Jean-Christophe Cloutier was a graduate student at Columbia University in 2009 when he discovered a lost satiric novel by Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay. Cloutier, who worked with experts to authenticate the novel, AMIABLE WITH BIG TEETH: A NOVEL OF THE LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN THE COMMUNISTS AND POOR BLACK SHEEP OF HARLEM, will speak about the book, McKay, the Harlem Renaissance, and his own detective-like process of authentication as part of UNCW English Department’s Buckner Lecture Series. The talk is at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 in the Cameron Hall Auditorium (Room 105), with a reception and sale of McKay’s books to follow.
Cloutier, now an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of the dissertation “Archival Vagabonds: 20TH Century American Fiction and Archives in Novelistic Practice,” and he is the editor of McKay’s AMIABLE WITH BIG TEETH, which is to be published shortly as Cloutier travels to archives around the country, gathering further evidence. He has written articles in Modernism/Modernity, Cinema Journal, Novel, and other journals, and he has published numerous translations and archival studies.
Claude McKay (1890-1948) was a Jamaican-born writer and political activist who inspired a generation of African-American writers, including Langston Hughes, with searing poems such as “If We Must Die” and poetry collections including “Harlem Shadows,” as well as the novels BANJO (1929), BANANA BOTTOM (1933) and HARLEM GLORY (published posthumously). The newly recovered AMIABLE was written in 1941, in the second half of the Harlem Renaissance, when McKay and other writers turned their focus to international issues such as Communism.
Harvard University scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. told the New York Times that AMIABLE WITH BIG TEETH is “a major discovery” that “dramatically expands the canon of novels written by Harlem Renaissance writers.” Scholars call Cloutier’s discovery the most significant archival finding since Gates’ 1982 discovery of OUR NIG: SKETCHES OF THE LIFE OF A FREE BLACK, an 1859 slave narrative by Harriet O. Wilson.
Cloutier’s talk is co-sponsored by UNC Wilmington’s English Department and The Buckner Lecture Series, which was established by Charles F. Green III to bring distinguished guest presenters to UNC Wilmington and to honor his friend, Katherine K. Buckner.
For further information, please contact the chair of the UNCW Buckner committee, Dr. Janet Ellerby (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the department’s website at www.uncw.edu/english/ .
Media contacts: Tara Romanella (email@example.com ) and Janine Iamunno (firstname.lastname@example.org)