Refashioning American Literary Naturalism

Christophe Den Tandt

in The Oxford Handbook of American Literary Naturalism

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Refashioning American Literary Naturalism

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  • Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)



This article aims to clarify the stakes of the recent critical revision of naturalism and to determine how durably its shift in methodological practice and thematic focus has affected literary scholarship. There has been no overall return to previous classical orthodoxies. Issues such as gender and race have gained a permanent standing in the critical landscape. Still, studies focusing on more traditional issues—determinism and the literary appropriation of science, most notably—have been published throughout the neo-Marxist/neo-historicist refashioning of the field. Likewise, scholarship has kept developing in ways unrelated to postmodernist theory. The 1981 publication of the restored text of Sister Carrie indicated how classical scholarship still had the capacity to set the terms of the critical debate. Additionally, advances in literary historical research have brought into the circle of critical discussion ever more texts deserving inclusion into the naturalist corpus. These developments further the emergence of what we might call a postclassical definition of naturalism. The latter term is relevant to discussions of naturalism that integrate the critical input of postmodernism without reducing turn-of-the-twentieth-century texts to test cases for theoretical paradigms. Postclassical scholarship, unlike some essays of the 1980s and 1990s, handles naturalism as a genre with its specific history, thematics, and discursive features.

Keywords: naturalism; literary scholarship; postclassical scholarship; Sister Carries

Article.  9267 words. 

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

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