Abstract

Wallace Thurman’s short-lived magazine Fire!! (1926) adapted the aesthetic manifesto of the Anglo-American avant-garde to represent the various sexual and racial subject positions in 1920s Harlem in an effort to break away from a Harlem intellectual bourgeoisie that Thurman thought relied too much on the normalizing tendencies of sociology. Aesthetically reproducing the dynamic milieu of Harlem sexual life, Thurman’s Fire!! deviated from the racial uplift efforts of figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Charles S. Johnson and advocated a queer modernism that attacked what Thurman saw as Victorian mores in sociological studies and idealistic aesthetic representations of black city life. Instead of merely using sexuality to offend censors, Thurman “queers” the modernist manifesto, promoting an alternative aesthetic to that practiced in such periodicals as The Crisis and Opportunity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1464
Print ISSN
0022-281X
Pages
pp. 162-180
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-26
Open Access
No
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