Psychology Comes to Harlem
Rethinking the Race Question in Twentieth-Century America
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.
About the Author
Jay Garcia is an associate professor of comparative literature at New York University.
"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."
"Garcia provides a compelling narrative of the changing uses of psychological discourses in literary and critical social analyses from the 1940s to the 1960s. A strength of the book is the deftness with which Garcia moves across genres... The research for this monograph is clearly rigorous and thorough and Garcia handles a large body of secondary sources skillfully... Psychology Comes to Harlem is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of any student or scholar interested in the intellectual context of mid-20th-century antiracist novelists and social commentators."
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
|New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History|
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