Hip Figures: A Literary History of the Democratic Party

Series: Post*45

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Hip Figures dramatically alters our understanding of the postwar American novel by showing how it mobilized fantasies of black style on behalf of the Democratic Party. Fascinated by jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll, novelists such as Norman Mailer, Ralph Ellison, John Updike, and Joan Didion turned to hip culture to negotiate the voter realignments then reshaping national politics. Figuratively transporting white professionals and managers into the skins of African Americans, these novelists and many others insisted on their own importance to the ambitions of a party dependent on coalition-building but not fully committed to integration. Arbiters of hip for readers who weren't, they effectively branded and marketed the liberalism of their moment-and ours.