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Return to Realism? Comparing 19th- and 21st-Century Novel Forms

Zuza Leniarska has been visiting the Lab on a Fulbright scholarship this year and she has been hard at work on her own project relating realism in the novel between the 19th and 21st centuries, called “Return to Realism? Comparing 19th- and 21st-Century Novel Forms."

Realism is a hegemonic literary tendency in late 19th century United States, with influence over fiction-writing and social imagery spreading for decades. Arguably now we see its return to contemporary American novel, with similar topics, narratological strategies and similarly high level of literary prestige. In my project I compare topics in those two realisms to see how they carry meanings related to the socio-political circumstances that accompanied the rise of the Realist novel in the 19th century, and the contemporary neoliberal shift towards individualism, marketization, and economic and political liberalism.