Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Gosselin, Adrienne

Subject Headings

Naturalism in literature, American literature -- 20th century, American Naturalism, horror fiction, zombies, naturalism, narratology, violence, black fiction, Max Brooks, World War Z, Ann Petry, The street, criticism


American Naturalism has a reputation of being a reductive and often times violent genre, but in its brutality exists a lens to examine adverse social conditions and practices of modern and historical society. Evolved from its precursor in European Naturalism, American Naturalism would undergo adaptations to make the genre more relevant to the American audience, authors like Frank Norris and Stephen Crane each tailoring their naturalistic novels to cater to their respective times. Since then, the genre has gone as a style that is as difficult to define as it is to accept, American Naturalism receiving criticisms and detractions with each novel written. Nevertheless, the genre has endured and only further adapted with America's constantly changing social climate. To assess and examine the adaptations in American Naturalism, texts written long-after American Naturalism's inception were analyzed through Valerie Smith's theory of intersectionality. Rather than focusing on one particular aspect of a text, Smith's intersectionality examines multiple components in a subject and examines not only their individual roles but their relationship with one another as well. The novels chosen, Ann Petry's The Street (1941) and Max Brooks' World War Z (2006), are first qualified as American Naturalistic texts by way of genre hallmarks before Smith's theory is applied to show not only how the hallmarks contribute to the novels individually, but how those same identifiers have evolved over time. This thesis focuses primarily on the evolutions in American Naturalism's narratological method and its expansion of the naturalistic conclusion