cover of book

Jazz Internationalism: Literary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music
by John Lowney
University of Illinois Press, 2017
Cloth: 978-0-252-04133-4 | eISBN: 978-0-252-09993-9 | Paper: 978-0-252-08286-3
Library of Congress Classification PS153.N5L73 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 810.9896073

Jazz emerged during the political and social upheaval of world war, communist revolution, Red Scares, and the Black Migration. The tumult bred disagreements about the cultural significance of jazz that concerned both its African American roots and its international appeal. The questions about what was new or even radical about the music initiated debates that writers recapitulated for decades.

Jazz Internationalism offers a bold reconsideration of jazz's influence in Afro-modernist literature. Ranging from the New Negro Renaissance through the social movements of the 1960s, John Lowney articulates nothing less than a new history of Afro-modernist jazz writing. Jazz added immeasurably to the vocabulary for discussing radical internationalism and black modernism in leftist African American literature. Lowney examines how Claude McKay, Ann Petry, Langston Hughes, and many other writers employed jazz as both a critical social discourse and mode of artistic expression to explore the possibilities—and challenges—of black internationalism. The result is an expansive understanding of jazz writing sure to spur new debates.

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