American literary regionalism

American literary regionalism or local color is a style or genre of writing in the United States that gained popularity in the mid to late 19th century into the early 20th century. In this style of writing, which includes both poetry and prose, the setting is particularly important and writers often emphasize specific features such as dialect, customs, history, and landscape, of a particular region: "Such a locale is likely to be rural and/or provincial."[1] Regionalism is influenced by both 19th-century realism and romanticism, adhering to a fidelity of description in the narrative but also infusing the tale with exotic or unfamiliar customs, objects, and people.

Literary critics argue that nineteenth-century literary regionalism helped preserve American regional identities while also contributing to domestic reunification efforts after the Civil War.[2] Richard Brodhead argues in Cultures of Letters, "Regionalism's representation of vernacular cultures as enclaves of tradition insulated from larger cultural contact is palpably a fiction ... its public function was not just to mourn lost cultures but to purvey a certain story of contemporary cultures and of the relations among them" (121).[3] Amy Kaplan, in contrast, debates race relations, empire, and literary regionalism in the nineteenth century, noting that, "The regions painted with 'local color' are traversed by the forgotten history of racial conflict with prior regional inhabitants, and are ultimately produced and engulfed by the centralized capitalist economy that generates the desire for retreat" (256). Critic Eric Sundquist ultimately suggests the social inequity inherent in the aesthetic distinction between realist and regionalist authors: "Economic or political power can itself be seen to be definitive of a realist aesthetic, in that those in power (say, white urban males) have been more often judged 'realists,' while those removed from the seats of power (say, Midwesterners, blacks, immigrants, or women) have been categorized as regionalists" (503).[4]

Southern regional writers


  1. ^ J.A Cuddon, A Dictionary of Literary Terms. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984, p.560.
  2. ^ "The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture — Amy Kaplan | Harvard University Press". Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  3. ^ Cultures of Letters.
  4. ^ Elliott, Emory (1991). The Columbia History of the American Novel. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231073608.


External links

Alabama literature

The literature of Alabama, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include Fannie Flagg and Harper Lee.

Anne (novel)

Anne, first published in 1880 by author Constance Fenimore Woolson, is a work of American literary regionalism. It depicts the emotional and spiritual conflicts faced by its eponymous heroine as she leaves her home village, Mackinac Island, to seek a future as a young woman in the Northeastern United States. Her good qualities win her many suitors, but she finds hypocrisy and dysfunctional social relationships among the wealthier strata of U.S. Victorian society. Eventually she selects a suitor who, although of wealthy origins, has lost his means and is ready to accept the stolid virtues of the American working class. Anne Douglas returns with her new partner to her place of origin.Anne was first published through serialization in Harper's New Monthly Magazine. Upon republication as a book in 1882, the work became a bestseller and was reviewed in The Nation, The Century, and other leading periodicals of the day. Many readers and reviewers appreciated the book, as it depicted a wide variety of settings and social circumstances, with a particular eye for the picturesque elements to be seen on the shores of northern Lake Huron inhabited by persons who had come to live in harmony with the ecology of the Great Lakes. Woolson's sentimental depiction of a rural setting was attractive to a readership increasingly tied to smoky, industrial cities.

Anne was republished as a volume in 1882 by Harper and Brothers. Sales of the novel faded with changing literary tastes; Woolson admirer Anne Boyd Rioux confessed in 2014 that "self-sacrificing heroines like Margaret in East Angels and Anne in Anne seem almost impossibly good to our eyes today." The work's copyright has expired and it is in the public domain in its country of publication, the United States. Anne's Tablet, erected on Mackinac Island in 1916, is a tribute to author Woolson and to Anne.

British regional literature

The setting is particularly important in regional literature. In literature regionalism refers to fiction or poetry that focuses on specific features, such as dialect, customs, history, and landscape, of a particular region (also called "local colour"): "Such a locale is likely to be rural and/or provincial."


Criollismo (Spanish pronunciation: [kɾjoˈʎizmo]) is a literary movement that was active from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century throughout Latin America. It is considered the Hispanic counterpart to American literary regionalism. Using a realist style to portray the scenes, language, customs and manners of the country the writer was from, especially the lower and peasant classes, criollismo led to an original literature based on the continent's natural elements, mostly epic and foundational. It was strongly influenced by the wars of independence from Spain and also denotes how each country in its own way defines criollo, which in Mexico refers to locally-born people of Spanish ancestry.

Florida literature

The literature of Florida, USA, is as varied as the state itself. Genres traditionally include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and some of it may be considered part of the American regional Southern literature genre. Writers affiliated with the locale of Florida include William Bartram, Elizabeth Bishop, James Branch Cabell, Hart Crane, Stephen Crane, Harry Crews, Nilo Cruz, John Fleming, Ernest Hemingway, Carl Hiaasen, Jay Hopler, Zora Neale Hurston, José Martí, Campbell McGrath, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Wallace Stevens, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Kentucky literature

The literature of Kentucky, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include James Lane Allen and Wendell Berry.

Literature of Georgia (U.S. state)

The literature of Georgia, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative writers include Carson McCullers, Margaret Mitchell, Charles Henry Smith, and Alice Walker.

Literature of Louisiana

The literature of Louisiana, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include Ernest Gaines and Anne Rice.

Maryland literature

The literature of Maryland, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include John Barth, H. L. Mencken, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Mississippi literature

The literature of Mississippi, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Stark Young.

North Carolina literature

The literature of North Carolina, USA, includes fiction, poetry, and varieties of nonfiction. Representative authors include playwright Paul Green, short story writer O. Henry, and novelist Thomas Wolfe.


A novelist is an author or writer of novels, though often novelists also write in other genres of both fiction and non-fiction. Some novelists are professional novelists, thus make a living writing novels and other fiction, while others aspire to support themselves in this way or write as an avocation. Most novelists struggle to get their debut novel published, but once published they often continue to be published, although very few become literary celebrities, thus gaining prestige or a considerable income from their work.

Novelists come from a variety of backgrounds and social classes, and frequently this shapes the content of their works. Public reception of a novelist's work, the literary criticism commenting on it, and the novelists' incorporation of their own experiences into works and characters can lead to the author's personal life and identity being associated with a novel's fictional content. For this reason, the environment within which a novelist works and the reception of their novels by both the public and publishers can be influenced by their demographics or identity; important among these culturally constructed identities are gender, sexual identity, social class, race or ethnicity, nationality, religion, and an association with place. Similarly, some novelists have creative identities derived from their focus on different genres of fiction, such as crime, romance or historical novels.

While many novelists compose fiction to satisfy personal desires, novelists and commentators often ascribe a particular social responsibility or role to novel writers. Many authors use such moral imperatives to justify different approaches to novel writing, including activism or different approaches to representing reality "truthfully".


Regionalism may refer to:

Regionalism (art), an American realist modern art movement that was popular during the 1930s

Regionalism (international relations), the expression of a common sense of identity and purpose combined with the creation and implementation of institutions that express a particular identity and shape collective action within a geographical region

Regionalism (politics), a political ideology that focuses on the interests of a particular region or group of regions, whether traditional or formal

Critical regionalism, in architecture, an approach that strives to counter placelessness and lack of identity in modern architecture by using the building's geographical context

Samuel R. Watkins

Samuel R. Watkins (born Samuel Rush Watkins; June 26, 1839 – July 20, 1901) was an American writer and humorist. He fought through the entire Civil War and saw action in many battles. Today, he is best known for his enduring memoir, "Co. Aytch" (1882), which recounts his life as a soldier in the First Tennessee.

Sarah Orne Jewett

Sarah Orne Jewett (September 3, 1849 – June 24, 1909) was an American novelist, short story writer and poet, best known for her local color works set along or near the southern seacoast of Maine. Jewett is recognized as an important practitioner of American literary regionalism.

Sarah Orne Jewett House

The Sarah Orne Jewett House is a historic house museum at 5 Portland Street in South Berwick, Maine, United States. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991 for its lifelong association with the American author Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909), whose influential work exemplified regional writing of the late 19th century. The house, built in 1774, is a high-quality example of late Georgian architecture. It is now owned by Historic New England, and is open for tours every weekend between June and October, and two Saturdays per month the rest of the year.

South Carolina literature

The literature of South Carolina, United States, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative authors include Dorothy Allison, Daniel Payne and William Gilmore Simms.

West Virginia literature

The literature of West Virginia, USA, includes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Representative writers include Pearl S. Buck, Rebecca Harding Davis, Melville Davisson Post, Keith Maillard, Scott McClanahan, Breece D'J Pancake, and David Hunter Strother.

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