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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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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2019

“A Small Man in Big Spaces”: The New Negro, the Mestizo, andJean Toomer’s Southwest

“A Small Man in Big Spaces”: The New Negro, the Mestizo, andJean Toomer’s Southwest

Chapter:
(p.157) 6 “A Small Man in Big Spaces”: The New Negro, the Mestizo, andJean Toomer’s Southwest
Source:
Escape from New York
Author(s):

Emily Lutenski

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816677382.003.0007

This chapter reads Jean Toomer, an American writer and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance and modernism, in the mestizo context of Greater Mexico and places him within the Harlem milieu and the wider New Negro movement. Toomer’s opus, Cane (1923), is considered the harbinger of New Negro literature. After Cane, Toomer is said to have left the New York literary scene behind and moved to the Southwest. In his essay “New Mexico after India,” Toomer describes an attachment to place—a feeling of home—that remains unsatisfied in Cane, where both the North and the South cannot accommodate the racially ambiguous. India is consistently mentioned in Toomer’s biography and southwestern writing, a reminder that the Southwest is engaged in the processes of modernization and racialization that exist not only in the place Toomer inhabits as “a small man in big spaces...between Taos and Santa Fe” but also in Harlem, Mexico, India, and other complex routes revealed in his southwestern archive.

Keywords:   modernism, mestizo, Jean Toomer, New Negro movement, Cane, New York, Southwest, New Mexico, India, racialization

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