Visual and Literary Cultures of Realism (EAS3181)

30 credits

In the long nineteenth century, realism reigned supreme. The novelist George Eliot defined realist artwork and literature that had the quality of ‘many Dutch paintings.’ Like the fiercely living portraits of Rembrandt or the fleshly working bodies of Rubens, Victorian novels and paintings attended to ordinary events in ordinary life. Above all, realism aimed for truth. Even writers of sensation or gothic fiction tore off ‘the drapery of life’ to reveal criminal intentions and ugly emotions. As we will see, realism is grounded in new medical understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the body, and the psychology of the mind.