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The Rise of Realism. The Civil War and Post War Period 1850-1900. The Rise of Realism. What does it mean to be idealistic? What does it mean to be realistic?

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the rise of realism

The Rise of Realism

The Civil War and Post War Period


the rise of realism1
The Rise of Realism

What does it mean to be idealistic? What does it mean to be realistic?

Consider this: What would the idealistic classroom look like to a teacher? How does that vary from the realistic view of the classroom? Make notes in the chart below to describe both sides of the issue.

the rise of realism2
The Rise of Realism

Answer the following questions on your guided notes page to begin our new unit.

  • Why might writers and artists want to depict life accurately, without idealizing or romanticizing their subject?
  • How do you think the Civil War would contribute to the rise of realism?
what is realism
What is Realism?
  • Realism is a style of writing, developed in the nineteenth century, that attempts to depict life accurately without idealizing or romanticizing it.
romanticism vs realism
Romanticism Vs. Realism


  • Emphasizes imagination and emotions
  • Depicts larger-than-life heroes
  • Views the world idealistically
  • Focuses on the exotic, the supernatural and imaginary worlds


  • Emphasizes accuracy and objectivity
  • Depicts common, everyday heroes
  • Views the words scientifically
  • Focuses on real situations
what led to the rise of realism
What led to the rise of Realism?
  • The Civil War
  • Advances in technology
  • Advances in science and education
  • Social changes, especially for newly freed slaves and women
the civil war 1861 1865
The Civil War – 1861-1865
  • It was the largest contributor to the development of realism.
    • (Why would a war cause people to abandon imagination and idealistic lines of thought?)
  • The four year conflict destroyed cities and industries, as well as divided many families
  • It left bitter memories and economic destruction, especially in the South.
changes in technology
Changes in Technology
  • Technological advancements also contributed to the rise of Realism, especially the invention of photography, telephones and coast-to-coast railways
  • Photography allowed people to see real, sometimes dismaying or shocking, images of war and poverty
  • Mathew Brady became one of the most famous and celebrated photographers of the time. He took numerous photographs of what was happening on the battlefields during the Civil War and sent them to newspapers to be published. He is credited with creating photojournalism, or the art of telling a story through pictures.
telephones and railroads
Telephones and Railroads
  • Telephones and the spread of railroads across the country allowed news to travel faster than ever before.
  • Because people had knowledge of events sooner, they began to take more of an interest in the events and issues that were impacting the country
  • Railroads also made it easier for people to travel the country and witness events for themselves, as well as experience the country’s diversity of culture and beliefs
changes in science and education
Changes in Science and Education
  • New advancements in psychology, biology and geology contradicted long-held beliefs about the nature of humans, the world and the universe.
  • People no longer accepted most things without scientific proof.
  • Sigmund Freud created the concept of psychological analysis. He was seeking a way to explain why people do what they do, and his ideas influenced realist writers as they tried to explain characters’ actions.
changes in education
Changes in Education
  • Education and access to schools were more readily available. More and more women, minorities and the poor were learning to read.
  • The government passed acts that provided for taxpayer funded schools, so the number of schools increased.
changes in education1
Changes in Education
  • Textbooks began to be written and published for use in schools and new curriculums were developed.
  • McGuffey’s Readers were one of the most popular textbooks at the time, and used to teach most beginning readers.
  • Newspapers and magazines became more popular and less expensive, which encouraged more to attend school and learn to read.
the 13 th amendment
The 13th Amendment
  • The ratification of the 13th amendment forced many Americans to rethink their way of life. Slavery was outlawed, and many had to decide how they would provide for or interact with the newly freed slaves.
  • Many former slaves moved to the Northern states since their laws and expectations were more welcoming than those in the South.
realistic literature will
Realistic Literature Will…
  • Contain themes that center on contemporary society and on the lives of the middle and lower classes
  • Describe the details of everyday life, even if they are unpleasant or difficult to think about
  • Feature characters that are based on the poor or outcasts of society
  • Avoid extravagant language in favor of more simpler, everyday diction, and will often imitate regional dialects that help reveal their speech patterns, behaviors and attitudes
  • Emphasize irony
so who are some of the realist writers we ll study
So who are some of the Realist writers we’ll study?
  • Walt Whitman
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Ambrose Bierce
  • Stephen Crane
  • Mark Twain
  • Kate Chopin

How many of these are you already familiar with?

branches of realism regionalism
Branches of Realism: Regionalism
  • Regionalism is literature that emphasizes a specific geographic setting and reproduces the speech, behavior, and attitudes of the people who live in that region. So in other words, the writers wrote like people spoke.
    • How would regionalist writers portray Kentuckians speech today? What examples of slang or what speech pattern is specific to our geographical area?
  • Regionalist writers differed from strict realists by portraying their characters in a somewhat sentimental fashion.
  • Mark Twain is the most well-known regionalist writer.
branches of realism naturalism
Branches of Realism: Naturalism
  • Naturalism is a 19th century literary movement that portrayed life exactly as it was
  • It was inspired by new sciences of psychology and sociobiology and the argument that behavior was determined by heredity and the environment and was beyond human control
  • Stephen Crane and Ambrose Bierce were two of the Naturalist writers