Term papers writing service


A report on the realistic movement and naturalism movement

Included under the broad umbrella of realism are a diverse set of authors, including Henry James, W. Often categorized as regionalists or local colorists, many of these writers produced work that emphasized geographically distinct dialects and customs. Others offered satirical fiction or novels of manners that exposed the excesses, hypocrisies, or shortcomings of a culture undergoing radical social change.

A subsequent generation of writers, including Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Edith Wharton, and Jack London, are most often cited as the American inheritors of the naturalist approach practiced by Emile Zola, whose 1880 treatise Le Roman Experimental applied the experimental methods of medical science to the construction of the novel.

Governed by a combination of heredity, environment, and chance, the typical characters of naturalist fiction find themselves constrained from achieving the transcendent goals suggested by a false ideology of romantic individualism. Over the past century, critics and literary historians have alternately viewed realist and naturalist texts as explicit condemnations of the economic, cultural, or ethical deficiencies of the industrialized age or as representations of the very ideological forces they purport to critique.

More recently, the emergence of deconstructive, Marxist, and new historicist criticism in the 1980s afforded a revised, and often skeptical, reevaluation of realism and naturalism as more conflicted forms, itself defined or constructed by hegemonic forces and offering insight into late-19th- and early-20th-century ideologies of class, race, and gender. In particular, efforts to provide large-scale summaries reflect the attention to social problems in 1960s, and the influence of—and reaction to—post-structuralism and cultural criticism in the 1980s.

In all cases, however, comprehensive hypotheses about the nature of realism and naturalism remain grounded, to a large extent, in the political, economic, and cultural history of the late 19th century.

Kaplan 1988Borus 1989and Bell 1993 each make valuable contributions to the new historicist reexamination of naturalism. Murphy 1987 offers one of the few comprehensive accounts of realism within dramatic literature. The Problem of American Realism: Studies in the Cultural History of a Literary Idea. University of Chicago Press, 1993. The Ferment of Realism: In this light, establishes forceful reading of realist novels as varied statements of outrage and opposition to the increasing materialism, disorder, and perceived moral decay in the years leading up to World War I.

Influence of Realism on Literature

Howells, James, and Norris in the Mass Market. University of North Carolina Press, 1989. Explores Howells, James, and Norris in detail, with some attention to other writers, including compelling discussions of the publishing industry, literary celebrity, and rise of the political novel. The Social Construction of American Realism.

University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Among the more influential new historicist interventions. The Novel in an Age of Transition. University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.

Describes the philosophical and cultural assumptions that helped shape these movements and traces their development throughout the 20th century. At times polemical in its dismissal of post-structuralist or materialist rereadings see, for example, Kaplan 1988 ; Howard 1985 or Michaels 1987both cited under Philosophy, History, and Formnonetheless immensely useful and readable synthesis of key ideas.

American Realism and American Drama, 1880—1940.

Cambridge University Press, 1987. Addresses the scant attention paid to the theater in the scholarship on realism. The Beginnings of Critical Realism in America, 1860—1920. Southern Illinois University Press, 1984.

  • In this light, establishes forceful reading of realist novels as varied statements of outrage and opposition to the increasing materialism, disorder, and perceived moral decay in the years leading up to World War I;
  • He wrote from a perspective that allowed him to contrast American society with that of Europe by contrasting the peoples' ideas;
  • He believes that his writing should address the problems that society has and the problems that he has with society.

Collects a variety of essays that construct a coherent portrait of the movements and their defining tensions. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login. How to Subscribe Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions.

For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.