Change Reflected in Thought and Writing

Review Questions

Which of the following statements accurately represents Thorstein Veblen’s argument in The Theory of the Leisure Class?

  1. All citizens of an industrial society would rise or fall based on their own innate merits.
  2. The tenets of naturalism were the only laws through which society should be governed.
  3. The middle class was overly focused on its own comfort and consumption.
  4. Land and natural resources should belong equally to all citizens.



Which of the following was not an element of realism?

  1. social Darwinism
  2. instrumentalism
  3. naturalism
  4. pragmatism



In what ways did writers, photographers, and visual artists begin to embrace more realistic subjects in their work? How were these responses to the advent of the industrial age and the rise of cities?


The growth of the industrial economy and the dramatic growth of cities created new, harsh realities that were often hidden from the public eye. Writers and artists, responding both to this fact and to the sentimentalism that characterized the writing and art of their predecessors, began to depict subjects that reflected the new truth. Photographers like Jacob Riis sought to present to the public the realities of working-class life and labor. Novelists began to portray true-to-life vignettes in their stories. Visual artists such as George Bellows, Edward Hopper, and Robert Henri formed the Ashcan School of Art, which depicted the often gritty realities of working-class city life, leisure, and entertainment.