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From Harlem to Copenhagen: African American authors in Europe
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Humaniora.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3020-7814
2000 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2000.
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-19921OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hkr-19921DiVA, id: diva2:1347270
Conference
Swedish Association for American Studies (SAAS), American History, Culture and Society, Södertörns Högskola, October 5-7, 2000.
Available from: 2019-08-30 Created: 2019-08-30 Last updated: 2019-09-02Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf