“Slightly Known Territory”: Renaissance Admixture and the So-Called Van Vechten School

Scott Herring

in Queering the Underworld

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780226327907
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226327921 | DOI:
“Slightly Known Territory”: Renaissance Admixture and the So-Called Van Vechten School

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This chapter explores Carl Van Vechten's queer slumming. Prior to his controversial participation in the Harlem (New Negro) Renaissance, the transatlantic bohemian's “weird six-foot presence seemed to be everywhere.” Throughout the 1890s, he affiliated with the Chicago regionalists. In prewar Greenwich Village, he frequented bohemian salons. At the dawn of the Jazz Age, he visited with Parisian expatriates. An extremely mobile modern, Van Vechten was also lauded as a New York dilettante whose wide-ranging literary connections were matched by substantial literary achievements. In the months preceding Nigger Heaven's publication, he had become something of a Harlem fixture. Van Vechten and his second wife, actress Fania Marinoff, hosted open-invitation interracial parties, and he frequented Harlem cabarets on an almost nightly basis. He also judged the annual Hamilton Ball Lodge drag shows.

Keywords: Carl Van Vechten; queer slumming; Harlem; Renaissance; Nigger Heaven; Fania Marinoff

Chapter.  18479 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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