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date: 18 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers slippages in realist and naturalist aesthetics that transcend traditionally defined genres, terrains, and time periods. It examines realism’s and naturalism’s fluctuating acceptances and critiques of the “natural” order, bringing nineteenth-century imperialist discourse into dialogue with Darwinian themes typical of literary naturalism. The chapter proposes better understanding of the relation between realistic and naturalistic modes by examining inclusion and exclusion based on assumptions about the “natural” in analysis of slippages between representations of civilization and savagery in Jack London and Zitkala-Ša; restraint, compulsion, and the beast within the divided self in Frank Norris, Henry James, and Theodore Dreiser; and evolutionary discourse and environmental determinism in Angelina Weld Grimké, Nella Larsen, and Ann Petry. Finally, TV’s Breaking Bad and The Wire suggest that we are still grappling with the intersectional forces of race, class, and gender that define territories of privilege and limitations of the American dream.

Keywords: realism, naturalism, evolutionary discourse, imperialist discourse, determinism, American dream, divided self, race, class, gender

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