From Harlem to Copenhagen: African American authors in Europe

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Sammanfattning

This paper deals with images of Europe in African American fiction from the 1920’s. What are the implications for an African American author of including a European episode in her or his fiction? More specifically, I will look at how the European setting affects the representations of race and identity in African American women’s fiction from the inter war years. Special focus is placed on the works of Jessie Fauset’s There Is Confusion (1924) and Nella Larsen’s Quicksand (1928). In their different ways, these novels highlight many of the larger issues that are characteristic of the 1920’s, such as primitivism versus civilization, questions of cultural ‘belonging,’ the black artists’ relationship to modernity, and the establishment of an African American artistic tradition.

I argue that the representations of Europe are symbolic geographies, allowing for criticism of social and historical conditions in America. Through the fictional encounters with European life, Nella Larsen and Jessie Fauset provide us with a lens through which we can see what we call “Western civilization.” The travels in Europe become a way of interrogating the role of the African American in the construction of this civilization. Performance is hereby an important trope, which relates to the authors’ understandings of culture, race and historical agency.

OriginalspråkEngelska
StatusPublicerad - 2000
EvenemangSwedish Association for American Studies (SAAS), American History, Culture and Society, Södertörns Högskola, October 5-7, 2000. -
Varaktighet: 1980-jan.-01 → …

Konferens

KonferensSwedish Association for American Studies (SAAS), American History, Culture and Society, Södertörns Högskola, October 5-7, 2000.
Period80-01-01 → …

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  • Humaniora och konst (6)

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