Brooks E. Hefner is Roop Distinguished Professor of English at James Madison University. He has published a host of articles and book chapters on U.S. modernism, popular culture, and film, as well as two books: The Word on the Streets: The American Language of Vernacular Modernism (University of Virginia Press, 2017) and Black Pulp: Genre Fiction in the Shadow of Jim Crow (University of Minnesota Press, 2021). He is also the co-director of Circulating American Magazines, a project funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Advancement Grant. He is currently in the process of editing (with Gary Edward Holcomb) the letters of Claude McKay and preparing a new edition of George S. Schuyler’s Black Empire for Penguin Classics.
Brooks E. Hefner
The last few years have witnessed the loss of a handful of longstanding and influential Black publications. The Chicago Defender ceased its print publication in 2019 (but remains online) and the Johnson Publishing Company—publishers of Jet and (until 2016) Ebony—was liquidated in the same year. These legendary publishers left a profound legacy on African American print culture and these recent changes have occasioned many eulogies and prompted more consideration of the influential history of twentieth-century Black publishing. While there is a rich tradition of scholarship on African American periodicals in the nineteenth century—from abolitionist newspapers and religious journals to international publications and children’s periodicals—scholarship on twentieth-century African American periodicals has not been quite as robust.