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World War I and Southern Modernism$
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David A. Davis

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781496815415

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496815415.001.0001

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The Army of The Disillusioned

The Army of The Disillusioned

Black Southerners, World War I, and Civil Rights

(p.81) 3 The Army of The Disillusioned
World War I and Southern Modernism
David A. Davis
University Press of Mississippi

African American writers portrayed the sacrifice of black soldiers in combat and the persecution of black veterans in the South to make a literary case for civil rights. The modernist trope of the black veteran expresses the disillusionment of post-war blackness, where the imaginary boundaries of region and nation were levelled to reveal a globalized racial inequality that normalized southern segregation on a transatlantic scale. Novels about black southerners in World War I juxtapose the experience of soldiers in the proximal zones of modernity, where progressive social values creates relatively egalitarian social structures, with the distal South, where segregation demeans black veterans. This chapter explains the socio-political issues facing African Americans during World War I and then describes how three African American novelists, Victor Daly, Walter White, and Claude McKay, represented black soldiers in Europe and in the South.

Keywords:   African American modernism, Black soldiers, Victor Daly, Walter White, Claude McKay

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