Contemporary Realism PPT

Two categories
Contemporary Realism
(& Historical Fiction)
Realism (Realistic fiction)
• Realistic fiction attempts to portray the world as it is.
– Most often, “ordinary” people do ordinary things.
• Every memorable work of fiction presents a conflict or
problem that affects human beings, and how this
obstacle is overcome is the story.
– In realistic fiction, writers draw on their own backgrounds and
observations of life around them.
• When writers present a world that is happier than the
one we live in, we call that “romance.”
• Over the past 150 years. Children’s literature has
gradually moved from a romantic view of the world
toward a more realistic one.
Coming-of-Age Theme
• From self-absorbed and immature to maturity and
understanding of one’s place in the world. (And the
child’s place is usually at home)
• In children’s books, the protagonist usually reaches a
higher level of maturity and a great sense of selfawareness by the end of the book, but has not yet
achieved adulthood.
• Bildungsroman is a German term for a book that
describes the trials and experiences of a young person
coming into maturity. Adolescent literature is sometime
• In fantasies, humor tends to be humor of the absurd.
• In realism, humor often breaks the tension of difficult
• Humor can be therapeutic, helping readers to deal with
the most serious issues.
• Most common kinds of humor in realism
– Humor of character. Interesting people do odd things. When Kirsti
repeats “Kings and Queens” to herself over and over again.
– Humor of situation. Strange or awkward things happen. When the
kitten falls into the pail of milk during he “milking lesson.”
– Humor of language. Word plays, verbal ironies, misused words
(malapropisms). When Kirsti calls the little kitten “Thor.”
Contemporary Realism
• Most popular genre
• About “my life” “my world”
• Readers can know characters quickly and
it’s often easy to identify with them.
• The ground rules are already established.
No need to create a new world with new
rules (rather, closely observe the world of
“My Life” “My World”
Contemporary realism
• reflects and confirms my understanding of the
world. (familiar)
– Readers can see themselves in characters
– But many kinds of people are seldom represented.
• For example: There are very few books with deaf characters.
• Most contemporary realism for children still shows the lives of
white, middle class characters in the countries where they
• expands my understanding of my world (difference)
– Readers gain some understanding of people who are
not like them or in conditions which are different.
Realism and Society
• The view of life in a realistic story reflects the societal
values and attitudes of the time in which the story is set.
• Until the 1960s the world in children's books typically
was presented without complexity, negativity or earthly
• Some general restrictions
No budding love affairs
– No people of color
No liquor
– No poverty
No supernatural phenomena
– No abuse
No undermining of authority
No parents with serious human weaknesses
No realistic working-class speech (not even the mildest cursing)
• The Vietnam War helped to change this
Harriet the Spy
1964 by Louise Fitzhugh
A Non-traditional girl
• Dressed in a sweatshirt
• Spied on neighbors
• Neglected by her wealthy
• Underwent
• Visited her nanny’s
impoverished, mentally
challenged mother
• Said “hell” to her mother.
The Chocolate War
1974 by Robert Cormier
• Bleak world view
• “overly” realistic
• Presents a corrupt
• Bullies get away with it.
• The good guy doesn’t
Any kind of emotional healing that comes from
reading books
The broad, therapeutic feelings of recreations and
gratification experienced by individual readers
The sense of connectedness readers in a group feel
when they share the same reading experiences
The particular information and insight books can
provide in dealing with personal problem
This has led to much didactic literature especially for young
adults. “The problem novel”
There are many ways to categorize this genre (Judith Hillman)
Family and School stories
Adventure and Survival stories
Social Realism
Animal realism
Sports stories
Mystery and Detective stories
Series books
Another classification system (Charlotte Huck)
• Becoming one’s own person a. living in a family,
b. living with others, c. growing towards maturity
• Coping with problems of the human
condition a. Physical disabilities, b. developmental and
learning disabilities, c. mental illness, d. aging and death
• Living in a diverse world a. African American
experiences, b. books from other cultures, c. understanding
various world cultures.
• Popular a. animal stories, b. sports stories, c. school stories,
d. mysteries.