An essay by Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) Resident Fellow Mary Grabar, “Black and American: George Schuyler’s Battle against Black Separatism,” has just been published in a book collection titled Literature and the Conservative Ideal (Lexington Books).
The volume features an introductory essay about the decline in graduate literary study by Mark Bauerlein, and essays about such literary giants as Shakespeare, Thomas Carlyle, Evelyn Waugh, and Henry James; influential critics such as F.R. Leavis and the “New Critics”; and conservative writers outside the literary canon, such as Pittsburgh Courier columnist George Schuyler (1895-1977) and counterrevolutionary novelists, such as George Walker, author of the 1799 novel The Vagabond. Contributors include Thomas L. Jeffers, Thomas W. Stanford III, Todd H.J. Pettigrew, Barton Swaim, James Seaton, D. Marcel DeCoste, and Mark Zunac, who is also editor.
In an interview published on Grabar’s Dissident Prof website, Zunac, an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, said he was prompted to undertake the project to counter the current tendency to use literature ideologically, in a “reductive identification as either a product or a condemnation of social injustice.” Literature and the Conservative Ideal attempts to restore literature to its purpose of privileging “free inquiry, artistic beauty, and moral clarity,” and thereby complementing “efforts aimed at preserving individual freedom and liberty”—the hallmarks of Western civilization.
Grabar’s essay focuses on Schuyler’s 1930s serialized fiction, published posthumously in a volume titled Black Empire, and his efforts, through his fiction and journalism, to stake a claim for African Americans in full American citizenship—politically and culturally; she discusses his resistance to various black separatist efforts from the 1920s to the 1960s in this effort.
Grabar began her research on George Schuyler, who grew up in Syracuse, in July 2011 when she was a Bakwin Research Fellow at the AHI. She wrote about that experience for the Weekly Standard. She is under contract with Northern Illinois University Press for her book titled “George S. Schuyler: America’s First Black Conservative Intellectual,” due out in 2017.