I argue in the book that Langston Hughes wrote as much about religion as he did about any other topic if we broaden our understanding of what religion actually is. Because what Hughes began to offer me in my exploration was this much more broad and expansive way to think about what constitutes religious writing.
WB: I think I coined a term here when I called it a “historical analysis of religious literature” or “religious and historical analysis of literature.” I knew from the start that I was writing in between fields.
The reception of the book and how people find their way to it has been curious.
Wallace Best: This book in many ways is born from that research that I did in Chicago years ago, when I was working on as a dissertation, deep into the archives and into the issues of movement and migration and the way in which that transforms African American religious practices in Chicago and beyond. His name would come up in church documents, the papers of ministers and church workers. I found him in unexpected places in my research on Chicago and that intrigued me.
My understanding of Langston Hughes was that he would be un-churched and unconcerned about churches and unconcerned about religion.
Best sat down to talk about the book with Josef Sorett, author of , which explores African American religion and literature, including the work of Hughes.
Sorett is an associate professor of religion and African American studies at Columbia University, where he also directs the Center on African American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice.
He said that very clearly, he hated his father—for reasons that he went on to explain.
The other event was when, in 1930, he was rejected by his patron, Charlotte Mason, who had been supporting him and his art.
angston Hughes, the literary titan of the Harlem Renaissance, did not identify as a religious believer.
And yet, Hughes wrote as much about religion as he did anything else, according to Wallace D.