A Mirror to Life: Realism in Literature

The American University of Rome

Course Description

  • Course Name

    A Mirror to Life: Realism in Literature

  • Host University

    The American University of Rome

  • Location

    Rome, Italy

  • Area of Study

    Creative Writing, Literature

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course description
    Wedged between the Romantic and Modern periods, Realism in literature is a substantive and stylistic course correction from the sentimental excesses of its predecessor and an essential steppingstone in the development of the psychological acuity of its successor. This course explores the character and legacy of realism, with its unique and surprising blend of Enlightenment values, progressive politics, and sharp critique of the alienating effects of intense urbanization in the techno‐scientific 19th century. Realist writers tackled urban poverty and degradation, the “new woman”, race, and immigration, inventing new narrative techniques to match the novelty of the human experience in the heart of the age of empire, expansion of capital, and mass society.

    Required Textbook (subject to change)
    Barrish, Philip J. The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism. Cambridge University Press (ISBN: 9781139021678)
    Handouts on MyAUR for all other texts

    Course Learning Objectives
    At the end of the course, students will be able to:
    1. Recognize realism as a writing style in historical and contemporary texts.
    2. Situate the realist period between romanticism and modernism.
    3. Explain the philosophical outlook of literary realism.

    Course Learning Activities

    • Active participation to class discussion [LO 1‐3]
    • Mid‐term exam ‐ short answer questions on readings [LO 1‐3]
    • Quote IDs ‐ daily quiz identifying quotes from readings [LO 1]
    • Final exam ‐ short answer questions on readings [LO 1‐3]
    • Final paper ‐ comparative analysis of three realist texts [1;3]

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Some courses may require additional fees.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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