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Reaping Something NewAfrican American Transformations of Victorian Literature$
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Daniel Hack

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196930

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196930.001.0001

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After Du Bois

After Du Bois

(p.205) Afterword After Du Bois
Reaping Something New

Daniel Hack

Princeton University Press

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.

Keywords:   African American literature, African American print culture, racialized identity, racial prejudice, twentieth century, Harlem Renaissance, black internationalism, racial authenticity

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