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Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes

 

By Jonathan Scott

 

 

Books by Langston Hughes

Weary Blues (1926) / The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes  /  The Ways of White Folks (Stories) / The Big Sea: An Autobiography

Best of Simple    /  I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey  / New Negro Poets U.S.A.

Not Without Laughter  /Five Plays by Langston Hughes / Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz / Fine Clothes to the Jew / The Collected Works of Langston Hughes (Poems 1921-1940)

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Jonathan Scott. Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes. 2006

 

A highly original and substantial—in many cases, unprecedented—contribution to Hughes scholarship in particular and American studies more generally. The most theoretically sophisticated critical study of Hughes to date.—Christopher C. De Santis, editor of Langston Hughes and the Chicago Defender

 

This book will have a revolutionary effect on Hughes scholarship. The most satisfying work I’ve read in a long time.—Leslie Sanders, coeditor of The Collected Works of Langston Hughes

 

One of the foremost African American writers of his generation, Langston Hughes waged a tireless campaign against racial oppression that defied the anticommunist currents of cold war America. Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes examines his writing during this period to show that his approach to the main philosophical currents of the era was original, dynamic, and systematic in ways that most scholars have yet to appreciate.

Jonathan Scott has written the first book-length study to analyze the extraordinary range of Hughes’s creative output, showing that his unassailable reputation as one of America’s finest “folk poets” barely scratches the surface of his oeuvre. Scott offers a robust account of the relations between Hughes and political activism to show that Hughes’s direct involvement with the U.S. socialist movement of the 1920s and 1930s was largely responsible for the variety of his writing. Scott also contends that the goal of overthrowing white oppression produced a “socialist joy” that would express itself repeatedly in Hughes’s work during the anticommunist crusades of the 1950s and 1960s.

In his provocative study, Scott explores four areas of Hughes’s intellectual work: his relationship with Afro-Caribbean arts, Soviet Russia, and the Harlem Renaissance; his postwar newspaper writing for the African American press; his extensive cultural work as an anthologist; and his writings for young people. Through these analyses, Scott proposes the concept of “red, white, and black” as an alternative paradigm for appreciating Hughes in particular and the American scene in general. 

Scott views Hughes not simply as a great author but as an American working-class intellectual trickster whose eccentric projects require a redefinition of the very concept of authorship. By focusing on Hughes’s intellectual method, Scott also contests the notion of reducing all African Americans to one undifferentiated social status beneath that of any class within the white oppressing group—a hallmark of racial oppression that has diminished, in the U.S. academy, Hughes’s international status.

As Scott persuasively argues, it is only through an understanding of Hughes’s literary method that we can undertake a thorough account of his prolific production during the cold war era. His book situates Hughes’s life and work in their proper contexts, both reconfirming Hughes’s reputation as an intellectual of the American Left and establishing his long-denied place in American studies as the most well-rounded writer of his time.

Source: UMsystem

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 Contents

Acknowledgments     xi

Introduction     1

1. The Backward Glance     14

2. Socialism, Nationalism, and Nation-Consciousness: The Antinomies of Langston Hughes     56

3. The Poet as Journalist: Aesthetics of Black Equality     106

4. The Collage Aesthetic: The Writer as Teacher     156

Conclusion     219

Bibliography     227

Index     245

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Scholarly Books on Langston Hughes

Martha Cobb. Harlem,  Haiti, and Havana: A comparative critical study of Langston Hughes, Jacques Roumain, Nicolás Guillén. 1979.

 

Faith Berry. Before & Beyond Harlem: Biography of Langston Hughes. 1995.

 

Faith Berry, edited Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Writings of Langston Hughes. 1973

 

Arnold Rampersad. The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume I: 1902-1941, I, Too, Sing America (Life of Langston Hughes, 1902-1941). 2002

 

Arnold Rampersad. The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume II: 1914-1967, I Dream a World (Life of Langston Hughes, 1941-1967). 2002

 

Steven C. Tracy. Langston Hughes and the Blues. 2001

 

R. Baxter Miller. The Art And Imagination of Langston Hughes. 2006.

 

Christopher C Santis, Christopher C Santis, Langston Hughes and the *Chicago Defender*: Essays on Race, Politics, and Culture, 1942-62. 1995

 

Jonathan Scott Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes. 2006

Jonathan Scott is Assistant Professor of English at Al-Quds University in Abu Dees, the West Bank, and the author of Socialist Joy in the Writing of Langston Hughes . jonascott15@aol.com

posted 17 November 2006

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Home  Jonathan Scott Table

Related files: Langston Hughes Bio  New Negro Poets U.S.A.   In Praise of Langston Hughes  Sermon and Blues    Notes of a Native Son  (Langston Reviews Baldwin)  Socialist Joy  Langston Hughes to Christian  

 Langston Hughes Life and Works