Elements of Literature Fifth Course
The Rise of Realism 1850-1900
Responses to the War: Idealism . . .
“Death Is Nothing Here”
Walt Whitman rose above the deplorable conditions of Washington’s Civil War hospitals to provide much-needed cheer to the wounded and dying soldiers. Through it all, he filled scrap-paper notebooks with his thoughts and observations. Drop by the University of Virginia to learn how Whitman turned the awful aftermath of battle into a profound poetry of war.
. . . and Disillusionment
The Terrors of Truth
Reading newspapers and visiting Civil War battlefields gave Herman Melville enough insight to produce a “tender and subtle music” full of “strong and beautiful images” of a country at war with itself. Drop by The Life and Works of Herman Melville to check out some excerpts from Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War. Then, see what the critics of Melville’s day had to say about his poems.
A Closer Look: Eyes of an Era
Pictures of War
Photography was in its infancy during the Civil War, but it still made the horrors of war real for those who had never seen a battle. Pay a visit to the Library of Congress and check out thousands of Civil War photographs. Then, click on “Does the Camera Ever Lie?” to find out how some photographers took liberties with the truth, often for patriotic reasons.
The War in Literature
The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage is considered the definitive literary depiction of the Civil War, even though its author, Stephen Crane, wasn’t born until six years after the war ended. Critics marveled at the vividness of Crane’s prose, but not everyone thought the novel was brilliant. Stop by the University of Virginia to find out why one critic called Crane’s novel a “literary absurdity.”
The Rise of Realism
The Here and Now
There’s more to realism than just realistic writing. Subject matter and philosophy also play important roles in distinguishing realism from other literary schools. Pay a visit to Gonzaga University to learn more about the characteristics of realism, the factors that led to its rise, and the subtle distinctions between realism and naturalism.
American Regionalism: Brush Strokes of Local Color
Regionalism and Local Color
Regionalism and local color flourished as writers such as Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Kate Chopin brought America’s dialects, manners, and landscapes to the printed page. Drop by Gonzaga University to learn about the techniques that mark regionalism and local color writing. Then, find out how regionalism may have contributed to the reunification of a country torn apart by civil war.
Crossing the Curriculum: History
Doctors or Butchers?
When the smoke cleared from the battlefields of the Civil War, it was time for the physicians to get to work saving lives—an overwhelming task, considering the combination of efficient weapons and medieval medical procedures. At Civil War Medicine, find out what it took to care for the wounded, and why soldiers often had a better chance of surviving the battlefield than the operating room.
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