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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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A Familiar and Warm Relationship

A Familiar and Warm Relationship

Race, Sexual Freedom, and U.S. Literary Modernism

(p.155) Chapter Five A Familiar and Warm Relationship
The African American Roots of Modernism

James Smethurst

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter presents one of the problems in discussing an “American” modernism or avant-garde before the 1920s involving the confusion about whether one is talking about art and artistic circles within the United States or whether one includes such expatriates as Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, and Ezra Pound. While it certainly makes sense to include the expatriates, doing so without some attention to their geographic location has given rise to distorted notions about modernism and U.S. bohemia, creating a vision of modernism centered in the United States that is far more apolitical, racist, anti-Semitic, and masculinist than was actually the case. This distortion has been only partly corrected by more recent scholarship on feminist modernism and the “Lyrical Left” of Greenwich Village and Towertown during the first two decades of the twentieth century by such scholars as Christine Stansell, Suzanne Churchill, and Franklin Rosemont.

Keywords:   American modernism, artistic circles, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound

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