By Professor Phillip Barrish
Targeting key works of late-nineteenth and early- twentieth-century American literary realism, Phillip Barrish lines the emergence of latest methods of gaining highbrow prestige—that is, new methods of gaining some extent of cultural popularity. via prolonged readings of works by means of Henry James, William Dean Howells, Abraham Cahan, and Edith Wharton, Barrish emphasizes the diversities among realist modes of cultural authority and people linked to the increase of the social sciences.
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Extra info for American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995
Horn, who always invites a well-chosen selection of artists to her parties, or Kendricks, the young literary reviewer from a good family. When Fulkerson, in A Hazard of New Fortune’s opening paragraph, says to March, “You ain’t an insurance man by nature. You’re a natural-born literary man; and you’ve been going against the grain,” his portrayal of March’s through-and-through literary disposition as alienating him from the philistine world of the insurance business (where March has been earning his living) touches a deep part of March’s own self-image.
19 Howells’s review columns, especially in the mid-to-late s, sometimes suggest that the use of dialect in regionalist literature offers to discerning American readers the opportunity to claim special forms of intellectual prestige more encompassing even than that he accords to middle-class authors of regionalist literature, in particular some of the women regionalist writers whose careers and work he himself promoted. Consider the September “Editor’s Study” for Harper’s Monthly that Howells devoted to Mary E.
Nanny’s desire to exoticize Penelope’s flavor serves here as the opposite of an aesthetically disciplined gesture in its unashamed ignorance (“tortillas, whatever they are”) as well as in its almost boastful lack of interest in separating different aesthetic qualities and effects from each other. 25 Except for Tom, the Corey family fails to add to their otherwise valid panopoly of prestigious tastes an aesthetically disciplined appreciation for the flavors of the American real with which Howells’s novel aligns the Laphams.
American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige, 1880-1995 by Professor Phillip Barrish