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date: 30 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The ubiquitous presence of improvisation as a practice and a theory in the modernist period has, until relatively recently, been ignored, denied, or deemphasized, specifically in discussions of modernist literature. This chapter explores the complicated history of modernist improvisations in literary texts and posits how a renewed emphasis on improvisation in modernist studies can help us transform our understanding of twentieth century culture. A range of authors and musicians, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Rabindranath Tagore, and Louis Armstrong, among others, are considered, with a focus on the connections between race, jazz, and aesthetics.

Keywords: improvisation in literature, jazz, Literature, modernism, race, aesthetics

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