Thursday, March 28th– Book History Colloquium: “Amiable with Big Teeth: Discovering Claude McKay’s Long Lost Novel”

Speakers: Jean-Christophe Cloutier and Brent Edwards

Location: 523 Butler Library, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

In 2009, the complete typescript of Amiable with Big Teeth, a previously unknown novel by Claude McKay written in 1941, was discovered in Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  In anticipation of the novel’s publication, this talk covers the story of its unexpected discovery, and recounts the years of archival research that led to its successful authentication. In addition, it will contextualize the novel’s composition, and consider its implications for our understanding of McKay and the “aftermath” of the Harlem Renaissance. The bound typescript’s location in the papers of Samuel Roth, the man who notoriously published unauthorized excerpts of Joyce’s Ulysses in the late 1920s, also suggestively links McKay’s fate to that of high modernism.

Jean-Christophe Cloutier is a graduate student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he also works as an archival intern since 2009. His dissertation, “Archival Vagabonds: Twentieth-Century American Fiction and the Archive in Novelistic Practice”, explores the interplay between the archival and aesthetic sensibilities of twentieth-century novelists.
Brent Hayes Edwards is a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia. He is the author of the prize-winning study The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Harvard UP, 2003), which was awarded the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association and the Gilbert Chinard prize of the Society for French Historical Studies.

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