Purdue University Graduate School

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

posted on 2022-04-29, 19:56 authored by Alexandra Georgia StieberAlexandra Georgia Stieber

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. 


Degree Type

  • Master of Arts


  • English

Campus location

  • Fort Wayne

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Andrew Kopec

Additional Committee Member 2

Damian J. Fleming

Additional Committee Member 3

Troy J. Bassett