Spectres of 1919
Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: University of Illinois Press
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The year 1919 has for some time had a particular resonance for me. John Dos Passos, about whom I long ago wrote a Ph.D. dissertation, named the second volume of his extraordinary U.S.A. trilogy after this critical juncture. As both a leftist who came of age in the late 1960s and a scholar who increasingly focused on African American literature, ...
1. The New Negro and the Left
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Writing in The New Negro in 1925, Alain Locke was purportedly describing a self-evident state of affairs when he proclaimed that the “deep feeling of race” currently being manifested as the “mainspring of Negro life” is “radical in tone, but not in purpose” and that “only the most stupid forms of opposition, misunderstanding or persecution could make it otherwise.” ...
2. Nation, Class, and the Limits of the Left
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In the crucible of 1919, a class-based analysis of racism enjoyed widespread currency among liberals, progressives, and leftists; the struggle against racial inequality was frequently linked with the necessity to transform or abolish capitalist social relations. But if this was the case, why was this trend reversed? ...
3. The Rhetoric of Racist Antiradicalism
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Thus far the derivation of the New Negro movement in the political radicalism of the wartime and immediate postwar years and various contradictions internal to the theory and practice of the Left that would contribute to the supersession of class struggle by culturalism have been analyzed. ...
4. Metonymic Nationalism, Culture Wars, and the Politics of Counterdiscourse
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Having explored the substance and rhetoric of racist antiradicalism, the dominant ideology informing political discourse and rationalizing state and business repression amidst the social upheavals of 1919 and its Thermidorian aftermath, I now examine various attempts by progressives and leftists to construct counterdiscourses ...
5. From the New Negro to The New Negro
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Returning to the question raised at the outset of this inquiry, how did the arms-bearing, anticapitalist New Negro of 1919 get transmuted into the culture hero of The New Negro (1925)? While the causal threads are many, Alain Locke’s guiding role is clearly of central importance. ...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2003