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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Summer 2009

E f372M • American Realism

Unique Days Time Location Instructor


Course Description

Please refer to the course schedule for course days, time, room location, prerequisites and possible cross-listings:

Late in the nineteenth century, a number of American artists strove to reject the falsity that they found in popular romantic and sentimental fiction and to represent instead the truly real. This class will explore the novels that they produced and the historical conditions that influenced this movement. To write realistically, one must first define reality -- which themes, characters, settings, and emotions did these writers seek to establish as more "real" than others, and which did they reject? Why did social phenomena like capitalism, immigration, urbanization, reconstruction, and the "new woman" emerge as subject matter for the realists? How did realism relate to other artistic and intellectual efforts to depict reality and identify “real” human nature in the visual arts, sociology, and biology? Was realism successful, and why have subsequent writers and critics argued that it failed at its artistic goals?

Grading Policy

Three short papers (2.5 pages) and one longer revision (5-7 pages): 80%, Class participation and presentation: 20%


Stephen Crane, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills, Charles Chesnutt, Tales of Conjure and the Color Line, Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country, Kate Chopin, The Awakening, Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs, Selected short stories


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