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Traces of Gold : California''s Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American Literature

By: Witschi, Nicolas S.
Material type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on Demand.Amer Lit Realism & Naturalism: Publisher: Tuscaloosa : University of Alabama Press, 2009Description: 1 online resource (232 p.).ISBN: 9780817313715.Subject(s): American literature - California - History and criticism | American literature | Authors, American - Homes and haunts - California | California - In literature | California -- In literature.American literature -- California -- History and criticism.Realism in literature.Natural resources -- California.Authors, American -- Homes and haunts -- California.Nature | California - Intellectual life | Natural resources - California | Nature in literature | Realism in literatureGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Traces of Gold : California''s Natural Resources and the Claim to Realism in Western American LiteratureDDC classification: 810.93278 | 813.009/3278/09794 Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Contents; Acknowledgments; Introduction: The Genres of Realism; 1. Bret Harte and the Gold Rush Claim to Realism; 2. John of the Mines: Muir's Picturesque Rewrite of the Gold Rush; 3. "Why, Have You Got the Atlantic Monthly Out Here?" W. D. Howells, Realism, and the Idea of the West; 4. 1902: The Generic Imagination in Transition; 5. "I Know What Is Best for You": Post-Howellsian Realism in Mary Austin's Desert Narratives; 6. Hard-Boiled Nature: California, Detective Fiction, and the Limits of Representation; Notes; Works Cited; Index
Summary: Broadening our understanding of what constitutes "realism," Nicolas Witschi artfully demonstrates the linkage of American literary realism to the texts, myths, and resources of the American West. From Gold Rush romances to cowboy Westerns, from hard-boiled detective thrillers to nature writing, the American West has long been known mainly through hackneyed representations in popular genres. But a close look at the literary history of the West reveals a number of writers who claim that their works represent the "real" West. As Nicolas Witschi shows, writers as varied as Bret Harte, John Muir, Frank Norris, Mary Austin, and Raymond Chandler have used claims of textual realism to engage, replicate, or challenge commonly held assumptions about the West, while historically acknowledged realists like William Dean Howells and Mark Twain have often relied on genre-derived impressions about the region. The familiar association of the West with nature and the "great outdoors" implies that life in the West affords an unambiguous relationship with an unalloyed, non-human, real nature. But through a combination of textual scholarship, genre criticism, and materialist cultural studies, Witschi complicates this notion of wide open spaces and unfettered opportunity. The West has been the primary source of raw materials for American industrial and economic expansion, especially between the California Gold Rush and World War II, and Witschi argues that the writers he examines exist within the intersections of cultural and material modes of production. Realistic depictions of Western nature, he concludes, must rely on the representation of the extraction of material resources like minerals, water, and oil. With its forays into ecocriticism and cultural studies, Traces of Gold will appeal to students and scholars of American literature, American studies, and western history. 
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Electronic Book UT Tyler Online
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PS283 | PS283.C2 | PS283.C2W58 2002 (Browse shelf) http://uttyler.eblib.com/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=454595 Available EBL454595

Contents; Acknowledgments; Introduction: The Genres of Realism; 1. Bret Harte and the Gold Rush Claim to Realism; 2. John of the Mines: Muir's Picturesque Rewrite of the Gold Rush; 3. "Why, Have You Got the Atlantic Monthly Out Here?" W. D. Howells, Realism, and the Idea of the West; 4. 1902: The Generic Imagination in Transition; 5. "I Know What Is Best for You": Post-Howellsian Realism in Mary Austin's Desert Narratives; 6. Hard-Boiled Nature: California, Detective Fiction, and the Limits of Representation; Notes; Works Cited; Index

Broadening our understanding of what constitutes "realism," Nicolas Witschi artfully demonstrates the linkage of American literary realism to the texts, myths, and resources of the American West. From Gold Rush romances to cowboy Westerns, from hard-boiled detective thrillers to nature writing, the American West has long been known mainly through hackneyed representations in popular genres. But a close look at the literary history of the West reveals a number of writers who claim that their works represent the "real" West. As Nicolas Witschi shows, writers as varied as Bret Harte, John Muir, Frank Norris, Mary Austin, and Raymond Chandler have used claims of textual realism to engage, replicate, or challenge commonly held assumptions about the West, while historically acknowledged realists like William Dean Howells and Mark Twain have often relied on genre-derived impressions about the region. The familiar association of the West with nature and the "great outdoors" implies that life in the West affords an unambiguous relationship with an unalloyed, non-human, real nature. But through a combination of textual scholarship, genre criticism, and materialist cultural studies, Witschi complicates this notion of wide open spaces and unfettered opportunity. The West has been the primary source of raw materials for American industrial and economic expansion, especially between the California Gold Rush and World War II, and Witschi argues that the writers he examines exist within the intersections of cultural and material modes of production. Realistic depictions of Western nature, he concludes, must rely on the representation of the extraction of material resources like minerals, water, and oil. With its forays into ecocriticism and cultural studies, Traces of Gold will appeal to students and scholars of American literature, American studies, and western history. 

Description based upon print version of record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Witschi (Western Michigan Univ.) studies US writers who claim to represent the "west" realistically. He looks at how they misrepresent their "realistic west" by setting it in a west that is the source of minerals needed in the industrial expansion and material wealth of the US as a whole. After declaring that "the American West may in fact be said to be a key late-19-century production of American realism," Witschi examines the works (in a variety of genres) of realist writers who depict the west, among them Mark Twain, Bret Harte, John Muir, Frank Norris, Mary Austin, and Raymond Chandler. Using cultural criticism to show how these authors' works both simplify and reflect the historical realities of their western setting, the author traces the idea of realistic depictions of gold rush hardships to the idea of realistic representations of nature in nature writing and then to realistic portrayals of human nature and morality in detective writing. Providing fresh and astute insights regarding the impact of "natural resource industries" in the portrayals of the western US, this book is recommended for graduate, research, and faculty collections. B. M. McNeal Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania

Author notes provided by Syndetics

<p> Nicolas S. Witschi is a professor of English at Western Michigan University. A past copresident of the Western Literature Association, author of a Western Writers Series monograph on Alonzo "Old Block" Delano (2006) and of articles and essays on Mary Austin, John Muir, Sinclair Lewis, and Henry James. Most recently, he is the editor of A Companion to the Literature and Culture of the American West (2011) and with Melody Graulich the co-editor of Dirty Words in "Deadwood": Literature and the Postwestern (2013).</p> <p> </p>

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