African American Roots of Modernism by James Smethurst

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 american citizens was once good below approach, used to be 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 caused major inventive and highbrow responses from African American writers, deeply marking the beginnings of literary modernism and, finally, notions of yankee modernity.
In making a choice on 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 flow, displaying how artists reacted to Jim Crow with migration narratives, poetry in regards to the black event, black functionality of pop culture kinds, and extra. Smethurst introduces an entire solid of characters, together with understudied figures reminiscent of William Stanley Braithwaite and Fenton Johnson, and extra standard authors reminiscent of Charles Chesnutt, Pauline Hopkins, and James Weldon Johnson. by means of contemplating the legacy of writers and artists energetic among the tip of Reconstruction and the increase of the Harlem Renaissance, Smethurst illuminates their effect at the black and white U.S. modernists who followed.

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S. popular culture in our time. In other words, acting “black” or “Negro” came to take on a new meaning in popular culture from what it had in the antebellum minstrel era—though the older meanings and images continued to linger, especially on the stage and in the new medium of film. And, by the late 1910s, the “coon song” not only presented versions of black bodies, voices, actions, and tastes but also increasingly portrayed public urban or quasi-urban black spaces, especially bars, clubs, and dance halls, in African American districts as places one could, and would, desire to visit.

Unlike his parents, who had been slaves, Dunbar was born free after the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Yet the hopes and promises of Reconstruction were clearly fading with the increasing advance of Jim Crow segregation and black disenfranchisement in the South (and elsewhere) in the early 1890s despite the fact that those amendments remained part of the Constitution. One might say that Reconstruction, like Prohibition later, was essentially overturned. S. Supreme Court.

The relatively simple point is that, though Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk is perhaps the most widely recognized exposition of African American dualism at the turn of the century, it is but one of a number of such expressions, including some, such as Dunbar’s, that antedate the pub38 | DUELING BANJOS lication of Du Bois’s book. This is not to question Du Bois’s influence but to suggest that The Souls of Black Folk was part of a larger social conversation in which his voice was crucial but not singular.

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