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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 FBI Is Perhaps the Most Dedicated and Influential Forgotten Critic of African American Literature

The FBI Is Perhaps the Most Dedicated and Influential Forgotten Critic of African American Literature

Chapter:
(p.127) Part Three/Thesis Three The FBI Is Perhaps the Most Dedicated and Influential Forgotten Critic of African American Literature
Source:
F.B. Eyes
Author(s):

William J. Maxwell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691130200.003.0004

This part illuminates the interpretive assumptions of Bureau ghostreading against the backdrop of the best-documented entanglement of American criticism with American espionage: namely, the firsthand stamp of the New Criticism on the counterintelligence branch of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Section 1 explores CIA-endorsed formalism, its high-wire, Yale-rooted history, which was eventually integrated into FBI critical practice. Section 2 confirms that the Bureau ghostreaders cobbled together a distinct mode of FBI reading decades before the CIA's creation, a didactic yet meticulous biohistoricism in sympathy with academic schools of the late 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s. Section 3 looks into the background and outlook of the FBI agents tasked with criticizing Afro-modernism. Finally, section 4 assesses the impact of FBI ghostreading on an interested non-Bureau audience: the self-appointed model citizens who turned to Hoover as a literary-critical wise man and potential literary-critical collaborator. This part proposes the third and thus far most literary of the five theses: The FBI is perhaps the most dedicated and influential forgotten critic of African American literature.

Keywords:   CIA, Central Intelligence Agency, African American literature, ghostreading, FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, Federal Bureau of Investigation, American espionage, Afro-modernism

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