Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

1/1/2008 - 12/31/2008

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Langston Hughes's Middle Way

FAIN: FA-53972-08

David Evan Chinitz
Loyola University, Chicago (Chicago, IL 60611-2147)

I propose to complete a book manuscript on the African-American poet Langston Hughes. The book will show how, with regard to various aesthetic problems and ethical dilemmas that confronted him, Hughes strove to navigate between extremes that threatened his art, his integrity, and his unique public status as the literary voice of ordinary African Americans. My project thus lies at the intersection of ethics and aesthetics. Chapters address Hughes's ambivalent mastery of political compromise; his interventions in the shifting definition of "authentic blackness"; his engagement with the popular primitivism of the 1920s; and his effort to satisfy together the sometimes-conflicting demands of poetry and folk art.

Media Coverage

Review (Review)
Author(s): Whalan, Mark
Publication: Twentieth Century Literature
Date: 7/1/2015

Review (Review)
Author(s): Jones, Sharon L.
Publication: African American Literature
Date: 4/1/2015

Langston Hughes: Fringe Modernism, Identity and Defying the Interrogator Witch-Hunter (Review)
Author(s): Yomna Saber
Publication: Journal of American Studies
Date: 1/21/2015
Abstract: Review essay on "The Worlds of Langston Hughes," by Vera Kutzinski, and "Which Sin to Bear?" by David E. Chinitz

Associated Products

Which Sin To Bear? Authenticity and Compromise in Langston Hughes (Book)
Title: Which Sin To Bear? Authenticity and Compromise in Langston Hughes
Author: David E Chinitz
Abstract: Langston Hughes survived as a writer for over forty years under conditions that made survival virtually heroic. Determined on a literary career at a time when no African American had yet been able to live off his or her writing, Hughes not only faced poverty and racism but found himself pressed by the competing hopes, expectations, and demands of readers and critics. He relied on his skill as a mediator among competing positions in order to preserve his art, his integrity, and his unique status as the poetic voice of ordinary African Americans. Which Sin To Bear? explores Hughes’s efforts to negotiate problems of identity and ethics he faced as an African American professional writer and intellectual. The book traces his early efforts to fashion himself as an “authentic” black poet of the Harlem Renaissance and his later imagining of a new and more inclusive understanding of authentic blackness. It examines Hughes’s lasting, yet self-critical commitment to progressive politics in the mid-century years. And it shows how, in spite of his own ambivalence—and, at times, anguish—Hughes was forced to engage in ethical compromises to achieve his personal and social goals. The book is also the first to analyze Hughes’s executive-session testimony before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which was unavailable to the public for half a century. David Chinitz digs into Hughes’s creative work, newspaper columns, letters, and unpublished papers to reveal a writer who faced a daunting array of dicey questions and intimidating obstacles, and whose triumphs and occasional missteps are a fascinating and telling part of his legacy.
Year: 2013
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780199919697
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Hughes and the McCarthy Committee Behind Closed Doors (Article)
Title: Hughes and the McCarthy Committee Behind Closed Doors
Author: David E Chinitz
Abstract: Read it and find out!
Year: 2019
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: JSTOR
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: The Langston Hughes Review
Publisher: Penn State UP