By James Smethurst
The interval among 1880 and 1918, on the finish of which Jim Crow used to be firmly validated and the good Migration of African americans used to be good less than manner, was once now not the nadir for black tradition, James Smethurst finds, yet as a substitute a time of profound reaction from African American intellectuals. The African American Roots of Modernism explores how the Jim Crow method prompted major inventive and highbrow responses from African American writers, deeply marking the beginnings of literary modernism and, eventually, notions of yankee modernity.
In picking out the Jim Crow interval with the arrival of modernity, Smethurst upsets the time-honored evaluate of the Harlem Renaissance because the first nationally major black arts move, displaying how artists reacted to Jim Crow with migration narratives, poetry concerning the black adventure, black functionality of pop culture kinds, and extra. Smethurst introduces an entire forged of characters, together with understudied figures equivalent to William Stanley Braithwaite and Fenton Johnson, and extra wide-spread authors resembling Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and James Weldon Johnson. through contemplating the legacy of writers and artists energetic among the tip of Reconstruction and the increase of the Harlem Renaissance, Smethurst illuminates their impression at the black and white U.S. modernists who followed.
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Extra resources for African American Roots of Modernism
However, the poem also expresses what should be the obvious point that Douglass, too, makes: there are different communities of meaning based on different histories—or perhaps different class and racial locations in the same historical space. ” The “mellow minor music” also points to how these complications are embedded in the title of the 1895 collection Majors and Minors. ” One might take the first section to be the “Majors” and the second to be the “Minors”—though, typically, that is not directly stated by Dunbar.
Chapter 3 considers the relationship of Dunbar and the immediate postDunbar generation of black writers, critics, and editors of poetry, especially Fenton Johnson and William Stanley Braithwaite, to the rise of the “new poetry” and the development of the character of artistic bohemia in the United States. Such scholars as Aldon Nielsen, Michael North, Carla Peterson, and Geoffrey Jacques have noted that many of the “high” modernist INTRODUCTION | 21 writers, such as T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams, have a deep, if ambivalent, relationship to minstrelsy, ragtime, the “coon song,” and forms of popular culture that presented a stylized black body and sounded the black voice.
The problem of dualism, whether in Du Bois’s semipsychological proposition of two more or less unintegrated consciousnesses existing simultaneously in one body, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s notion of the masking of one’s true nature (with the proto-Althusserian dilemma that Du Bois identifies as seeing one’s self only through the eyes of others who see only the mask), or a more strictly legalistic sense of post-Reconstruction Jim Crow segregation, is the problem of being a citizen and yet not a citizen (and, by extension, of being simultaneously human and not quite human legally, socially, and culturally) in an increasingly urbanized, industrialized, and imperialist United States.