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Changing the Exchange

Keywords: "Langston Hughes , African American , poetry , American Literature , Rock and Roll , race relations , rosicrucian order amorc , jazz , music , black , civil rights "

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This paper examines a selection of Langston Hughes’ poetry related to past events placed in a cultural context examining issues surrounding isolation, race relations, and “othering” in the literary realm within the duality of worlds in which he dwelled―the literary and the musical.Langston Hughes remains a modernist voice of change and influence whose reputation as an author of literary merit has been enhanced by his consistent incorporation of musical influences, bringing the concept of “othering” into the literary realm as he crossed a multitude of barriers in the process. New Historicism, as a rich method of critical interpretation, provides a mechanism by which to analyze his intricate literary collage methodology that invokes an indictment of racial injustice and the attendant isolation. This sophisticated bricolage incorporates historical realities as the found materials. These provide chronological frames of reference which preserve one artist’s ontological journey as his writings are immortalized in the amber that is both historical fact and artistic commentary.In exchanging preconceived notions with alternate viewpoints, Hughes invites us to deconstruct both his text and meaning, all within an historical framework. Hughes sought to make sense of his world through his art in order to effect change, and his findings and methods remain relevant today. This process does not allow for the separation of the text from its creator or its audience preserving the integrity of his views within the natural context of his historical time and place. Hughes created his own category―heretofore not fully recognized―which in this paper is termed, “Rhythm on Layered Literature” (ROLL). This is arguably the precursor of “Rhythm and Poetry” (RAP), which substitutes the spoken word for the written. This acronym also approximates the other half of “Rock and Roll,” furthering the notion that the author managed to use united themes for divisive realities. Hughes’ modernist messages are cogent today due to the fluidity of his style


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