Naturalism's International Identity: Anti-Semitism, Alienation, and Women's Writing

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Emile Zola, literary naturalism's founder, voiced his concerns about anti-Semitism in a series of articles that would resonate with readers in a post-COVID-19 pandemic present that has been ravaged by synagogue shootings and other violent acts against Jewish people. As extremist viewpoints of white nationalism and neo-Nazi rhetoric surface in the current day, Zola’s commentary on anti-Semitism becomes all the more pertinent to our study of American literary naturalism, which the French author pioneered. This movement had international origins, not only because it grew out of Zola’s French experimental novel but also because Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution—a core tenet of naturalist discourse—became a fascination for American authors at the turn of the twentieth century ... As new directions in naturalist scholarship move beyond American borders and national boundaries, we must turn our attention to the voices of women writers and others who expose anti- Semitism by sometimes reinforcing it and in other moments confronting it.