Date of Degree

10-1-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

English

Advisor(s)

Jane Marcus

Subject Categories

African American Studies | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles

Keywords

internationalism, modernism, newspaper, poetry, scrapbook, Spanish Civil War

Abstract

Archives Of Transnational Modernism: Lost Networks Of Art And Activism considers the work of several intersecting figures in transnational modernism, in order to reassess the contours of race and gender in anglophone literature of the interwar period in the U.S. and Europe. Writers and organizers experimented with literary form and print culture to build and maintain networks of internationalism. This dissertation begins to suggest some of these maps of connection, paying particular attention to people who played key roles as hubs within networks. British radical Sylvia Pankhurst's 1920s publications, which have not been much considered in terms of literary contribution, put Claude McKay and S.N. Ghose in print in the early 1920s. Her newspaper and literary magazine comprise an early site of black British literature and transnational modernism. Like Pankhurst's paper in the 1920s, black and Left newspapers, pamphlets, and broadsides in the 1930s provided space for alternative accounts of history, and challenged mainstream media representations that excluded women and people of color, promoted war, or failed to adequately resist fascism. Some of these projects, which have often been forgotten or set aside as minor or too political, reside in archives, especially the archives of women who served as editors and organizers. British writer Nancy Cunard and African American organizers Louise Thompson and Thyra Edwards played important and largely unrecognized roles in the life of Langston Hughes's poetry. Contrary to the common impression of Hughes's late 1930s proletarian writing as masculinist, his poetry and his life prominently featured women activists--but this becomes apparent only by looking at their papers. Furthermore, Nancy Cunard and Thyra Edwards each made scrapbooks about the Spanish Civil War that provide alternative histories of the conflict itself, African American organizing efforts, and Republican exile that provide incisive supplements to existing Spanish Civil War scholarship. These writers and organizers created materials that--if recovered from their archives--challenge, revise, or refute existing narratives of the period between the World Wars.

 
 

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