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Du Bois's Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment.


Du Bois's Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment

Juliana Spahr

Harvard University Press


246 pages




In 1956, sociologist, historian and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du BoisAEs request for a passport to attend the Congress of Black Writers and Artists, in Paris, was denied. Du Bois sent the group a telegram that said: oAny Negro-American who travels abroad today must either not discuss race conditions in the United States or say the sort of thing which our State Department wishes the world to believe.o Spahr takes the telegram seriously by thinking about the ramifications, and concludes that the governmentAEs interest in literature should not be taken lightly. She traces the impact of their interference into the present. She cites the need for examples in order to understand the relationship between literature and politics. She focuses on three examples: the turn of the twentieth century avant-garde modernism, movement literature of the sixties and seventies, and literature in English that includes other languages at the turn of the twenty-first century. She emphasizes that her book is about literary production as shaped by external forcesuthe result of a long history of governmental meddling in literature production and the impact it has on contemporary literature. Her intention is to write a history of how literature is unusually manipulated and dependent. ([umlaut] Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR)

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Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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