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Modernism on File: Writers, Artists, and the FBI 1920-1950 by Claire A. Culleton, Karen Leick

By Claire A. Culleton, Karen Leick

Modernism on dossier: Writers, Artists, and the FBI, 1920-1950 brings jointly very important new scholarship concerned about J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and its institutional presence in shaping and directing American print, movie, and artwork tradition. From Harlem to Hollywood, Hoover and his bureau employees have been bent on decontaminating America’s creativity and this assortment appears on the writers and artists who have been tagged, tracked, and from time to time, trapped by means of the FBI. members aspect the threatening facets of political energy and critique the very historiography of modernism, acknowledging that modernism used to be on trial in the course of these years.

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McKay’s file, packed with memoranda carefully transcribing his poetry and journalism, contains one of the most careful anthologies of his American sonnets to be found outside of James Weldon Johnson’s Book of American Negro Poetry (1922) and McKay’s own Harlem Shadows (1922). Chester Himes’s file offers capsule interpretations of every early story he placed in Esquire. , Himes file, August 1, 1945). It is not too much to propose that such bureau files should be considered as revealing works of literary criticism, as statesponsored, collectively authored compilations of textual analysis privately bidding for interpretive dominance.

Ed. Voices from the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Oxford U P, 1976. Keen, Mike Forrest. Stalking the Sociological Imagination: J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI Surveillance of American Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999. Kornweibel, Theodore, Jr. “Seeing Red”: Federal Campaigns Against Black Militancy, 1919–1925. Bloomington: Indiana U P, 1998. Lewis, David Levering. Ed. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader. New York: Viking, 1994. Maxwell, William J. B. Eyes: The Bureau Reads Claude McKay,” in Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism, and Twentieth-Century Literature of the United States, Bill V.

None of the praise heaped on his novel affected him as much as that assault on his radical credentials. “I thought I was a good Communist,” he recalled. ”10 Roth internalized the standards of socialist realism and vowed that next time out he would write an exemplary Marxist novel. Though Michael Harrington, a prominent socialist, would later judge Call It Sleep “the finest proletarian novel of the Thirties,”11 Roth continued to disparage his own literary effort as bourgeois—too fixated on the merely personal, too much invested in the version of modernism exemplified by Joyce and Proust.

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