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American Realism (1865-1910)

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on 17 October 2013

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Transcript of American Realism (1865-1910)

American Realism (1865-1910)
Characteristics of Literature
• Pragmatism
• Literature of the common-place
• Portrays the reality of ordinary people (typically lower and middle classes)
• Ordinary speech in dialect; use of vernacular
Major Authors
Major Poets
American Realism offers an objective rather than an idealistic view on every day American life.
What is American Realism?
What was the Realism movement?
The Realism movement in America came into existence after the Romanticism period during the Civil War. It came about as a reaction against the supernatural and fantastical nature of romanticism and sentimentalism.
Realism created a transition from an emphasis on strange entities toward a faithful rendering of the ordinary, a slice of life as it is really lived.
• Presents contemporary American life
• Democratic function of literature
• Social criticism with a large impact on the reader
• Setting is crucial to the piece; regionalism
• Incorporates sociology and psychology
Samuel Clemens
More commonly known as Mark Twain, Clemens contributed to the Realism movement by capturing the every day life of the late 1800s. He used elements such as colloquial diction, an informality that portrays the vernacular of the time. The realism movement served as a catalyst to aid him in producing literature that accurately depicted the realities of the time period despite the authors that preceded him.
Twain's Works
Twain's most renowned pieces of literature such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer."
Twain commonly presents themes that represent the realities of the time such as current societal problems.
For example, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain delves into the issue of slavery through his portrayal of the character Jim.
Kate Chopin
Similar to Mark Twain, author Kate Chopin utilized her literature to speak out against the restrictions her time period held on women. She documented the events of her time such as the emergence of feminism and the woman as an individual.
Chopin's Works
Popular Chopin works holding the message of feminism include the novel "The Awakening" and the short story "The Story of an Hour," which presents the subordination women felt due to their marital status.
Steven Crane
Crane used his personal experiences on the battlefield and poverty-stricken areas to depict life during this time in its rawest forms.
Crane's Works
Crane's well-known novel, "The Red Badge of Courage" highlighted the haunting realities of the Civil War. Another one of his works, "Maggie: A Girl In the Streets" presented a young uneducated girl who endured the harsh consequences of having alcoholic parents.
W.E.B. DuBois
W.E.B. DuBois was a civil rights activist who captured the racial stigmas of the 19th century. He worked to accurately portray the treatment of African Americans at the time. He was the first African American man to attain a doctorate degree and graduated from Harvard.
DuBois' Works
DuBois was most commonly known for his numerous essays, "The Souls of Black Folk." He challenged the common thoughts that African Americans hindered the nation from a successful Reconstruction.
Emily Dickinson
Among other genres, Emily Dickinson was a centerpiece of the American Realism movement.
Dickinson's Works
The poem we chose to explicate was "But I Could Not Stop For Death." In this poem Dickinson explores the realism intertwined with mortality as death takes a woman on a journey throughout her own life. The poem focuses on the passage of time in context with the cyclic nature of life.
Henry James
James being a resident of England as well as the United States, had more of an outside and objective view of the happenings in America during this time period. He often compared old English values to new American ones. He moved away from idealistic characters, creating more realistic plots than previously found in the Romantic era.
Edgar Lee Masters
Masters was a famous poet most renowned for his poem, "Spoon River Anthology." This poem although unconventional in both style and content, shattered the myths of small town American life.
Historical Timeline
• 1865 – Passage of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishes slavery in the U.S.
• 1865 – Abraham Lincoln is assassinated; Andrew Johnson becomes president
• 1867 – Congress passes first of Reconstruction Acts
• 1868 – Passage of the Fourteenth Amendment grants citizenship to all persons born in the U.S., including former slaves
• 1869 – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony establish the National Woman Suffrage Association
• 1870 – Passage of the Fifteenth Amendment grants voting rights to all qualified males,
regardless of race or previous condition of servitude
• 1873 – Financial panic leads to economic depression in U.S.
• 1875 – Civil Rights Act guarantees all Americans, regardless of race; equal access to public accommodations
• 1881 – Founding of Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Union, later known as American Federation of Labor

• 1883 – Supreme Court declares Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional
• 1890 – Wyoming is first state to give women right to vote
• 1896 – Supreme Court affirms constitutionality of “separate but equal” accommodations for whites and blacks in Plessy v. Ferguson
• 1901 – William McKinley is assassinated; Theodore Roosevelt becomes president
• 1909 – Formation of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Many events that occurred during this time period had an immense effect on the social and cultural trends found in literature. Slavery, a new-found push for women's rights, and poverty were all present issues taking a toll on the nation as a whole.
Social/Cultural Influences
1865-1910 fashion included trends such as makeup, most importantly lipstick, sideburns on men, and traditional dresses for women. Hats were also an extremely popular accessory for women of the time.
The invention of useable electricity, steel, and petroleum products allowed the use of railways and steam ships to grow exponentially. The 19th century was the age of machine tools. Interchangeable parts and the assembly line sped up the expansion of the factory industry and the production of consumer goods.
James' Works
His protagonists were often young American
women facing oppression or abuse. For
example in his novel "Daisy Miller." Other
examples of his literature include
"The Portrait of a Lady" and "The Bostonians."
The late 19th century was defined by an expanding music palette. The piano was considered a necessary instrument during this time. Ragtime music was notably popular in the 1890s and defined as an African American style that fused both blues and jazz into one. The dominating music industry was in New York City and called Tin Pan Alley.
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