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Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture$
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W. Jason Miller

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813035338

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813035338.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture

W. Jason Miller

University Press of Florida

Langston Hughes never lived in an America where the very real threat of lynching did not exist. Lynching had a direct impact on Hughes's life and creative works. It reflects from Huges' speeches that his earliest engagement with lynching came through reading about it as a child. These fears accompanied him during his first trip by train through the South when he was a teenager. Moreover, he repeatedly responded to lynching throughout his creative works for the remainder of his life. Revisiting his published poems reveals an important current in American cultural history. Langston Hughes engaged in a lifelong national campaign against American lynching culture. In fact, Hughes addressed, referenced, responded, or alluded to lynching in nearly three dozen different poems. This book documents Hughes's campaign as a context for reading seven of his most important poetic responses to lynching, which reveal the complex interplay between culture, politics, and art.

Keywords:   Langston Hughes, America, lynching, American cultural history, national campaign, lynching culture

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