David E. Shi

in Facing Facts

Published in print July 1996 | ISBN: 9780195106534
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854097 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


Realism has not fared well of late within the higher reaches of the academy and among prominent segments of the artistic community. Much of the fiction and art produced during the Gilded Age is as out of fashion as the hansom cab and hooped skirt. Today, it seems, the gaslit, brownstone world represented by William Dean Howells and John Sloan evokes the poignance of a bygone era. What was vivid and valid for its own day has become bland and antique a century later. Many realistic works of art and literature have lost the sheen of novelty and seem terribly outdated. However, there is more at work than changing cultural fashions. Since the end of the Second World War, realism and its accompanying ideology of liberal humanism, have become objects of ferocious contempt. Modern American culture has supposedly become so suffocating and corrupting, so vacuous and idiotic, that it is no longer worthy of mimetic representation.

Keywords: realism; William Dean Howells; John Sloan; art; literature; liberal humanism; culture

Chapter.  2526 words. 

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.