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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

Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957 (Book)
Title: Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957
Author: Nancy Raquel Mirabal
Abstract: Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Cubans migrated to New York City to organize and protest against Spanish colonial rule. While revolutionary wars raged in Cuba, expatriates envisioned, dissected, and redefined meanings of independence and nationhood. An underlying element was the concept of Cubanidad, a shared sense of what it meant to be Cuban. Deeply influenced by discussions of slavery, freedom, masculinity, and United States imperialism, the question of what and who constituted “being Cuban” remained in flux and often, suspect. Suspect Freedoms is the first book to explore Cuban racial and sexual politics in New York during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Nancy Raquel Mirabal delves into the rich cache of primary sources, archival documents, literary texts, club records, newspapers, photographs, and oral histories to write what Michel Rolph Trouillot has termed an “unthinkable history.” Situating this pivotal era within larger theoretical discussions of potential, future, visibility, and belonging, Mirabal shows how these transformations complicated meanings of territoriality, gender, race, power, and labor. She argues that slavery, nation, and the fear that Cuba would become “another Haiti” were critical in the making of early diasporic Cubanidades, and documents how, by the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Afro-Cubans were authors of their own experiences; organizing movements, publishing texts, and establishing important political, revolutionary, and social clubs.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Publisher: New York University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780814761120
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive (Book)
Title: Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archive
Author: Marisa J. Fuentes
Abstract: In the eighteenth century, Bridgetown, Barbados, was heavily populated by both enslaved and free women. Marisa J. Fuentes creates a portrait of urban Caribbean slavery in this colonial town from the perspective of these women whose stories appear only briefly in historical records. Fuentes takes us through the streets of Bridgetown with an enslaved runaway; inside a brothel run by a freed woman of color; in the midst of a white urban household in sexual chaos; to the gallows where enslaved people were executed; and within violent scenes of enslaved women's punishments. In the process, Fuentes interrogates the archive and its historical production to expose the ongoing effects of white colonial power that constrain what can be known about these women. Combining fragmentary sources with interdisciplinary methodologies that include black feminist theory and critical studies of history and slavery, Fuentes demonstrates how the construction of the archive marked enslaved women's bodies, in life and in death. By vividly recounting enslaved life through the experiences of individual women and illuminating their conditions of confinement through the legal, sexual, and representational power wielded by slave owners, colonial authorities, and the archive, Fuentes challenges the way we write histories of vulnerable and often invisible subjects.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780812248227
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes