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Helga Crane's Copenhagen: Denmark, Colonialism, and Transnational Identity in Nella Larsen's Quicksand

Helga Crane's Copenhagen: Denmark, Colonialism, and Transnational Identity in Nella Larsen's... TRANSNATIONAL IDENTITY & NELLA LARSEN / 229 Danish-American) and her self-identification with her Danish ethnic background are elements that Larsen scholarship has tended either to dismiss or gloss over. Indeed, several key Larsen scholars (Thadious Davis, Cheryl Wall, and Charles Larson) have either doubted or denied that Larsen ever traveled to Denmark at all, let alone lived there for several years. As a result, her journeys to Denmark have sometimes been read as fantasy projections. Given the challenges of recovering surviving records and Larsen’s own tendency towards self-mythologizing, this approach has not been entirely unjustified. But the impulse to suppress Larsen’s Danish family ties and her direct experiences in Scandinavia may also have resulted from a desire (whether conscious or not) to secure her status within a feminist, African-American literary canon, a status that Larsen’s own identification with her “Nordic” side and Danish roots threatens to destabilize. Efforts to expand Larsen’s canonical Harlem Renaissance identity in transnational directions are now changing the field of Larsen scholarship. George Hutchinson’s extensive scholarship on Larsen’s Danish connections (most recently in his 2006 work In Search of Nella Larsen) have been especially transformative. In the 1990s, Hutchinson discovered ship’s records that prove http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Helga Crane's Copenhagen: Denmark, Colonialism, and Transnational Identity in Nella Larsen's Quicksand

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2008 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-60-3-228
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

TRANSNATIONAL IDENTITY & NELLA LARSEN / 229 Danish-American) and her self-identification with her Danish ethnic background are elements that Larsen scholarship has tended either to dismiss or gloss over. Indeed, several key Larsen scholars (Thadious Davis, Cheryl Wall, and Charles Larson) have either doubted or denied that Larsen ever traveled to Denmark at all, let alone lived there for several years. As a result, her journeys to Denmark have sometimes been read as fantasy projections. Given the challenges of recovering surviving records and Larsen’s own tendency towards self-mythologizing, this approach has not been entirely unjustified. But the impulse to suppress Larsen’s Danish family ties and her direct experiences in Scandinavia may also have resulted from a desire (whether conscious or not) to secure her status within a feminist, African-American literary canon, a status that Larsen’s own identification with her “Nordic” side and Danish roots threatens to destabilize. Efforts to expand Larsen’s canonical Harlem Renaissance identity in transnational directions are now changing the field of Larsen scholarship. George Hutchinson’s extensive scholarship on Larsen’s Danish connections (most recently in his 2006 work In Search of Nella Larsen) have been especially transformative. In the 1990s, Hutchinson discovered ship’s records that prove

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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