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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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The Geopolitics of African American Autobiography between the World Wars

The Geopolitics of African American Autobiography between the World Wars

(p.101) 4 The Geopolitics of African American Autobiography between the World Wars
Representing the Race

Gene Andrew Jarrett

NYU Press

This chapter claims that the autobiographies of two African American writers—Claude McKay and Langston Hughes—document the transnational range of geopolitical activism, which used cultural expression to mobilize people for political causes and to engage political representatives at the highest levels of government and public policymaking. Both McKay's A Long Way from Home and Hughes' I Wonder as I Wander show that the authors participated in the Communist or left-wing, “radical” parties while writing and thinking about literature as an informal strategy to influence societies at home and abroad. As such, McKay and Hughes were as much agents of political and class reform as they were literary travelers; they employed what “the perspective of a traveling black subject” to achieve a geopolitical and transnational form of African American literature.

Keywords:   Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, African American autobiography, geopolitical activism, African American literature

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