By A. Kent
This booklet examines literature via African, local, and Jewish American novelists firstly of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval whilst such voices proven themselves as principal figures within the American literary canon.
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Additional info for African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism
In commanding the viewer to “do jis so” and imitate the performer every time he “weel[s] about / And jump[s] Jim Crow,” the song demands its white audience to imitate the white man who is imitating an African American man. The song becomes a metacommentary on the imitation central to minstrelsy. The minstrel show became a safe place for Euro-Americans to learn, or so they believed, about African Americans from a distance. Many gained their primary exposure to (what they presumed to be) African American culture through blackface performances.
As Mikhail Bakhtin has suggested, the novel is a hybrid construction, a blend of languages, styles, and utterances in a heteroglossic construct. Rather than a closed system, the novel is polyphonic and includes a mix of voices and of genres, many languages and meanings juxtaposed with one another in narrative tension. The heteroglossia of the text foregrounds the Bakhtinian notion that language consists of multiple voices, allowing the reader to hear the repressed voices alongside the hegemonic voices in a dialogic exchange.
Nonetheless, migration represented an act of agency, the means to assert a sense of identity and control over one’s life, an act of resistance to the confinement and violence of the South (Grossman; Rodgers; Foner and Mahoney). As Amiri Baraka notes, “It was a decision Negroes made to leave the South, not an historical imperative” (96). To keep African Americans confined to southern rural areas, many whites responded with threats, scare tactics, and outright violence. Some tried to persuade African Americans to remain on plantations by promising improved conditions (although often not delivering on promises), but others were less subtle, making threats and enforcing vagrancy and employment laws (Franklin and Moss 279).
African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism by A. Kent