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Representing the RaceA New Political History of African American Literature$
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Gene Andrew Jarrett

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814743386

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814743386.001.0001

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New Negro Politics from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance

New Negro Politics from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance

(p.73) 3 New Negro Politics from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance
Representing the Race

Gene Andrew Jarrett

NYU Press

This chapter explores politics in literature, interpreting New Negro politics as a paradigm. New Negro politics accounts for a cultural formation that sought to overcome the prevailing theme that African Americans were inferior and unassimilable in American “civilization.” It also sought to prove that African Americans, then described as a race, could be uplifted in moral, educational and cultural ways. Indeed, African American intellectuals used literature to explain or critique racial uplift and its cultural implementation as political action. Focusing on criticism and function, the chapter shows that the correlation between African American communities and racial-uplift ideology had translated into special rhetorical, aesthetic, and thematic features constituting the political tradition of African American literature at the turn into the twentieth century.

Keywords:   New Negro politics, African American intellectuals, African American literature, racial uplift, political action

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