Title

Consolation, Affirmation, and Convention: The Popular Reception of American Naturalist Texts

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2011

Abstract

This chapter is from the book The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism, which takes stock of the best new research in the field through collecting twenty-eight original essays drawing upon recent scholarship in literary and cultural studies. The contributors offer an authoritative and in-depth reassessment of writers from Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London to Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, John Steinbeck, Joyce Carol Oates, and Cormac McCarthy. One set of essays focus on the genre itself, exploring the historical contexts that gave birth to it, the problem of definition, its interconnections with other genres, the scientific and philosophical ideas that motivate naturalist authors, and the continuing presence of naturalism in twenty-first century fiction. Others examine the tensions within the genre-the role of women and African-American writers, depictions of sexuality, the problem of race, and the critique of commodity culture and class. A final set of essays looks beyond the works to consider the role of the marketplace in the development of naturalism, the popular and critical response to the works, and the influence of naturalism in the other arts.

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