The Word On The Streets (eBook)
The American Language Of Vernacular Modernism
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From the hard-boiled detective stories of Dashiell Hammett to the novelsof Claude McKay,The Word on the Streets examines a group of writers whoseexperimentation with the vernacular argues for a rethinking of American modernismone that cutsacross traditional boundaries of class, race, and ethnicity.
The dawn of themodernist era witnessed a transformation of popular writing that demonstrated an experimentalpractice rooted in the language of the streets. Emerging alongside more recognized strands ofliterary modernism, the vernacular modernism these writers exhibited lays bare the aestheticexperiments inherent in American working-class and ethnic language, forging an alternativepathway for American modernist practice.
Brooks Hefner shows how writersacross a variety of popular genresfrom Gertrude Stein and William Faulkner to humorist AnitaLoos and ethnic memoirist Anzia Yezierskaemployed street slang to mount their own critique ofgenteel realism and its classist emphasis on dialect hierarchies, the result of which was a formof American experimental writing that resonated powerfully across the American culturallandscape of the 1910s and 1920s.