Both of these texts derive their power from theorizations of US black radicalisms based on original close readings of neglected texts, offering new radical canons that contribute to the scholarship that documents an intellectual tradition of black radicalism. While other Cold War analyses often emphasize McCarthyism as a technique of fear, James Ziegler argues that anticommunism became embedded in US culture as a national pedagogy, produced as if it represented “abstract, universal reason” (10) and possessing a kind of “innate rectitude” (6) that cast communism in the political imagination as not only un-American but anathema to common sense, a kind of depraved knowledge that is literally “unthinkable” (17). As the title of Ziegler’s book suggests, the Red Scare witch hunt always had a racist subtext, targeting Cold War black radicalism, which was easily smeared by its associations with the Left. The House Un-American Activities Committee, for example, routinely suggested that...
Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism
Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism
Mary Helen Washington is Distinguished University Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has studied, taught, and written about African American literature since 1975, when she was appointed director of black studies at the University of Detroit. She is the author of The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia Univ. Press, 2014) and the editor of several anthologies of stories by black writers.
Mary Helen Washington; Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism
Radical Aesthetics and Modern Black Nationalism. American Literature 1 December 2017; 89 (4): 901–903. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-4257976
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