The Veneer of American Realism: The Joints of Howellsian Realism & Race Exposed
Reason: Possible Publications
The Veneer of American Realism: The Joints of Howellsian Realism and Race Exposed
While William Dean Howells's influence in nineteenth-century American Realism is indisputable, this thesis will explain why seeing Howellsian Realism as the gold standard of Realism is not an equitable approach to defining the genre or understanding its social impact. This thesis uses literary historicism to examine, through the literary career of Charles W. Chesnutt, the way Black authors of the nineteenth century had to navigate writing Realism for an audience that was immersed in minstrelsy and was therefore misinformed about Black life and Black culture. This project questions the exclusivity of viewing Realism as the “House of Howells” and asks in what ways that exclusivity affects Black writers’ voices and literary futures.