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Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism$
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James Zeigler

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781496802385

Published to University Press of Mississippi: January 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496802385.001.0001

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date: 22 May 2019

Writing Congress: The Appeal of C. L. R. James’s American Studies

Writing Congress: The Appeal of C. L. R. James’s American Studies

(p.97) Chapter Three Writing Congress: The Appeal of C. L. R. James’s American Studies
Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism

James Zeigler

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines Marxist C.L.R. James’s writings on Melville with a focus on the book he composed while detained on Ellis Island under the McCarran-Walter Act’s classification of alien subversives. Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways is James’s unorthodox petition for citizenship: a demonstration of his U.S. cultural literary through an expert rendering of American literature that also conveys his critique of the anticommunist ethos of American nationalism during the Cold War. The chapter addresses the controversy surrounding the conclusion of Mariners, in which James shifts from literary criticism to an autobiography of his detention. New insight into the debate over whether the prison memoir lapses into Red-baiting follows from interpretations of an overlooked letter James wrote to George Padmore in defense of Mariners, the autobiographical conclusion’s unexpectedly positive representation of classic liberalism, and the quite different reading of Moby-Dick in James’s earlier, unfinished manuscript “Notes on American Civilization.”

Keywords:   C.L.R. James, The McCarran-Walter Act, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, Anticommunism, Marxism

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