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Hustlers in the House of Literature

Hustlers in the House of Literature

Julian Mayfield, Chester Himes, and the Black Literary Ghetto

Chapter:
(p.79) 3 Hustlers in the House of Literature
Source:
Under a Bad Sign
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226550374.003.0004

This chapter examines African American literature in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. It analyzes the overlooked works of Julian Mayfield and Chester Himes and provides new insights into the crises confronting the more canonized members of the black literati during this period. The chapter suggests that popular literary production of African American writers was designed to decenter the dominant understanding of the period and its cultural meaning for black America, and that that anti-institutional character of ghetto-centric writing contradicted efforts toward integration.

Keywords:   African American literature, Julia Mayfield, Chesther Himes, black literati, popular literary production, African American writers, cultural meaning, ghetto-centric writing, integration

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