Protégé poet to mentor: the evolution of Langston Hughes’ personal/professional network and its influence on black cultural production

Jalal Kamali, Shima (2018) Protégé poet to mentor: the evolution of Langston Hughes’ personal/professional network and its influence on black cultural production. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This research is concerned with Langston Hughes’ professional and personal contacts and their impact on his cultural production.One of the foremost African American writers of his generation, Hughes has been mainly considered in the context of the Harlem Renaissance, with scholars critically assessing his writings. This thesis, by contrast, takes a ‘network approach’ to Hughes’ work and argues that his inter and intra-racial relationships, international collaborations and friendships, and the strategies (e.g. professional contacts, financial resources) served to sustain and protect first Hughes’ black cultural production and second, to build a ‘black cultural infrastructure’.In the introduction, ‘network’ and social capital are theorized using the work of Pierre Bourdieu and Mark Granovetter. The first chapter examines Hughes’ working relationship with his black and white patronsand their impact on his early years as a poet. In Chapter Two, this thesis examines how Hughes,in an effort to find other means than just private patronage to sustain his literary career,became involved in the wider political networks of the American left. In Chapter Three, I continue the examination of Hughes’ efforts to find alternative means tosustain his literary career but also create more opportunities for black artistic expression in the dominant literary fieldby assessing his professional network ties. In Chapter Four, I examine how Hughes, during the last two decades of his life, in the face ofpolitical persecution, reclaimed control over his artistic rights, and engaged through his writings, speeches and mentoring a new generation of black writers and artists. The thesis as a whole thus demonstrates how, with the expansion of his socialcapital (aka network ties), Hughes was able to build a writing career, defend his artistic rights, create alternative black cultural spaces, and nurture the development of future black writers and artists.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > American Studies
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0184 Elements in the population
E History America > E151 United States (General) > E0740 Twentieth century
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2018 11:14
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2020 07:17
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74560

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