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The African American Roots of ModernismFrom Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance$
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James Smethurst

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834633

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878088_smethurst

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Remembering “Those Noble Sons of Ham”

Remembering “Those Noble Sons of Ham”

Poetry, Soldiers, and Citizens at the End of Reconstruction

(p.66) Chapter Two Remembering “Those Noble Sons of Ham”
The African American Roots of Modernism

James Smethurst

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter presents Richard Terdiman's argument that a particular mark of modernity in Europe—and, ultimately, a central concern of modernism—is the “memory crisis” arising from people's sense of “the insecurity of their culture's involvement with its past, the perturbation of the link to their own inheritance” after the revolutionary period of 1789–1815. If this sense of the insecurity or instability of cultural memory, if, again, “all that is solid melts into air,” is a central topos of modernity and modernism, then some of the earliest literary engagements with the “memory crisis” took place in African American literature.

Keywords:   Richard Terdiman, mark of modernity, modernism, memory crisis, revolutionary period, cultural memory

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