The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930-1946

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Overview

The New Red Negro surveys African-American poetry from the onset of the Depression to the early days of the Cold War. It considers the relationship between the thematic and formal choices of African-American poets and organized ideology from the proletarian early 1930s to the neo-modernist late 1940s. This study examines poetry by writers across the spectrum: canonical, less well-known, and virtually unknown.

The ideology of the Communist Left as particularly expressed through cultural institutions of the literary Left significantly influenced the shape of African-American poetry in the 1930s and 40s, as well as the content. One result of this engagement of African-American writers with the organized Left was a pronounced tendency to regard the re-created folk or street voice as the authentic voice—and subject—of African-American poetry. Furthermore, a masculinist rhetoric was crucial to the re-creation of this folk voice.

This unstable yoking of cultural nationalism, integrationism, and internationalism within a construct of class struggle helped to shape a new relationship of African-American poetry to vernacular African-American culture. This relationship included the representation of African-American working class and rural folk life and its cultural products ostensibly from the mass perspective. It also included the dissemination of urban forms of African-American popular culture, often resulting in mixed media high- low hybrids.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Smethurst fills a gap in the study of African American literature....Extensive notes on the text and bibliography provide insight into Smethurst's sources and analysis and provide a basis for further scholarly examination of the period and its issues."—Choice
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Of the Coming of the New Red Negro
1. African-American Poetry, Ideology, and the Left during the 1930s and 1940s from the Third Period to the Popular Front and Beyond
2. "The Strong Men Gittin' Stronger": Sterling Brown and the Representation and Re-creation of the Southern Folk Voice
3. "Adventures of a Social Poet": Langston Hughes in the 1930s
4. "I Am Black and I Have Seen Black Hands": The Narratorial Consciousness and Constructions of the Folk in 1930s African-American Poetry
5. Hughes's Shakespeare in Harlem and the Rise of a Popular Neomodernism
6. Hysterical Ties: Gwendolyn Brooks and the Rise of a High Neomodernism
7. The Popular Front, World War II, and the Rise of Neomodernism in African-American Poetry of the 1940s
Conclusion: "Sullen Bakeries of Total Recall"
Notes
Works Consulted
Index

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