American literary regionalism
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American literary regionalism or local color is a style or genre of writing in the United States that gained popularity in the mid to late 19th century into the early 20th century. In this style of writing, which includes both poetry and prose, the setting is particularly important and writers often emphasize specific features such as dialect, customs, history, and landscape, of a particular region: "Such a locale is likely to be rural and/or provincial." Regionalism is influenced by both 19th-century realism and romanticism, adhering to a fidelity of description in the narrative but also infusing the tale with exotic or unfamiliar customs, objects, and people.
Literary critics argue that nineteenth-century literary regionalism helped preserve American regional identities while also contributing to domestic reunification efforts after the Civil War. Richard Brodhead argues in Cultures of Letters, "Regionalism's representation of vernacular cultures as enclaves of tradition insulated from larger cultural contact is palpably a fiction ... its public function was not just to mourn lost cultures but to purvey a certain story of contemporary cultures and of the relations among them" (121). Amy Kaplan, in contrast, debates race relations, empire, and literary regionalism in the nineteenth century, noting that, "The regions painted with 'local color' are traversed by the forgotten history of racial conflict with prior regional inhabitants, and are ultimately produced and engulfed by the centralized capitalist economy that generates the desire for retreat" (256). Critic Eric Sundquist ultimately suggests the social inequity inherent in the aesthetic distinction between realist and regionalist authors: "Economic or political power can itself be seen to be definitive of a realist aesthetic, in that those in power (say, white urban males) have been more often judged 'realists,' while those removed from the seats of power (say, Midwesterners, blacks, immigrants, or women) have been categorized as regionalists" (503).
Southern regional writers
- Pauline Hopkins
- James Lane Allen
- Wendell Berry
- George Washington Cable
- Erskine Caldwell
- Charles W. Chesnutt
- Kate Chopin
- Irvin S. Cobb
- Alice Dunbar Nelson
- William Faulkner
- Richard Ford
- Ellen Glasgow
- Davis Grubb
- Joel Chandler Harris
- Grace King
- Harper Lee
- Willie Morris
- Mary Noailles Murfree
- Flannery O'Connor
- Sarah Orne Jewett
- Thomas Nelson Page
- Charles Portis
- Ron Rash
- Jesse Stuart
- Joseph Dawson
- John Kennedy Toole
- Robert Penn Warren
- Sam. R. Watkins – Tennessee
- Manly Wade Wellman
- Eudora Welty
- Thomas Wolfe
- Martha Strudwick Young
- J.A Cuddon, A Dictionary of Literary Terms. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, p.560.
- "The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture — Amy Kaplan | Harvard University Press". www.hup.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- Cultures of Letters.
- Elliott, Emory (1991). The Columbia History of the American Novel. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231073608.
- "New England in the Short Story." Atlantic Monthly 67 (1891): 845–850.
- Wood, Ann D. "The Literature of Impoverishment: The Women Local Colorists in America, 1865–1914." Women's Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 1 (1972): 3–46.
- Donovan, Josephine (1983) New England Local Color Literature: A Women's Tradition. New York: Ungar.
- Emory Elliott, ed. (1988). "Regionalism: A Diminished Thing". Columbia Literary History of the United States. Columbia University Press. pp. 761–784. ISBN 978-0-585-04152-0.
- Charles Reagan Wilson and William Ferris, ed. (1989). "Regionalism and Local Color". Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. University of North Carolina Press.
- Amy Kaplan (1991). "Nation, Region, and Empire". In Emory Elliott. Columbia History of the American Novel. Columbia University Press. pp. 240–266. ISBN 978-0-231-07360-8.
- Richard H. Brodhead (1993). Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-07526-6.
- Nickels, Cameron C. New England Humor: From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War. 1st ed. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
- Nancy Glazener (1997). Reading for Realism: The History of a U.S. Literary Institution, 1850-1910. Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-1870-9. (Discusses magazines such as Atlantic Monthly, The Century, Harper's Monthly, The Nation, Scribners)
- Pryse, Marjorie. "Origins of American Literary Regionalism: Gender in Irving, Stowe, and Longstreet." In Breaking Boundaries: New Perspectives on Women's Regional Writing, edited by Sherrie A. Inness and Diana Royer, pp. 17–37. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997
- Stephanie Foote (2001). Regional Fictions: Culture and Identity in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-17113-1.
- Witschi, N.S. (2002). Traces of Gold: California’s Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American Literature. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-1117-3.
- Judith Fetterley; Marjorie Pryse (2003). Writing Out of Place: Regionalism, Women, and American Literary Culture. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02767-3.
- Lutz, Tom. Cosmopolitan Vistas: American Regionalism and Literary Value. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2004. via Google Books
- Donna M. Campbell (2006). "Regionalism and Local Color Fiction". In Tom Quirk; Gary Scharnhorst. American History Through Literature, 1870-1920. 3. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684314938.
- Philip Joseph (2007). American Literary Regionalism in a Global Age. Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-3188-6.
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