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Escape from New YorkThe New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem$
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Davarian L. Baldwin and Minkah Makalani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677382

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677382.001.0001

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Black Modernist Women at the Parisian Crossroads

Black Modernist Women at the Parisian Crossroads

(p.227) 9 Black Modernist Women at the Parisian Crossroads
Escape from New York

Jennifer M. Wilks

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores Paulette Nardal’s triumvirate of gender (“women students”), geography (“Paris”), and nation (“metropolis”) and how it operates in her work as well as in that of her U.S. contemporary Jessie Redmon Fauset. In her 1932 essay “Eveil de la Conscience de Race” (“Awakening of Race Consciousness”), Nardal, a Martinican intellectual, argues that the construct of gender is as important as geography and nation in the articulation of racial identities. This chapter considers how—or why—Paris serves as a narrative, social, or personal catalyst for Nardal’s and Fauset’s respective autobiographical and fictional personae. It examines the role of Paris in Fauset’s African American women and highlights the French city as an instrumental modernist crossroads where black women writers such as Nardal and Fauset negotiated intersecting categories of identity both in their own lives and in those of their characters. It also discusses how African diasporic intellectuals incorporated gender into their understandings of modern black identities in ways that challenged the masculinism of the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude.

Keywords:   gender, Paulette Nardal, geography, Paris, nation, Jessie Redmon Fauset, African American women, black women writers, Harlem Renaissance, Negritude

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