Chicago Renaissance: The Midwest and Modernism


ACLS Fellowship Program


Scholl Center for American History and Culture


This book traces a literary history of Chicago from the 1893 World’s Fair to the Chicago Black Renaissance of the mid-twentieth century. In particular, it emphasizes writers and artists in Chicago who were part of the sweeping aesthetic transformations of the modernist movement. Based upon new and extensive archival research, the project considers the significance of cohorts and institutions in developing singular styles—from "Poetry" magazine and the Art Institute of Chicago to the city’s many newspapers and informal writing groups. If the city produced literary “greats” with international repute, then these writers were also stimulated by a range of lesser-known yet influential figures in Chicago, many of whom were women; that is, by editors, patrons, critics, and readers who shaped how and what was written. The book’s premise is that a distinctive modernism emerged in Chicago, and the focus is on the many people who made it.