race

Black Spring

He wanted to leave nothing out. Given the film image’s powers of simultaneous arrest and dispersal, he may have believed it the surest means of preserving while imparting some measure of the densities and speeds generated across the spectrum of happenings, impasses, and transfigurations that marked what he and a few allies were engineering at San Francisco State that spring of 1967. The lambent play of sound and image might diffuse some of the private intensities driving their rupture of the knowledge-reproduction operations of the University—and might therefore document some slight tremor in the market systems of which it was part.

Black Spring

Excursions into irreconcilable and therefore alluring dimensions of innovative Black writing, filmmaking, and analysis.

T. S. Eliot and the Color Line of St. Louis

“Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness?” wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., in words that resonate unexpectedly with the work of another noted twentieth-century Christian, T. S.

Race in the Modernism/modernity Archives: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond

We are pleased to be able to share here a selection of articles on race and modernism from past print issues of Modernism/modernity. Reflecting the history of the journal, many of these focus on the Harlem Renaissance, but we’ve also included articles on the Caribbean and Brazil as well as a more broadly comparative treatment of race...

Confronting Racism and The Waste Land in the Era of #MeToo

The anger, as well as hope for meaningful change, brought about by the recent Black Lives Matter protests against systemic racism and inequality call attention to a growing need for classroom conversations about literature and social justice. Teaching poetry by Gwendolyn Brooks and T. S. Eliot together in the same course affirms the enduring relevance of Eliot’s high modernism and, by highlighting the tragic consequences of racism as well as gender inequality, illuminates how the #MeToo generation can change the way we read Eliot.

Unmasking Adrienne Fidelin: Picasso, Man Ray, and the (In)Visibility of Racial Difference

Accounts of black personalities long lost to narratives of modernism are belatedly finding their way into the historical record, precipitated by the recent advent of scholarship and exhibitions dedicated to this recovery process.[1] As a result, black artists, models, and performers who previously attracted little critical attention are slowly emerging from obscurity to command consideration in their own right.

Dear Nella: What Did You See?

Dear Nella,

I was terribly disappointed that you didn’t get here last week. And I was furious with myself for mentioning the damned wedding to you because it turned out that I didn’t go. People kept coming in and then deciding not to go on to the wedding, so we were here until eight o’clock. Then we went out to dinner. It was very amusing too because the sandwiches kept getting fewer and fewer, and I kept rescuing them from hungry guests and saying firmly, “You’ll have to leave some for Nella Larsen Imes and Elmer.” Then when you didn’t appear they accused me of trying to save the food.

Placing Du Bois’s Ophelia: Multi-Scalar Black Modernity

To encounter black modernity via W. E. B. Du Bois is to tangle with questions of exemplarity and exceptionality. For my students in a large lecture class on the “American Experience,” many of whom are the first in their family to receive a college degree, many of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants, Booker T. Washington’s message of casting one’s bucket down can resonate more strongly than what they sometimes read as the elitism of Du Bois’s talented tenth. As a member of that tenth, Du Bois does not always speak to them—yeah, well, that guy went to Harvard, but that’s not most people; that’s not me.

The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History by Susan Scott Parrish

This book investigates a flood that sprawled across forty percent of the United States (and some of Canada), killing hundreds (and perhaps thousands, since African American deaths were not included in any “official” count), displacing nearly one million people—including 300,000 African Americans who were placed in makeshift camps, which the Red Cross called “concentration camps” and which reproduced a particularly American racial logic—and stimulating an enormous range of intellectual and aesthetic production from the Mississippi Delta blues of Bessie Smith to the Berlin radio broadcasts of Walter Benjamin. The 1927 Mississippi flood, Parrish argues at length, and quite compellingly, should be understood as one of the central events in the history of modernism.

Auburn Prison and Carceral Modernity: A Performance History

Originally constructed in 1817, Auburn Correctional Facility in Upstate New York stands as the oldest continually functional maximum-security penitentiary in the United States.[1] I doubt that its designers would have predicted that 200 years later the US would come to incarcerate more people than any other country in history. We currently make up only 5% of the world’s population, but confine about 21% of its prisoners.