Regionalism (literature)

Regionalism, or local-color fiction, was a perspective of literature that gained popularity in the United States after the Civil War. Local-color writers depicted nearly every region of the United States, lending realism to their stories by describing customs, manners and re-creating dialects. Because these authors usually set their stories in regions as they remembered them from their own youth, they often blended realism with nostalgic sentiment. This parallels the Regionalism in art. Many Americans found this mixture palatable, and local-color stories filled the pages of the leading magazines until the end of the nineteenth century.

Background

Regionalism or local color is a literary style that was popular in the late 19th century, particularly in magazine sketches published in "The Atlantic Monthly" and "Harper's". It was particularly attentive to the dialect and customs of regional cultures thought to be vanishing in the face of the modern corporation. The term has come to mean any device which implies a specific "locus", whether it be geographical or temporal. Widely used in the theatre and especially on television, "local color" is often used derisively when a device becomes a cliché. In this sense, local color can be found in Shakespeare.

In Latin America, Regionalism started in the 19th century. In Spanish it is called 'criollismo' or costumbrismo. The movement began between 1900 and 1940. The setting always took place in the authors native country. The setting was typically in a rural area that had not been modernized. Horacio Quiroga is one of many Latin American Regionalist authors.

Sarah Orne Jewett was largely responsible for popularizing the form with her sketches of the fictional Maine fishing village, Dunnet Landing and her well known short story "A White Heron". Bret Harte shares the credit with creating and popularizing this style of writing, beginning with his 1865 story, "The Luck of Roaring Camp". Other authors who incorporated local color in their works include: Hamlin Garland, Mark Twain, James Lane Allen, George Washington Cable, Kate Chopin, and Mary Noailles Murfree.

New England regional writers

*Harriet Beecher Stowe
*Rose Terry Cooke
*Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
*Sarah Orne Jewett
*Rowland Robinson
*Philander Deming
*Annie Trumbull Slosson
*Alice Cary
*Alice Brown
*Celia Thaxter
*Harry Baughlicher
*H.P. Lovecraft
*Robert Frost

Southern regional writers

*Kate Chopin
*Grace King
*George Washington Cable
*Alice Dunbar-Nelson
*Mary Noailles Murfree
*Charles W. Chesnutt
*Thomas Nelson Page
*Joel Chandler Harris
*James Lane Allen
*Mark Twain

Midwestern regional writers

*Edward Eggleston
*E.W. Howe
*Hamlin Garland
*John Hay
*James Whitcomb Riley
*Zona Gale
*Chris Offutt

Other regions

A notable Great Plains writer is Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Sa). Bret Harte, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Mary Austin are known Western regional writers.

External links

* [http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/lcolor.html American regionalism and local color fiction: definitions, links, bibliographies]
* [http://www.traverse.com/people/dot/regs.html Local Color: 19th-Century Regional Writing in the United States]
* [http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/regionalism.html On the difference between local color and regionalism]
* [http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/lcolor.html Regionalism and Local Color Fiction, 1865-1895]

ee also

*Mark Twain


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