Research Programs: Awards for Faculty

Period of Performance

7/1/2019 - 6/30/2020

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

American Literature, the Romantic Revival, and the Rise of Modernism

FAIN: HB-263082-19

Nathaniel Enon Cadle
Florida International University Board of Trustees (Miami, FL 33199-2516)

Preparation for publication of a book about the relationship between U.S. literary modernism and the Romantic Revival (c. 1880-1920), with consideration of works by Edith Wharton, Henry James, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

At the end of the nineteenth century, an unexpected resurgence of widespread interest in supposedly old-fashioned romantic fiction occurred. Historical, sensational, sentimental, and utopian romances suddenly displaced realistic novels in popular magazines and on bestseller lists. Critics have long dismissed this “Romantic Revival,” yet several important authors, including Edith Wharton, Henry James, and W.E.B. Du Bois, embraced it, using the distant settings and fantastic plots of these various genres in innovative ways. My project surveys the Romantic Revival as an important literary movement that enabled particularly skillful writers to push the boundaries of their fiction and move beyond the empiricism of Realism into the uncertainties of Modernism. In short, I argue that the Romantic Revival played a significant role in the emergence of Modernism in the United States.

Associated Products

Mark Twain and the Romantic Revival (Article)
Title: Mark Twain and the Romantic Revival
Author: Nathaniel Cadle
Abstract: Instead of reading Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc as an anomaly within Mark Twain’s oeuvre, this article analyzes it within the context of the Romantic Revival, a wave of popular fiction that dominated bestseller lists during the 1890s and 1900s. The features of the novel that critics tend to dismiss—its sentimentalism, apparent acceptance of supernatural events, and so forth—constitute a direct and purposeful engagement with the conventions of romance, in contrast to Twain's more subversive treatment of those conventions elsewhere. This article contends that Personal Recollections Joan of Arc serves as an example of emergent modernism, which results from the dialectical process at work in the historical struggle between realism and romance and from the novel’s own attempt to work through the tensions between two modes of fiction. Throughout the novel, Twain exploits and thematizes those tensions, in turn creating greater ambiguity and irony.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: At present (September 2020), the article is forthcoming, though I have approved page proofs. The URL currently leads to Project MUSE's digital holdings of The Mark Twain Annual, from 2013 to the present.
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The Mark Twain Annual
Publisher: Penn State University Press