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Books  >>  History

Carla Kaplan

Miss Anne in Harlem

Carla Kaplan Miss Anne In Harlem The White Women Of The Black Renaissance
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Main description:

New York City in the Jazz Age was host to a pulsating artistic and social revolution. Uptown, an unprecedented explosion in black music, literature, dance, and art sparked the Harlem Renaissance. While the history of this African-American awakening has been widely explored, one chapter remains untold: the story of a group of women collectively dubbed "Miss Anne."

Sexualized and sensationalized in the mainstream press—portrayed as monstrous or insane—Miss Anne was sometimes derided within her chosen community of Harlem as well. While it was socially acceptable for white men to head uptown for "exotic" dancers and "hot" jazz, white women who were enthralled by life on West 125th Street took chances. Miss Anne in Harlem introduces these women—many from New York's wealthiest social echelons—who became patrons of, and romantic participants in, the Harlem Renaissance. They include Barnard College founder Annie Nathan Meyer, Texas heiress Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, British activist Nancy Cunard, philanthropist Charlotte Osgood Mason, educator Lillian E. Wood, and novelist Fannie Hurst—all women of accomplishment and renown in their day. Yet their contributions as hostesses, editors, activists, patrons, writers, friends, and lovers often went unacknowledged and have been lost to history until now.

In a vibrant blend of social history and biography, award-winning writer Carla Kaplan offers a joint portrait of six iconoclastic women who risked ostracism to follow their inclinations—and raised hot-button issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality in the bargain. Returning Miss Anne to her rightful place in the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance, Kaplan's formidable work remaps the landscape of the 1920s, alters our perception of this historical moment, and brings Miss Anne to vivid life.

Review quote:

“(Kaplan’s) extensive research has given life to a critical period in black American history-and given credit to the white women who, for various reasons, helped the Harlem Renaissance flourish.”

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“[A] revelatory book. . . . Aside from its significance as cultural history, Miss Anne in Harlem is packed with amazing life stories.”

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“[An] intriguing new book.”

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“[An] utterly fascinating and deeply insightful account. . . . This fine book takes the Misses Anne seriously and goes further, to reveal the workings of interracial networks in one of the most important cultural phenomena in American history.”

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“[R]ichly researched, thoughtful new book.”

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“A work of meticulous and far-ranging scholarship, Miss Anne in Harlem matches its characters’ shocking and subversive lives with explosive revelations and subtle insights. . . . Kaplan’s haunting narrative forces a rethinking of race and gender.”

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“An empathetic and skillful writer, Kaplan . . . shares the previously untold story of a group of notable white women who embraced black culture--and life--in Harlem in the 1920s and ‘30s. . . . Captivating.”

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“Carla Kaplan has given us and history a great gift.”

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“Carla Kaplan has taken on a dauntingly liminal topic and by force of scholarly rigor and narrative compassion rendered it central to our understanding of an era. Lush, original, and vigorously argued....”

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“Endlessly fascinating, Miss Anne in Harlem reveals a whole new perspective on the Harlem Renaissance, and Carla Kaplan delivers an essential and absorbing portrait of race and sex in 20th century America.”

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“In her clear-si

Celebrated scholar Carla Kaplan’s cultural biography, Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance, focuses on white women, collectively called “Miss Anne,” who became Harlem Renaissance insiders.
 
The 1920s in New York City was a time of freedom, experimentation, and passion—with Harlem at the epicenter. White men could go uptown to see jazz and modern dance, but women who embraced black culture too enthusiastically could be ostracized.
 
Miss Anne in Harlem focuses on six of the unconventional, free-thinking women, some from Manhattan high society, many Jewish, who crossed race lines and defied social conventions to become a part of the culture and heartbeat of Harlem.
 
Ethnic and gender studies professor Carla Kaplan brings the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance to life with vivid prose, extensive research, and period photographs.


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