally, this was the moment when the novel “came of age,” so to speak; a generation of writers such as James, Howells and Twain began theorizing what makes the novel successful and what its merits are, in an attempt to elevate its status from simple mass entertainment to a legitimate art form. In this course, we will attempt to trace this intricate web of historical, cultural and aesthetic developments, considering how they grew out of the legacy of the Civil War but also how they propelled the nation toward modernity in the twentieth-century.
Description: This syllabus was submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs by the course instructor.
Appears in Collections:Course Syllabi

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