Download PDF by James Smethurst: African American Roots of Modernism

By James Smethurst

ISBN-10: 0807834637

ISBN-13: 9780807834633

The interval among 1880 and 1918, on the finish of which Jim Crow was once firmly confirmed and the good Migration of African americans used to be good less than manner, 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 process brought on major creative and highbrow responses from African American writers, deeply marking the beginnings of literary modernism and, eventually, notions of yank modernity.
In opting for the Jim Crow interval with the arriving of modernity, Smethurst upsets the well-known overview of the Harlem Renaissance because the first nationally major black arts move, exhibiting how artists reacted to Jim Crow with migration narratives, poetry in regards to the black adventure, black functionality of pop culture types, and extra. Smethurst introduces an entire forged of characters, together with understudied figures equivalent to William Stanley Braithwaite and Fenton Johnson, and extra generic authors resembling Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and James Weldon Johnson. by means of contemplating the legacy of writers and artists energetic among the top 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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S. “high” culture and popular culture of versions of African American music, dance, and literature in which the act of unmasking of a faux Negro and/or the performance of an allegedly unmediated “authentic” racial or national expression was crucial to their success. The success of the Fisk Jubilee Singers in presenting the spirituals to an international audience is a key example of this new fascination, on the part of both black and white Americans, with the authentic African American folk culture and the “real” black voice—however mediated the actual cultural practices, such as George L.

10 If one is familiar with this larger literary conversation, then an understanding of why Du Bois’s highly figurative formulation of dualism and black existential experience in the Nadir in The Souls of Black Folk was so arresting becomes deeper and clearer. In other words, it is worth not only using, as is often done, Du Bois’s formulations and metaphors of dualism as lenses to examine how the work of such authors as Dunbar or Charles Chesnutt expresses “double consciousness” but also examining how the work of those authors, whose early literary efforts obviously did not derive from The Souls of Black Folk, might throw a light on the work of Du Bois and on the larger body of African American literature at the turn of the century.

Though invoking an antiracist universalism that anticipates Du Bois’s positing of a relationship with Shakespeare, Dumas, and Balzac (not to mention Schiller and Goethe) on a higher level in The Souls of Black Folk, Dunbar’s most famous “standard poems,” such as “We Wear the Mask,” “Sympathy,” and “The Poet,” protest the impossibility of the black poet working comfortably within the genteel tradition, however one might desire it. In this, one might say that Dunbar at the turn of the century and many of the African American poets of the next few decades located themselves both within and against the so-called genteel and Romantic traditions.

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African American Roots of Modernism by James Smethurst


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