The East Side Freedom Library invites you to “Ragged Revolutionaries: A Book Discussion with Author Nathaniel Mills” on Thursday, November 30 @ 7:00PM.
Join us for a reading and discussion of the new book by author Nathaniel Mills, Ragged Revolutionaries: The Lumpenproletariat and African American Marxism in Depression-Era Literature. In Marxism, the concept of the lumpenproletariat refers to the masses in rags, outsiders on the edge of society, drifters and criminals, of little or no use politically. But in Ragged Revolutionaries, Nathaniel Mills argues that the lumpenproletariat was central to an overlooked yet vibrant mode of African American Marxism formulated during the Great Depression by black writers on the Communist left.
By analyzing multiple published and unpublished works from the period, Mills shows how Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Margaret Walker used the lumpenproletariat to imagine new forms of revolutionary knowledge and agency. In their writings, hobos riding the rails, criminals hustling to make ends meet, heroic black folk-outlaws, and individuals who fall out of the proletariat into the social margins all furnish material for thinking through resistance to the exploitations of capitalism, patriarchy, and Jim Crow. (http://www.umass.edu/umpress/title/ragged-revolutionaries)
“Mills writes with a rare combination of force and economy. A reader of Ragged Revolutionaries never loses the thread of the argument. Mills’s attention to the current scholarly discourse is matched by his careful work in the literary archives and his original readings of Wright, Ellison, and Walker. This is, in many ways, model scholarship.”—Adam Bradley, author of Ralph Ellison in Progress
Nathaniel Mills is assistant professor of English at the University of Minnesota.