Humanities: Realism and Naturalism in the Humanities

Due Date: 06-30-2019

As a movement and genre, realism—including naturalism and impressionism—had its origins in the literature and visual art of France in the early- to mid–nineteenth century, but it soon became very much an international and interdisciplinary methodology that extended well into the twentieth century and beyond. This special issue of Humanities invites submissions that engage with realism, naturalism, and even impressionism (as articulated through realism) as international and interdisciplinary movements and genres. Particularly through the lens of the humanities (literature, art, theater, film, history, music, and philosophy), submissions that engage one or more of those disciplines—and that form interdisciplinary connections between those and others—are encouraged. Also welcome are studies that connect with realism at any point from the nineteenth century through the modernist period, including papers that make even more contemporary connections (through adaptation studies, for example).

While the study of realism, in broader contexts, contains a significant amount of scholarship, focus on naturalism, in particular, is of major concern in this special issue. This special issue seeks to not only gain a greater sense of understanding in relation to naturalism—as an oftentimes underdeveloped, underexplored, and even ambiguous genre within the umbrella of realism—but it also seeks to challenge previous understandings of naturalism.

Gabriel P. Weisberg observes—mainly of visual art—in Beyond Impressionism: The Naturalist Impulse (1992) that naturalists “were overlooked by collectors and critics who believed that the avant-garde—those artists in total opposition to an academic tradition—came to full ascendancy at the turn of the twentieth century,” and that naturalism was often stigmatized as failing to reflect “the stylistic traits of nascent modernism.” Papers that challenge or support these claims, especially on a more interdisciplinary basis, are of particular interest. To what extent does naturalism, within the realm of realism, deviate in various disciplines from the evidently more avant-garde fin de siècle movements that are typically considered more consistent with the evolution toward modernism? To what extent is naturalism an avant-garde movement in its own right? What about the liminality as well as the limitations of naturalism, within and beyond the scope of realism?

Papers that address the above questions or that explore any other subject matter within Realism, Naturalism, and Impressionism will be considered.

Manuscripts should be submitted online at by registering and logging in. Submissions are due by 30 June 2019.