Regionalism in America
Assignment: Discuss the characteristics of Regionalism found in the pieces of literature from Module 11. You must use all three: Bierce, Harte, and the Civil War diaries. Regionalism is part of Realism/Naturalism, so the characteristics of these two are found in Regionalism. Some descriptions are attached after the assignment; use them!
Create ONE WORD DOCUMENT, not three separate ones!
Create an outline (Optional but encouraged). Include the quotations you will use in your essay and double-space. Create a thesis for the outline. Type the outline with thesis and save it to your ID number on the Phoenix server.
Include the correct MLA heading on the first page. Note: this is not a header; begin typing the heading on the first line.
Type the thesis, but do not worry about the rest of the intro paragraph.
Write four body paragraphs. Double space. Look at the example in the MLA Basics.
Explain the characteristics and use quotations, 2 per body paragraph.
Write a conclusion paragraph that compares and/or contrasts the themes, beliefs, or values seen in the pieces to current values.
Finish the intro paragraph with background about Regionalism and/or about the authors. The thesis should be the last thing in your introduction.
Use Times New Roman, size 12 font. Double space.
Create a suitable title. Do not underline or bold that title. Do not use the title of a story or book as your title.
Parenthetically cite the quotations.
Do not use 1st or 2nd person pronouns. (I, you, and all variations)
Use correct margins. These are preset on Word.
Create a Works Cited page. Look at the examples in eClass.
The complete paper should be one document, not three separate documents! An essay should always be in the following order: essay, Works Cited, outline.
Save to your student number.
Print a hard copy and give to your instructor.
Characteristics of Realism and Naturalism: A Summary
Detail is the stuff that Realist writers use to weave their magic with: these writers immerse us in so much detail that we cannot help but believe that what we are reading is real.
One big innovation of Realist literature was the use of simple, transparent language.
They move from character to character, from scene to scene, from one place to another—because they just know it all. Of course, not all Realist literature is told from the omniscient narrator point of view—there are plenty of first-person narrators, for example, in Realist literature.
Realist literature is famous for the way it tries to create a world that seems real or true; Realist writers want us to believe that we are watching real life unfold on the page.
One reason Realism was so revolutionary when it emerged in the mid-19th century was that it rejected the idea that literature had to be about larger-than-life heroes doing heroic deeds. Realist writers wanted literature to reflect the true, daily reality of our lives.
Realist writers are really into describing, analyzing, and dramatizing personality. They delve deep into their characters’ psychologies and dig into their motivations, actions, and emotions. Realism was all about understanding life, society, and the world. Often, the first place these writers started was with the psychological reality of individual people.
Realist writers are all about critiquing the social and political conditions of the worlds that they write about. Authors like Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Honoré de Balzac, and Fyodor Dostoevsky depicted economic and social inequalities in their novels as a way of raising awareness about the plight of poor people, for example, or about the inequalities that affect women.
Sometimes Realist writers will delve into the intricate etiquette of the upper classes, and sometimes they will focus on the trials and tribulations of the lower classes. But the class that Realism is most concerned with, at least in Western Europe, is the middle class.
Around the time that Realism got going as a literary movement in the mid-19th century, more and more people were reading. Education was no longer the special privilege of fancy aristocrats.
The Naturalists’ interest in scientific ideas totally influenced their narrative style.
In Naturalist work, we will often find that the narrative tone is kind of detached and clinical. The narrator just describes what is going on—he or she does not get too involved with the characters, and does not even take sides.
People do not have much control over their fate in Naturalist fiction. Things happen to them, and no matter how hard they try to fight their circumstances, or overcome obstacles, they are often just doomed. In this regard, Naturalist fiction tends to be quite deterministic. Naturalist writers believed that we are shaped by our environments, and by our inherent nature. We cannot escape them.
If we are looking for happy endings, then we had better be prepared for disappointment; we will not find many of those in Naturalist literature. What we will find is lots of unhappy endings, and lots of tragedy. The reason Naturalist fiction is so pessimistic is because, as we have mentioned, Naturalist writers are pretty deterministic. They believe that we cannot escape our circumstances. If we come from a background of poverty, for instance, we are unlikely to end up in a good place.
The Naturalists were especially interested in exploring how social environments shape human beings, and how they influence the way they behave.
Heredity and Human Nature
Way before scientists began making links between our genes and our personalities, Naturalist writers were interested in heredity and human nature. In their fiction, they explored how certain personality traits and characteristics are passed on from one generation to the next.
Naturalist fiction explores how people do or do not survive. It takes Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest” and applies it to human society. Naturalists like to grapple with different questions: Who survives in society? Who fails to survive? And why?
Darwin’s ideas were hugely influential on the Naturalist writers. His scientific approach to the study of species influenced the way they saw and wrote about society. Society, according to them, was one big jungle where different “species,” or types of people, were trying to survive and thrive.
The line between Naturalism and Realism is often blurred, and many Naturalist writers can also be considered Realist. The difference, however, is that, unlike Realist writers, Naturalist writers often portrayed people as having no control over their fate. They believed that social environment—as opposed to free will—had a huge influence on the actions and behavior of people.
REGIONALISM/LOCAL COLOR CHARACTERISTICS:
• Sought to capture the essence of life in the various regions of our growing country; regional dialect/speech, landscape, customs, beliefs.
• The writing during this period was also very regional. The industrial revolution called for standardization, mass production of goods and streamlined channels of distribution. America was leaping into a new modern age and people feared that local folkways and traditions would be soon forgotten. Responding to these sentiments, realistic writers set their stories in specific American regions, rushing to capture the “local color” before it was lost.
• They drew upon the sometimes grim realities of everyday life, showing the breakdown of traditional values and the growing plight of the new urban poor. American realists built their plots and characters around people’s ordinary, everyday lives.
• Additionally, their works contained regional dialects and extensive dialogue which connected well with the public. As a result, readers were attracted to the realists because they saw their own struggles in print.
• Conversely, the public had little patience for the slow paced narratives, allegory and symbolism of the romantic writers. America was shifting into higher gear and readers wanted writers who clearly communicated the complexities of their human experiences
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