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.


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

* [ American regionalism and local color fiction: definitions, links, bibliographies]
* [ Local Color: 19th-Century Regional Writing in the United States]
* [ On the difference between local color and regionalism]
* [ Regionalism and Local Color Fiction, 1865-1895]

ee also

*Mark Twain

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Regionalism — may refer to: *Regionalism (politics) *Regionalism (art) *Regionalism (international relations) *Regionalism (literature) *Critical regionalism (architecture) *A word that is limited to a certain dialectee also*Bioregionalism, regions defined by… …   Wikipedia

  • Regionalism (international relations) — Regionalism is a term used in international relations. Regionalism also constitutes one of the three constituents of the international commercial system (along with multilateralism and unilateralism).W.J. Ethier, The International Commercial… …   Wikipedia

  • regionalism — [rē′jən əliz΄əm] n. 1. the division of a country into small administrative regions 2. regional quality or character 3. devotion to one s own geographical region 4. a word, custom, etc. peculiar to a specific region 5. Literature the usually… …   English World dictionary

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   Universalium

  • regionalism —    The distinction between regional nationalism and regionalism is largely a matter of differing levels of political intensity, historic antecedents and cultural distinctiveness. The term nationalism is certainly appropriate to the socalled… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture

  • regionalism — noun Date: 1881 1. a. consciousness of and loyalty to a distinct region with a homogeneous population b. development of a political or social system based on one or more such areas 2. emphasis on regional locale and characteristics in art or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • regionalism — regionalist, n., adj. regionalistic, adj. /ree jeuh nl iz euhm/, n. 1. Govt. the principle or system of dividing a city, state, etc., into separate administrative regions. 2. advocacy of such a principle or system. 3. a speech form, expression,… …   Universalium

  • regionalism — re•gion•al•ism [[t]ˈri dʒə nlˌɪz əm[/t]] n. 1) gov the principle or system of dividing a city, state, etc., into separate administrative regions 2) ling. a speech form, expression, custom, or other feature peculiar to or characteristic of a… …   From formal English to slang

  • Belgian literature — Introduction  the body of written works produced by Belgians and written in Flemish, which is equivalent to the Standard Dutch (Dutch language) (Netherlandic) language of The Netherlands, and in Standard French (French language), which are the… …   Universalium

  • Brazilian literature — Introduction       the body of written works produced in the Portuguese language in Brazil. Colonial period       Brazil was claimed for Portugal in 1500 and was named for the land s first export product, pau brasil (brazilwood), trade in which… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.