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The Great War and the Culture of the New Negro$
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Mark Whalan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032061

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032061.001.0001

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“Over There”

“Over There”

(p.47) 3 “Over There”
The Great War and the Culture of the New Negro

Mark Whalan

University Press of Florida

This chapter assesses the international character which is associated and related to the war of the African American cultural production. This chapter begins with a discussion on the widespread motif of the acquisition of the French language by the African American troops. Despite of the widespread landholding of France in Africa and other parts of the world, writers such as W. E. B. Du Bios and Addie Hutton posited the French language as a language of democracy and a medium for introducing egalitarian racial politics into the United States. Other writers meanwhile saw the French language as a sophisticated, modern, and progressive identity devoid of collective effort for racial advancement. The chapter tackles the interracial encounters American troops had in the battle field. These are narrated in several stories. The chapter then looks closely at the manner with which writers fantasized the humanistic, universal values of heroism and comradeship that could be established on denationalized and desegregated terrain. The final section of the chapter examines the representations of French and American soldiers particularly those which pertained to their sexual encounters. The final section of the chapter examines how these representations became an especially charged site for the mediation of much broader explorations of agency, national identity, and interracial relations.

Keywords:   African American, war, African American troops, French language, language of democracy, egalitarian racial politics, interracial encounters

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