Popular Fronts

Popular Fronts : Chicago and African-American Cultural Politics, 1935-46

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In a stunning revision of radical politics during the Popular Front period, Bill Mullen redefines the cultural renaissance of the 1930s and early 1940s as the fruit of an extraordinary rapprochement between African-American and white members of the U.S. Left struggling to create a new 'American Negro' culture. A dynamic reappraisal of a critical moment in American cultural history, "Popular Fronts" includes a major reassessment of the politics of Richard Wright's critical reputation, a provocative reading of class struggle in Gwendolyn Brooks' Street in Bronzeville, and in-depth examinations of the institutions that comprised Chicago's black popular front: the Chicago Defender, the period's leading black newspaper; "Negro Story", the first magazine devoted to publishing short stories by and about black Americans; and the WPA-sponsored South Side Community Art Center.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 152.4 x 220.98 x 20.32mm | 317.51g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 7ill.
  • 0252067487
  • 9780252067488

Review quote

"Mullen marries investigation and a well-executed idea of story in this well-researched piece of scholarship on black art, black literature and literary publications, and the cultural politics of Chicago's African American community." -Choice "Mullen's mission is to refresh our cultural memories. He wants to remind us not only of African-American cultural production in the 'Chicago Renaissance' that took place before and during World War II, but also that the U.S. Left -- in the form of the Communist Party and the individuals and organizations of its Popular Front -- played a significant role in the period... Mullen's task is a commendable one, for too often this period ... is overlooked." -- J. Martin Favor, American Historical Review "All readers who are interested in the history of Chicago, African American culture,and leftist politics are sure to find some benefit from Mullen's richly detailed andboldly revisionist study." - Bruce R. Kahler, Journal of Illinois History "Simply put, Mullen's book aims to be a corrective to earlier treatments of the Popular Front... Only Mullen explicitly treats the Popular Front throughout its two phases (before and after the Hitler-Stalin Pact) as both a high point and something of a model to be emulated. And he does this in a nuanced fashion, emphasizing the semi-autonomy of the companion front." - Alan Wald, Against the Current ADVANCE PRAISE "Based on impressive fieldwork to which all scholars of African-American culture and the Left will be indebted, Popular Fronts provides a fresh and vigorous narrative of the symbiotic relation of Communism to black literature, art, and journalism in Chicago from the mid-1930s to the advent of the cold war. Mullen reconstructs the local practice of the 'Negro People's Front' with a specificity and cogency that comprises a singular advance in U.S. cultural studies." - AlanWald, author of Writing from the Left "Popular Fronts rediscovers a critical stretch of American cultural history. The fullest and most pointed study yet of the black Chicago renaissance, it is a generous, immediately usable contribution to radical history, U.S.literary history, and African-American studies." - William Maxwell, author of New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism between theWars "A pioneering study... [Popular Fronts] breaks new ground inthe study of left politics and African-American cultural production during the 1930sand 1940s." - James A. Miller, editor of Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smithshow more