Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance

Houston A. Baker, Jr., Author University of Chicago Press $19.95 (122p) ISBN 978-0-226-03524-6
The writing, music and art of the Harlem Renaissance has been called provincial, even by some black critics. In this powerful and controversial essay, Baker not only refutes this notion, he also argues that black writers have created a distinctively Afro-American modernism equal to the elitist Anglo-American modernism of Eliot, Joyce and their ilk. A professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, Baker traces black modernism to Tuskegee orator Booker T. Washington and political activist W. E. B. DuBois.In Up from Slavery, Washington subversively adopted the voice of the black minstrel show, turning inside-out white stereotypes of blacks. DuBois's literary strategy of irony and ""deformation'' in The Souls of Black Folk exploded plantation traditions, the white Southern myth of cavalier gentility and American journalism's pose of fairness. Black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar sang his ``badness,'' waging guerrilla warfare against a hostile white culture as he drew upon an African ancestral past. A brilliant and important book. (October)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-0-226-15629-3
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