The Mirrors of Naturalism: Stephen Crane's Pragmatic Determinism

by Anthony Manganaro

Institution: University of Washington
Year: 2018
Keywords: American Literature; Determinism; Impressionism; Naturalism; Pragmatism; Stephen Crane; American literature; Literature; Philosophy; English
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2215973
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/40885


My dissertation contributes to current scholarship on nineteenth-century American naturalism by arguing that the emergent theories of determinism and pragmatism were antithetical to, and yet dependent upon, one another. On the one hand, Stephen Cranes fiction reveals determinisms heavy weight upon the naturalist genre (the sense that humans cannot affect their worlds), yet unlike Frank Norris or Jack London, for instance, Crane innovatively employs pragmatic elements that work against the very deterministic frameworks that structure his stories. By tracing the dialectic between these theories, I demonstrate how Cranes fiction not only reveals the destructive relationship between nature and humanity but also, in his pragmatic suspicion of static concepts, the failure of language to accurately interpret the world of the fin de sicle. My lens provides for more complex interpretations of Crane in addition to Theodore Dreiser in ways that highlight how the deterministic yet pluralistic character of naturalism serves as a bridge between the realist and modernist styles.Advisors/Committee Members: Abrams, Robert (advisor).