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F.B. EyesHow J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature$
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William J. Maxwell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691130200

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691130200.001.0001

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The Birth of the Bureau, Coupled with the Birth of J. Edgar Hoover, Ensured the FBI’s Attention to African American Literature

The Birth of the Bureau, Coupled with the Birth of J. Edgar Hoover, Ensured the FBI’s Attention to African American Literature

Chapter:
(p.25) Part One/Thesis One The Birth of the Bureau, Coupled with the Birth of J. Edgar Hoover, Ensured the FBI’s Attention to African American Literature
Source:
F.B. Eyes
Author(s):

William J. Maxwell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691130200.003.0002

This part aims to add depth and detail to less-familiar portraits of Hoover as a young militant, and to establish the character of the also young law enforcement agency he joined in the wake of World War I. Explaining why Hoover and the Bureau began to pursue African American writing, it presents the first of five theses: namely, The birth of the Bureau, coupled with the birth of J. Edgar Hoover, ensured the FBI's attention to African American literature. Section 1 recounts how the pre-Hoover Bureau emerged amid the social divisions of early twentieth-century America, and how it cultivated both literary publicity and public anti-New Negroism to whet an undivided national appetite for federal policing. Section 2 examines how the pre-Bureau Hoover managed his surprising familiarity with Afro-America. Section 3 establishes that with Hoover's hiring by the Bureau during the first Red Scare and the dawn of Harlem's cultural rebirth, the FBI's racial and literary preoccupations only deepened. Under Hoover's watch, the earliest Harlem Renaissance writing became the common passion of Bureau anti-New Negroism and “lit.-cop federalism,” the latter defined as the effort to inject a compelling federal police presence into the U.S. print public sphere.

Keywords:   FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, Federal Bureau of Investigation, African American writing, African American literature, anti-New Negroism, Harlem Renaissance, federalism

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