After Du Bois
After Du Bois
This concluding chapter explores African American literature and print culture in the following century. Here, the prestige and popularity of most Victorian literature—and of Victorian literature as a category—diminished rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century, thanks in good part to the rise of modernism. Moreover, when twentieth-century African American writers looked abroad for cultures that seemed freer from racial prejudice or even the pressures of racialized identity than the United States, their gaze shifted from Britain elsewhere. France in particular took on this role, while also becoming the privileged site of black internationalism, with Paris viewed as “a special space for black transnational interaction, exchange, and dialogue.” Beginning with the Harlem Renaissance, notions of racial authenticity also reinforced this turn away from Victorian literature, not only for its whiteness but also for its association with gentility and middle-class values. Indeed, these same attitudes have shaped the dominant critical reception of the Victorian presence in African American literature and print culture until quite recently.
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