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Psychology Comes to Harlem

Rethinking the Race Question in Twentieth-Century America

Jay Garcia

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In the years preceding the modern civil rights era, cultural critics profoundly affected American letters through psychologically informed explorations of racial ideology and segregationist practice. Jay Garcia’s probing look at how and why these critiques arose and the changes they wrought demonstrates the central role Richard Wright and his contemporaries played in devising modern antiracist cultural analysis.

Departing from the largely accepted existence of a "Negro Problem," Wright and such literary luminaries as Ralph Ellison, Lillian Smith, and James Baldwin described and challenged a...

In the years preceding the modern civil rights era, cultural critics profoundly affected American letters through psychologically informed explorations of racial ideology and segregationist practice. Jay Garcia’s probing look at how and why these critiques arose and the changes they wrought demonstrates the central role Richard Wright and his contemporaries played in devising modern antiracist cultural analysis.

Departing from the largely accepted existence of a "Negro Problem," Wright and such literary luminaries as Ralph Ellison, Lillian Smith, and James Baldwin described and challenged a racist social order whose psychological undercurrents implicated all Americans and had yet to be adequately studied. Motivated by the elastic possibilities of clinical and academic inquiry, writers and critics undertook a rethinking of "race" and assessed the value of psychotherapy and psychological theory as antiracist strategies. Garcia examines how this new criticism brought together black and white writers and became a common idiom through fiction and nonfiction that attracted wide readerships.

An illuminating picture of mid-twentieth-century American literary culture and learned life, Psychology Comes to Harlem reveals the critical and intellectual innovation of literary artists who bridged psychology and antiracism to challenge segregation.

Reviews

Reviews

Garcia does an amazing job of condensing a topic and clearly sparking the dialectic for continued expansive discourse. This volume fills a void in exposing the psychologically informed critical vision vis-à-vis literary artists in the mid-20th century.

Psychology Comes to Harlem stages an acute and potentially highly productive intervention in scholarship on the history of representations of African Americans.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
232
ISBN
9781421405414
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Richard Wright Writing: The Unconscious Machinery of Race Relations
2. Richard Wright Reading: The Promise of Social Psychiatry
3. Race and Minorities from Below: The

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Richard Wright Writing: The Unconscious Machinery of Race Relations
2. Richard Wright Reading: The Promise of Social Psychiatry
3. Race and Minorities from Below: The Wartime Cultural Criticism of Chester Himes, Horace Cayton, Ralph Ellison, and C. L. R. James
4. Strange Fruit: Lillian Smith and the Making of Whiteness
5. Notes on a Native Son: James Baldwin in Postwar America
Conclusion
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Jay Garcia
Featured Contributor

Jay Garcia

Jay Garcia is an associate professor of comparative literature at New York University.