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Journalism and the American Renaissance

Powerful Essays
Journalism and the American Renaissance

The period in American Literature known as the American Renaissance was a time of great change in our country. It was an age of westward expansion and social conflict. Americans were divided on such volatile issues as slavery, reform and sectionalism that ultimately led to the Civil War. Emerging from this cauldron of change came the voice of a new nation - a nation with views and ideals all its own. The social, economic, technological and demographic revolution that was taking place at this time set the stage for a new era of writers. The voice of the nation found a home, first, on the pages of the newspaper. It was there that the hopes, fears and political views of Americans were represented. The newspaper united Americans by giving them a vehicle to voice their opinions and concerns. The result was a newfound spirit of solidarity that opened the door to the first great period of creative writing in America known as the American Renaissance.

The ranks of Americaâs greatest imaginative writers overflow with men and women whose careers began in journalism (Fishkin 3). The birth of the penny press created hundreds of new newspapers along with jobs that authors like Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and Mark Twain were eager to fill. The affect that journalism, with its respect for fact, had on the early authors of America was profound (Fishkin 4, 6). It fostered a style of writing that put truth above rhetoric and first hand knowledge above hearsay. Writing for a newspaper required that the writer be immersed in the events taking place in the world around him and report what he saw, heard and felt. It brought the writer into the realm of the everyday raw experiences of ...

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...press. It was as poets and novelists that the American Renaissance writers challenged society to consider unfamiliar concepts - to move beyond their limited scope and embrace the unknown.

Works Cited

Bell, Michael D. The Problem of American Realism: Studies in the Cultural History of a Literary Idea. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Fishkin, Shelley F. From Fact to Fiction. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

Lauter, Paul The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Matthiessen, F.O. American Renaissance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941.

Reynolds, David S. Beneath the American Renaissance. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.

Robertson, Michael. Stephen Crane, Journalism and the Making of Modern American Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
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