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"Heretofore scholars have not been willing—perhaps, even been unable for many reasons both academic and personal—to identify much of the Harlem Renaissance work as same-sex oriented.... An important book." —Jim Elledge
This groundbreaking study explores the Harlem Renaissance as a literary phenomenon fundamentally shaped by same-sex-interested men. Christa Schwarz focuses on Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Bruce Nugent and explores these writers' sexually dissident or gay literary voices. The portrayals of men-loving men in these writers' works vary significantly. Schwarz locates in the poetry of Cullen, Hughes, and McKay the employment of contemporary gay code words, deriving from the Greek discourse of homosexuality and from Walt Whitman. By contrast, Nugent—the only "out" gay Harlem Renaissance artist—portrayed men-loving men without reference to racial concepts or Whitmanesque codes. Schwarz argues for contemporary readings attuned to the complex relation between race, gender, and sexual orientation in Harlem Renaissance writing.
Preliminary Table of Contents:
List of Abbreviations
1. Gay Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance
2. Writing in the Harlem Renaissance: The Burden of Representation and Sexual Dissidence
3. Countée Cullen: "His Virtues Are Many; His Vices Unheard Of"
4. Langston Hughes: A "True 'People's Poet'"
5. Claude McKay: "Enfant Terrible of the Negro Renaissance"
6. Richard Bruce Nugent: The Quest for Beauty
Indiana University Press