American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

12-17-1975

Abstract

This study explores the American small town, located (for the study's purposes) principally in the turn-of-the-century Midwest, and its reflection in the works of the American writer, Sherwood Anderson, and the American painter, Charles Burchfield.

A large portion of the study is devoted to the small town itself: its place in our history and in our myths. To that end, many pages are devoted to the highlights of American history from 1875 to 1925, to some of the representative phenomena of that period, and to our geographical myths (e.g., "out West" versus "back East") which came together in the Midwest. There is also a quick survey of "small town works" of artists other than Anderson and Burchfield.

Winesburg, Ohio and Poor White provide the bases of the Anderson section of the study. Each in its own way manifests what Anderson saw as the deadening effects of the Industrial Revolution and the vitalizing effects of Nature, as they applied to the small town at a critical period in its history.

Charles Burchfield's artistic career is briefly sketched. One follows him from his early celebrations of Nature and fantasy, through the middle years, when his work was more town-oriented and socially critical, and sees him finally return to Nature in the triumphant late works. In spite of his attempts at social criticism and his antagonism to the Industrial Revolution, one sees in his celebrations of the Nature which surrounded and permeated the small town his most valid artistic contributions.

The conclusion of the study explores the meaning and importance of nostalgia; our culture's view of the small town, and the strengths and weaknesses of that view; and, in summary, Anderson's and Burchfield's places in respect to the small town and to our artistic and cultural heritage.

Language

English

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree

Doctoral

Department Name

American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Douglas George

Second Committee Member

Joel M. Jones

Third Committee Member

Ernest Baughman

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