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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 Helped to Define the Twentieth-Century Black Atlantic, Both Blocking and Forcing Its Flows

The FBI Helped to Define the Twentieth-Century Black Atlantic, Both Blocking and Forcing Its Flows

Chapter:
(p.175) Part Four/Thesis Four The FBI Helped to Define the Twentieth-Century Black Atlantic, Both Blocking and Forcing Its Flows
Source:
F.B. Eyes
Author(s):

William J. Maxwell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691130200.003.0005

This part marshals the largely uncompiled evidence of FBI author files to suggest that the worst suspicions about the stakeout of Paris noir were basically correct—that Wright was not too wrong, it follows, when he darkly joked that any African American “who is not paranoid is in serious shape,” at least if he or she sought literary license outside the United States during the Hoover era. Two decades before American involvement in World War II opened the floodgates of black Paris, the FBI began to influence the movements of expatriate Afro-modernists—this even as it manipulated “lit.-cop federalism” to nationalize itself in the mind of white America. In the French capital of black transnationalism, and satellites beyond, FBI agents and informers kept tabs on a network of black literary travelers they hoped to link by the vulnerabilities of statelessness alone. Thus, this book's fourth thesis: The FBI helped to define the twentieth-century Black Atlantic, both blocking and forcing its flows.

Keywords:   African American literature, Afro-modernists, federalism, black transnationalism, FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, Federal Bureau of Investigation

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