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The Worlds of Langston HughesModernism and Translation in the Americas$
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Vera M. Kutzinski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801451157

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801451157.001.0001

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Nomad Heart

Nomad Heart

Heterolingual Autobiography

(p.15) Chapter One Nomad Heart
The Worlds of Langston Hughes

Vera M. Kutzinski

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines how Langston Hughes writes an autobiography as a literary genre. There were substantial pressures on a black autobiographer in the United States to construct himself as a subject that would represent African Americans in just the right ways: as valued citizens and loyal patriots. Hughes faced this issue not just in The Big Sea (1940) and I Wonder As I Wander (1956). This chapter analyzes the link between heterolingualism and Hughes' autobiographies. To this end, it weaves together texts and a host of intertexts, including the Spanish translations of Hughes' autobiographies, around scenes of translation. It shows how the historical exigencies impinging on Hughes' acts of self-writing are intertwined with broader theoretical concerns about autobiography as a literary genre. The chapter also considers the discourses of race, gender, and nationality as well as black internationalism and international modernism that Hughes takes to task in his autobiographies.

Keywords:   modernism, Langston Hughes, autobiography, African Americans, The Big Sea, I Wonder As I Wander, heterolingualism, translation, race, black internationalism

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