A Change in the Weather: Modernist Imagination, African American Imaginary

A Change in the Weather: Modernist Imagination, African American Imaginary

by Geoffrey Jacques

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Overview

This book explores the impact of African American culture on modernist poetic language by placing black literature and culture at the center of an inquiry into the genealogy of avant-garde poetics. Geoffrey Jacques looks at how blackface minstrelsy, ragtime, vernacular languages, advertising copy, Freud's idea of the Uncanny, vaudeville, the cliché, and Tin Pan Alley–style song all influenced modernist poetry. In a key insight, Jacques points out that the black urban community in the United States did not live in ghettos during the years before World War I, but in smaller enclaves spread out among the general population. This circumstance helped catalyze African American culture's dramatic and surprising impact on the emergent avant-garde. By using a wide range of theoretical tools, Jacques poses new questions about literary, cultural, and social history, the history and structure of modernist poetic language, canon formation, and the history of criticism.This contribution to the ongoing debate over early twentieth-century culture presents modernism as an interracial, cross-cultural project, arguing for a new appreciation of the central role black culture played within it. Writers and artists whose works are discussed include Marianne Moore, Charles Chesnutt, Jean Toomer, Wallace Stevens, James A. Bland, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gertrude Stein, Bert Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, Samuel Beckett, W. C. Handy, Hart Crane, and Clement Greenberg.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558496880
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 01/31/2009
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Geoffrey Jacques received his PhD in English from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and currently teaches in the Writing Program at York College, CUNY. He has published many essays as well as three collections of poetry, including Just for a Thrill.

What People are Saying About This

Aldon L. Nielsen

This novel volume is substantial, original, well argued and researched, and engagingly written. Jacques addresses himself to a topic that cuts across disciplinary boundaries with a sureness of critical insight not always so evident in cross-disciplinary studies these days, and so this book should appeal to a wider-than-usual spectrum of readers both inside and outside the academy.

James Smethurst

This is the most exciting work on the development of literary and artistic modernism in the United States that I have read in a long time. Unlike many other scholars who see African American modernism as either distinct from or on the margins of 'high modernism,' Jacques takes a leaf from Mary Helen Washington's famous question about American Studies and investigates what happens when we put African American expressive culture at the center of modernism.... The breadth of the author's interdisciplinary knowledge is stunning.... Much of this study is groundbreaking.

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