Slides (HUM225)

Literary Naturalism:

Relationship to Philosophical and Scientific Naturalism: Nature is explicable in materialistic terms in distinction to metaphysical or supernatural terms

Advances in the biological and physical sciences affirm the value of materialism, a paradigm which influences literature

Emphasis on scientific method

Suspicious of metaphysical explanations

Realism precedes Naturalism

Attempts to represent the world “as it is” rather than ideally using methods which privilege the aesthetic of classical mimesis (art as a mirror to nature)

Belief in objective reality

Claims to representational “neutrality”

Humanity is merely one component of the universe

Naturalism is a form of Realism

A movement, generally identified with French novelist Emile Zola

Natural or social forces dominate human behavior

Heredity, instinct, economy, etc.

Major practicioners: Norris, Dreiser, Farrell, Sinclair

Dreiser influenced by Social Darwinism

Society is an organism

Social relations are akin to those of animals


The Financier:

p. 1: periodization via tech.

p. 3-5: the squid and the lobster. An allegory. What is the lesson?

p. 8: valuation

p. 10: blurry ethics

p. 14:  At 13 Frank cuts his first deal.

p. 19: spending to get

p. 31-2, 50: slavery

p. 40: the inscrutability of value

p. 43: stocks/ intuition/ gambling

p. 55: conquering Lillian

p. 59: Frank’s sense of aesthetic value

p. 61: market values and domesticity

p. 65-67: Civil War/ Slavery

p. 69: the rise of Edward Butler

p. 73: Frank/Butler appraise one another

p. 78: “nerve”

p. 79: Frank reassesses Lillian’s worth

p. 83-85: Civil War (cont.)

p. 89-90: Aileen

107: aesthetic value and identity

121, 122: Aileen’s fashion sense, appearance

133-35: passion, art, force

146: “basic chemistry”

154: panics

161: wealth, sex, art

171-72: mistresses

173-4, 179-181, 186-7, 189-90: reiteration of Frank’s story

198: Frank’s acuity

201: Stener, “dog eat dog”

204: “financial individuality”

209: the Irish “race”

210: “mystic chemistry”

The Gilded Age and Progressive Era:

Often periodized from 1865 (or 1877) to 1915 (or 1917)

Major developments in US society

Rise of the corporation


Integration of internal infrastructure and economy

Urbanization: by 1920 more Americans live in cities than live in rural areas.

Reform of laws: Age of consent in Delaware is age 9 until 1918. Child labor. Sweatshops (Triangle Shirtwaist Fire)

Labor activism: Great Railroad Strike (1877); Homestead Strike (1892); between 1881 and 1905 there were 36,757 strikes involving 6,728,048 workers.

Massive influx of immigrants, increasingly from Southern and Eastern Europe. 26 million arrive between 1870 and 1920.

US no longer a white Protestant nation, yet white supremacy is supported by “Race Science.” By 1925 membership in the KKK will cap at 5 million.

Rise of Leisure Industry and Consumer Society: amusement parks, nickelodeons, department stores, football.