Monday, December 4th, 2017...9:59 pmhange

Creating Society at the End of Empire

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The First World War and the time period around it had a transformative, profound effect on colonized peoples. The tensions between European empires led to the outbreak of World War I, which included the U.S. Literary responses to this moment from writers of artistic, political movements laid out the foundation for discourse on post-colonialism and race relations. Writers of Harlem Renaissance and Celtic Revival, in particular, explore the effect of decolonization on perceived notions of race, class, and multiculturalism. Padiac Colum, Willian B. Yeats, Constance Markievicz, W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson (among others) critically observed the impact imperial ambitions placed on colonized peoples. Both movements used similar strategies to develop their presence and purpose. First, writers constructed a history of pre-colonial heritage. Second, they express nostalgia for a land from which they were geographically and/or historically separated. Third, they used their writings to assert their own notions of nation-state and self. These strategies for building artistic, political movements created themes and ideas for sustained discoursed. They also prioritize the perspective of colonized people on imperial decline and cultural renewal.

Comment: This is less of anthology rough introduction and more of a paper introduction.

Concern: I want to make sure I include disclaimers on authors’ status and privileges. I think it is important to mention that there are many writers who speak for a cause, but tend to marginalized people. How would I go about including that?

Question: Is the connection between WWI and the CR and HR clear? How could I make it smoother or clearer?


  • I don’t think I understand your concern, but I think this is a really cool idea! To talk about the global concerns that affected these authors and poets that drove them to create literary works as such is something I haven’t thought about at all. I’m interested to see who you relate a huge conflict like WWI, to the unique innovative nature of HR and CR:)

  • I think that you have successfully articulated the connection between the First World War, the Celtic Revival, and the Harlem Renaissance. I think that it is best said when you list a first point, then a second point. It was very clear to me that you have made the connection between writers works during these movements and the feeling towards World War 1 through these two points. I think that you could make this feel a bit more like an anthology introduction if you used first or second person, as if you are talking to the students who will read this in the future. This sounds like such an interesting topic!

  • I have been considering shifting my anthology to a similar topic, and I think that you are definitely headed in the right direction! One method that I think might help you to solidify this idea would be to consider what you mean by imperialism and colonial power within the two movements. For example, while Ireland during the Celtic Revival was oppressed by Britain, African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance were arguably oppressed by predominately white institutions/society. By finding ways in which these types of oppression are linked, you might be able to narrow your focus! Overall, great post and very interesting topic! 🙂

  •   Professor Seiler
    December 8th, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    Elaine–so glad you’ve embraced the (relative) specificity of WWI as your focus for this project. Any new developments since we last talked?

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