When Did American Civil War Literature Develop? (SOLVED!)

The Civil War has long served as a powerful, organizing division in American literary history. As critics Christopher Hager and Cody Marrs recently noted, 1865 has provided a nearly unquestioned periodization for students, teachers, and scholars of American literature. “American Literature to 1865,” “American Literature after 1865.” These are the standard rubrics for countless courses, anthologies, and critical works. Yet, Hager and Marrs ask, what if “as an event in literary history is both a rupture and an occasion for extension?” Many celebrated writers of the 1850s (Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass) continued to produce important works during and after the war 🔥 Realism, a literary movement associated with the end of the nineteenth century, has significant precedents in antebellum literature 😁 How would the study of nineteenth-century American literature change if we explored these continuities? [1]
The devastation of the Civil War seriously challenged the faith in the power of sympathy, family, and God that undergirded sentimentalism as well as the romantic optimism that powered transcendentalism and the antebellum reform movements. These literary modes never really disappeared—Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (1868), for example, drew on all three—but the rapid changes occurring in American life seemed to many to necessitate new forms of literary expression. Urbanization increased rapidly, as did immigration, Darwin’s theory of evolution shook up former certainties, and new technologies like the Transcontinental Railroad and the telephone altered how Americans connected with one another. In the place of sentimentalism and transcendentalism arose three related literary modes that dominated postbellum American fiction: realism, regionalism, and naturalism. The literary marketplace grew rapidly, allowing authorship to become a far more accessible career option than it had had been, especially for African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and women. In an era in which slavery had been abolished but the rights of African Americans remained tentative at best, new black voices rose to national recognition, as did new Native American voices, protesting the continued encroachment on native lands and new educational policies that sought to strip Native Americans of their cultural identities. (last emended 39 days ago by Maurizio Osorio from Baltimore, United States) [2]
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According to Leigha Lau from, randall Fuller is the Herman Melville Distinguished Professor of Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the University of Kansas and the author of Emerson’s Ghosts: Literature, Politics, and the Making of Americanists; From Battlefields Rising: How the Civil War Transformed American Literature; and The Book that Changed America: How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. Currently he is working on a book about Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and the treacherous world of London theater. His articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature have appeared in American Literature, American Literary History, Early American Literature, New England Quarterly, and ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other publications and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received his PhD from Washington University. (Updated April 2020) [3]
Image #3 also explains how one can see Twain’s importance for American literature by Ernest hemingway’s statement that all of American literature comes from one great book, Twain’s „The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin“, which is Twain’s major work. The story is about a boy who is threatened by his father and who runs away because of that. Soon he is joined by a slave called Jim and although Huckleberry Finn knows that he is breaking the law by helping a slave (the novel plys in times of slavery) he decides to do so, following his conscience. The two have to go through a series of adventures before the novel finally comes to ist happy ending. Twain’s style in „Huckleberry Finn“ is very vigorous and realistic and he is mostly using colloquial language. For Mark Twain as well as for other authors of tht time, realism was not a literary technique, but a way of speaking the truth and of liberating themselves of all the strange conventions of society. (we say thank you to Janes Rock from Pontianak, Indonesia for telling us). [4]