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    Miss Anne in Harlem: The White Women of the Black Renaissance

    By: Carla Kaplan

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    A lively biography of a previously unstudied group, the white women of the Harlem Renaissance, by one of the nation's foremost scholars of ethnic and gender studies. The 1920s in New York was a time of jazz, dancing, and artistic explosion. And in Harlem, everything was changing. But while every other imaginable form of female identity in the Jazz Age has been portrayed - the flapper, the Gibson Girl, the bachelor girl, the Bohemian, the Twenties lesbian, the Suffragist - the full picture of the white women of black Harlem, the women collectively referred to as "Miss Anne", has never been painted. The press sexualized and sensationalized Miss Anne and her white contemporaries, often portraying her as either monstrous or insane. Blacks did not necessarily welcome her presence either, although they often sidestepped saying so publicly or in print. Miss Anne crops up in Harlem Renaissance literature as a minor character - a befuddled dilettante or overbearing patron whose presence in cabarets or political meetings spawns outbreaks of racial violence. It was one thing for white men to go "slumming" in Harlem where they could enjoy a few hours of exotic dancers and hot jazz, and then grab a cab downtown. But it was another thing altogether for white women to embrace life on West 125th Street. Epitomizing everything unrespectable at a time when social respectability meant everything, the white woman who embraced Harlem risked extraordinary disapproval, even ostracism. <I>Miss Anne in Harlem</I> is the first book to tell the vibrant story of this small band of white women - many of whom hailed from New York's highest social echelons, many of them Jewish - who became patrons of and romantic participants in the Harlem Renaissance. Many of these women were once famous - Anne Nathan Meyer, who founded Barnard College and wrote a controversial play with Zora Neale Hurston called Black Souls; Josephine Cogdell Schuyler, a liberal white Texan heiress who married George Shuyler, one of the most important figures of the Harlem Renaissance; Charlotte Mason, a socialite and philanthropist who as a patron supported Langston Hughes and Zora Neal Hurston; Nancy Cunard, who edited the most comprehensive anthology of the era; and Fannie Hurst remains famous today because of her one novel about blacks, Imitation of Life. In this formidable work, part social history, part group biography, esteemed scholar Carla Kaplan sets out to discover who Miss Anne was and understand her, often misunderstood, choices. <I>Miss Anne in Harlem</I> remaps the landscape of 1920s, writing Miss Anne back into the interracial history of the Harlem Renaissance and illustrating how she changes our perception of a historical moment.

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