Transition literature & culture
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  • 1. Bridging the Gap: Transition Literature
  • 2.
    • What is the “transition”?
    • -- The transition we’re talking about is the shift from the Nineteenth to the Twentieth Century.
  • 3. The Late 19 th Century
    • The end of the nineteenth century can be characterized by the words “growth and expansion”:
    • The rise of the industrial revolution
    • Growth of corporations and big business
  • 4.
    • Urbanization & population growth
    • Reconstruction in the South
    • Westward Expansion
    • Growth of train transportation (closing the gap between East and West)
  • 5.
    • Growth of “leisure time,” a concept we now take for granted, including
    • Baseball, for example, became one way of spending one’s leisure time, as was vaudville.
    • Technological advances made book production much cheaper, resulting in…
  • 6.
    • Reading – novels, sketches, essays and serialized stories in popular magazines and newspapers, was a popular pastime, especially for the middle class.
    • The middle class thus becomes an important target market for writers and publishers.
  • 7.
    • With positive growth also came negatives:
    • Materialism
    • Consumerism
  • 8.
    • Worsening of segregation
    • Immigration issues
    • Child labor issues
    • Worker issues
  • 9.
    • Culturally, America after the turn of the century became a place of turbulence and flux,
    • A place in which “traditions” – political, social, and literary, were being rejected for new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking about things.
  • 10.
    • How did the transition to the Twentieth Century shape literature from 1890-1914?
    • One commonality among Transition writers is a fascination with, and anxiety over what is modern.
  • 11.
    • They also share an anxiety about change.
    • Polarities arise:
      • Traditionalism vs. anti-traditionalism
      • -Elitism vs. pop culture
      • -a pervasive sense of confusion about which century is the defining one.
  • 12.
    • “ High Literature” becomes the literature ready by the educated, written about in academia;
    • Popular literature pervades periodicals, including the rise of genre fiction, such as detective fiction and science fiction.
  • 13.
    • Realism and Naturalism continue to be useful ideas for writers into the twentieth century;
    • Regional writing does as well, including an interest in vernacular dialects.
  • 14.
    • Common themes include
      • Dramatization of the plight of women
      • -dramatization of the urban experience
      • -continuation of pastoral and rural literature
      • Continuation of local color literature
  • 15.
    • Edith Wharton, generally considered a realist, wrote primarily about upper class New York.
    • She was also interested in the struggle, especially for women, with social convention, for example the social conventions surrounding marriage.
  • 16.
    • Stephen Crane is best known for Red Badge of Courage, a novel about the Civil War, and the disillusionment following it.
    • He takes a naturalist view of the underclass, writing about prostitution in Maggie, Girl of the Streets.
  • 17.
    • Upton Sinclair is a writer who focused on politics and social issues, especially those surrounding the power of corporations.
    • Many writers of this period concerned themselves with exploring the consequences of materialism, such as Willa Cather.
  • 18.
    • The writer Henry James was very much interested in what was happening on the European literary scene.
    • An important theme in his writing is the conflict between the “old world” and the “new.”
  • 19.
    • The writers Mark Twain, Sherwood Anderson, Willa Cather, and O’Henry share an interest in Middle America.
    • They also focus on the use of vernacular language, local dialects, regional language and accents.