By James Smethurst
The interval among 1880 and 1918, on the finish of which Jim Crow was once firmly proven and the nice Migration of African americans was once good lower than means, was once no longer 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 approach prompted major creative and highbrow responses from African American writers, deeply marking the beginnings of literary modernism and, finally, notions of yankee modernity.
In picking out the Jim Crow interval with the arriving of modernity, Smethurst upsets the everyday evaluate of the Harlem Renaissance because the first nationally major black arts circulate, 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 a complete solid of characters, together with understudied figures reminiscent of William Stanley Braithwaite and Fenton Johnson, and extra normal authors corresponding to Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and James Weldon Johnson. via contemplating the legacy of writers and artists lively among the top of Reconstruction and the increase of the Harlem Renaissance, Smethurst illuminates their impact at the black and white U.S. modernists who followed.
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Extra info for African American Roots of Modernism
But generally, as in Dunbar’s early work, there is a transcending of both categories: it is citizenship that these soldiers have earned with their blood, not simply freedom (which quite a few could be said to have possessed as they were already legally “free” in many, if not most, cases), and it is manhood, not literacy, which they have attained through sacrifice in the cause of a divinely sanctioned civic duty. ” Similarly, they are clearly not opposed to literacy (they are poems, after all) but are implicitly opposed to a concept of “literacy” that might serve as a bar to African American citizenship—as such a concept did in fact.
Tropes of freedom and literacy often appear in these poems. But generally, as in Dunbar’s early work, there is a transcending of both categories: it is citizenship that these soldiers have earned with their blood, not simply freedom (which quite a few could be said to have possessed as they were already legally “free” in many, if not most, cases), and it is manhood, not literacy, which they have attained through sacrifice in the cause of a divinely sanctioned civic duty. ” Similarly, they are clearly not opposed to literacy (they are poems, after all) but are implicitly opposed to a concept of “literacy” that might serve as a bar to African American citizenship—as such a concept did in fact.
It is not my intention to play the old game of “find the modernism” so as to prove the worth of such writers as Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Fenton Johnson, and William Stanley Braithwaite. As someone who was an undergraduate at what might be seen as a third-tier public university where, for the most part, news about structuralism and poststructuralism was very late in arriving, my early training in literary studies was largely according to New Critical precepts, even though I vaguely heard that such people as Derrida, Foucault, Bakhtin, and Althusser existed.
African American Roots of Modernism by James Smethurst