This introductory chapter first discusses the FBI's surveillance African American writers and imitation of black prose as part of its struggle against African American protest. It argues that unlike nearly every other institution of U.S. literary study, prone to showing interest only during well-promoted black renaissances, the Bureau rarely took its eyes off the latest in African American writing between 1919 and 1972. And during this more-than-fifty-year period, the whole of its Hoover era, it never dismissed this writing as an impractical vogue relevant only to blacks (or to bleeding-heart white “Negrotarians,” for that matter). Relying on dueling public documents of African American literature and FBI literary commentary, the book helps establish their surprising depth of contact between spy-critics and black Bureau writers. An overview of the four parts of the book is also presented.
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