American Literary Naturalism and Psychology

Stephen C. Brennan

in The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195368932
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 American Literary Naturalism and Psychology

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This article considers five important naturalistic works, published between 1895 and 1925, that reveal the diversity of psychological themes during naturalism's classical age. These are Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage (1895) and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900) for the pre-Freudian period and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919), Ellen Glasgow's Barren Ground (1925), and Dreiser's An American Tragedy (1925) for the early Freudian period. If there is an implicit thesis in the discussions that follow, it is that America's naturalists read psychology not to depict mindless puppets in the hands of implacable forces or animals snared in the trap of circumstances but to portray convincingly the often undecided struggle for dignity at that intersection of inner and outer reality, the human consciousness.

Keywords: American naturalists; psychological themes; Stephen Crane; Theodore Dreiser; Sherwood Anderson; Ellen Glasgow; human consciousness

Article.  10442 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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