Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism : Suzanne Lacascade, Marita Bonner, Suzanne Césaire, Dorothy West

By: Wilks, Jennifer MMaterial type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on DemandPublisher: Baton Rouge : LSU Press, 2008Edition: 1Description: 1 online resource (272 p.)ISBN: 9780807134870Subject(s): American literature - African American authors - History and criticism | American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism | American literature - Women authors - History and criticism | American literature -- Women authors -- History and criticism | Caribbean literature (French) - Black authors - History and criticism | Caribbean literature (French) -- Black authors -- History and criticism | Caribbean literature (French) - Women authors - History and criticism | Caribbean literature (French) -- Women authors -- History and criticism | Comparative literature -- American and Caribbean (French) | Comparative literature -- Caribbean (French) and American | Literature, Comparative - American and Caribbean (French) | Literature, Comparative - Caribbean (French) and American | Modernism (Literature) - Caribbean Area | Modernism (Literature) -- Caribbean Area | Modernism (Literature) - United States | Modernism (Literature) -- United States | Race in literature | Race in literature | Women, Black, in literature | Women, Black, in literatureGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism : Suzanne Lacascade, Marita Bonner, Suzanne Césaire, Dorothy WestDDC classification: 810.9/896073 | 810.9896073 LOC classification: PS153.N5 W495 2008Online resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Cover; Contents; Acknowledgments; Introduction: Model Modernity; 1. A Dying Exoticism: The Enigmatic Fiction of Suzanne Lacascade; 2. The Limits of Exemplarity: Marita Bonner's Alternative Modernist Landscapes; 3. Surrealist Dreams, Martinican Realities: The Negritude of Suzanne Césaire; 4. Black Modernism in Retrospect: Dorothy West's New (Negro) Women; Conclusion: Atypical Women Revisited; Notes; Bibliography; Index; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; R; S; T; W; Y; Z
Summary: Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism revives and critiques four African American and Francophone Caribbean women writers sometimes overlooked in discussions of early-twentieth-century literature: Guadeloupean Suzanne Lacascade (dates unknown), African American Marita Bonner (1899-1971), Martinican Suzanne Césaire (1913-1966), and African American Dorothy West (1907-1998). Reexamining their most significant work, Jennifer M. Wilks demonstrates how their writing challenges prevailing racial archetypes-such as the New Negro and the Negritude hero-of the period from the 1920s to the 1940s, and explores how these writers tapped into modernist currents from expressionism to surrealism to produce progressive treatments of race, gender, and nation that differed from those of currently canonized black writers of the era, the great majority of whom are men.Wilks begins with Lacascade, whom she deems "best known for being unknown," reading Lacascade''s novel Claire-Solange, âme africaine (1924) as a protofeminist, proto-Negritude articulation of Caribbean identity. She then examines the fissures left unexplored in New Negro visions of African American community by showing the ways in which Bonner''s essays, plays, and short stories highlight issues of economic class. Césaire applied the ideas and techniques of surrealism to the French language, and Wilks reveals how her writings in the journal Tropiques (1941-45) directly and insightfully engage the intellectual influences that informed the work of canonical Negritude. Wilks'' close reading of West''s The Living Is Easy (1948) provides a retrospective critique of the forces that continued to circumscribe women''s lives in the midst of the social and cultural awakening presumably embodied in the New Negro. To show how the black literary tradition has continued to confront the conflation of gender roles with social and literary conventions, Wilks examines these writers alongside the late twentieth-century writings of Maryse Condé and Toni Morrison. Unlike many literary analysts, Wilks does not bring together the four writers based on geography. Lacascade and Césaire came from different Caribbean islands, and though Bonner and West were from the United States, they never crossed paths. In considering this eclectic group of women writers together, Wilks reveals the analytical possibilities opened up by comparing works influenced by multiple intellectual traditions.
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Cover; Contents; Acknowledgments; Introduction: Model Modernity; 1. A Dying Exoticism: The Enigmatic Fiction of Suzanne Lacascade; 2. The Limits of Exemplarity: Marita Bonner's Alternative Modernist Landscapes; 3. Surrealist Dreams, Martinican Realities: The Negritude of Suzanne Césaire; 4. Black Modernism in Retrospect: Dorothy West's New (Negro) Women; Conclusion: Atypical Women Revisited; Notes; Bibliography; Index; A; B; C; D; E; F; G; H; I; J; K; L; M; N; O; P; R; S; T; W; Y; Z

Race, Gender, and Comparative Black Modernism revives and critiques four African American and Francophone Caribbean women writers sometimes overlooked in discussions of early-twentieth-century literature: Guadeloupean Suzanne Lacascade (dates unknown), African American Marita Bonner (1899-1971), Martinican Suzanne Césaire (1913-1966), and African American Dorothy West (1907-1998). Reexamining their most significant work, Jennifer M. Wilks demonstrates how their writing challenges prevailing racial archetypes-such as the New Negro and the Negritude hero-of the period from the 1920s to the 1940s, and explores how these writers tapped into modernist currents from expressionism to surrealism to produce progressive treatments of race, gender, and nation that differed from those of currently canonized black writers of the era, the great majority of whom are men.Wilks begins with Lacascade, whom she deems "best known for being unknown," reading Lacascade''s novel Claire-Solange, âme africaine (1924) as a protofeminist, proto-Negritude articulation of Caribbean identity. She then examines the fissures left unexplored in New Negro visions of African American community by showing the ways in which Bonner''s essays, plays, and short stories highlight issues of economic class. Césaire applied the ideas and techniques of surrealism to the French language, and Wilks reveals how her writings in the journal Tropiques (1941-45) directly and insightfully engage the intellectual influences that informed the work of canonical Negritude. Wilks'' close reading of West''s The Living Is Easy (1948) provides a retrospective critique of the forces that continued to circumscribe women''s lives in the midst of the social and cultural awakening presumably embodied in the New Negro. To show how the black literary tradition has continued to confront the conflation of gender roles with social and literary conventions, Wilks examines these writers alongside the late twentieth-century writings of Maryse Condé and Toni Morrison. Unlike many literary analysts, Wilks does not bring together the four writers based on geography. Lacascade and Césaire came from different Caribbean islands, and though Bonner and West were from the United States, they never crossed paths. In considering this eclectic group of women writers together, Wilks reveals the analytical possibilities opened up by comparing works influenced by multiple intellectual traditions.

Description based upon print version of record.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

In this insightful study of the ways in which traditional understanding of modernity fails to encompass the experiences and the writing of black women, Wilks (Univ. of Texas, Austin) "revives and critiques" work by four neglected writers of the 1920s-40s. These writers are not an obvious group, and some of the connections Wilks draws between them--and to the late-20th-century writers Maryse Conde and Toni Morrison (who appear in the conclusion)--are tenuous. That said, Wilks points out that each woman wrote important works that show black women's lives in ways that more canonical modernists, including those of the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movement, do not. For example, the protagonist of Guadeloupe writer Suzanne Lacascade's only novel, Claire-Solange (1924), rejects exoticism (and the stereotypical roles her race, class, and gender would dictate) in favor of a modern self-determination; Martinican Suzanne Cesaire replaces Negritude's historical focus on diaspora with a close, surrealist reading of the here and now. And the fictional women created by African American writers Marita Bonner and Dorothy West negotiate individually with race, gender, and class and emerge as complex, satisfying characters. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. C. A. Bily independent scholar

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Jennifer M. Wilks is an assistant professor of English and African and African American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

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