Within a decade before and after the transition of the nineteenth century, American prose was dominated by the naturalism. The works that emerged include, among others, Maggie: a Girl of the Streets (A Story of New York) by Stephen Crane (1893), McTeague: A Story of San Francisco by Frank Norris (1899), and Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (1900). The three works shocked the literature reading public at that time because each presented a cruel, horrendous and morally radical world. While the dominant reading of the three naturalistic texts asserted that the three texts were considered to represent empirical social and functional reality that has pretensions of social reforms.
That was said by a lecturer of Faculty of Literature University of Sanata Dharma Yogyakarta, Drs. F.X. Siswadi, M.A, during the open examination of his Doctoral Program at UGM in the Humanities Sciences, on Tuesday (10/8). He defended his dissertation Structure of Ideology in Three American Naturalistic Works at the end of XIX Century’s (Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (A Story of New York), McTeggue: A Story of San Francisco, and Sister Carrie): Eagletonian materialistic Reviews, the promoter was Prof. Dr. Rachmat Djoko Pradopo and co-promoter Prof. Dr. C. Soebakdi Soemanto, S.U.
He said the furor had been caused by the three texts and he also questioned the validity of conventional readings by revealing the structure of ideology in the three texts; that the approach used to analyze these texts is in the form of materialism and literary reception approach. "The materialism approach adopted is materialism approach that was developed by Terry Eagleton. This approach saw the text as a product of interaction between constituents of ideology on one side and internal logic on the other side that is used to analyze the structure of the ideology that takes the form of contradiction, silence, ambiguity and hegemonic ideology that is included in the text. In the meantime, the reception approach is used to understand the comment or response to the three texts,” explained Siswadi in RM Margono Djojohadikusumo Building UGM, Faculty of Cultural Sciences.
At the end of his dissertation, Siswadi said that the study of these three works showed that the furor following the publication of the three works was seemingly caused not by brutality, atrocities and immorality presented, but by the complaints on a value system instilled in American society in the transition from the nineteenth century, namely the value system that celebrates the supremacy of the individual (individualism). "In addition, the assumption that naturalistic works have empirical and functional nature cannot be fully maintained because the texts do not directly present social reality, and instead become part of the oppressive power relations structure," Siswadi said.