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Products for Grant RA-50080-09

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - Scholars in Residence Program
Khalil Muhammad, New York Public Library

Grant details:

The Coup of Langston Hughes's Picasso Period: Excavating Mayakovsky in Langston Hughes's Verse (Article)
Title: The Coup of Langston Hughes's Picasso Period: Excavating Mayakovsky in Langston Hughes's Verse
Author: Ryan James Kernan
Abstract: Literary critics in the U.S. have generally considered the artistic merit of Langston Hughes's so-called radical poetic production of the 1930s to be far below the standard the poet set in the previous decade. Its detractors tend to distinguish it from Hughes's 1920s poetry, associating the latter with a black nationalist literary aesthetic linked to an embrace of Pan-Africanism and the former with a proletarian poetic tied to a decidedly Marxist analysis of race and class-conflict. This article offers a counter-narrative to these reigning critical discourses by focusing on an instance where Hughes mined his experience as a translator to offer an ethical, albeit pessimistic, vision of black internationalism infused with a Marxist outlook and conveyed through poetic innovations of hybrid ethno-linguistic origin. The essay's first half demonstrates that Hughes's engagement with Mayakovsky left a trail of historical and literary evidence that reveals how Mayakovsky's poetics had a profound impact on Hughes's own political outlook and poetic palette. Nowhere is this influence more clear than in Hughes's poem “Cubes” (1934), a reading of which forms the second part of this essay. “Cubes” exhibits poetic innovations provoked by his engagement with Mayakovskian poetics — particularly with Mayakovsky's notion that revolutionary poetry succeeded best when it both invoked and transgressed the rules governing “antiquarian” poetry in a dialectical process that he labeled as “coup.” The literary mastery manifest in this endeavor displays the often-overlooked aesthetic sophistication of Hughes radical poetry. “Cubes” offers a nuanced vision of black internationalism and demonstrates the role that translation played in Hughes's overall creative process.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Journal Website
Access Model: Subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Comparative Literature Volume 66, Number 2: 227-246
Publisher: Duke University Press

The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others: A Global Perspective (Book)
Title: The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others: A Global Perspective
Author: Esther Lezra
Abstract: The Colonial Art of Demonizing Others examines European mistranslations and misrepresentations of black freedom dreams and self-activity as monstrous in the period of modern imperial consolidation –roughly from 1750 to 1848. This book argues that Europe’s archives of self-understanding are haunted by the traces of Black radical resistance. Just as Europe’s economy came to depend upon the raw materials, markets, and labor it secured from the colonies, European culture came to be based on fantasies and phobias derived from the unruly and unmanageable aftershocks of colonial violence and counter-insurgency. Rather than assert that European nationalist and abolitionist discourses are on the side of emancipatory movements, the book shows the limits of the promise of that discourse, and the continuation of those limitations that makes the continued pursuit of that promise a questionable activity. This book does not wish to salvage the emancipatory promises of European discourse, but considers the more difficult and uncomfortable question of why emancipatory movements represented the struggles of anticolonial and radical blackness the way they did.
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description:
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Publisher's website
Publisher: Routledge
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780415742269
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes