Rhetorical Analysis of Race in Modernist Magazines

            Like feminism, the topic of race also had a large impact on modernism, and this is evident within both Coterie no. 4 published April 1st, 1920, edited by Chaman Lall and in The Wide World Magazine vol. 25 no. 146 published June 1st, 1910, edited by Andrew Pitt-Kethley. Through the entries “An African Love Song” by Charles Beadle and “Travel and Adventure on African Borderlands” by Lieut.-Colonel R. G. T. Bright, C. M. G., of the Rifle Brigade, it is evident that there was mixed reception to those with a darker skin tone or of different culture. By showing the culture of Africans, these articles embrace the different culture, but diction choices bring into question the sincerity of these praises.

            Charles Beadle describes infatuation using African related similes that can feel awkward and R. G. T. Bright describes his positive experience in Africa using degrading diction at times. As he describes a woman’s beauty, Beadle compares her body to “a young giraffe” or even “small ant-hills,” which are understandable, but makes the reader feel uneasy (Beadle 21). Comparing beauty to nature is not a new concept, but typically animals or anthills aren’t used in these similes. These objects of comparison are generally not though of as beautiful which makes the comparison awkward on top of the feeling of cultural appropriation. R. G. T. Bright, on the other hand, describes his experience in Fort Portal “memorable” and how he is thankful for the experience, but he also mentions how the ceremony was “semi-barbaric” and one fashion style as “grotesque” (Bright 169-172). While Bright does appreciate the culture and is thankful for the kindness he was offered, his more offensive word choices counteract his previous praise. The environment and culture of Africans was curiously shown and could have been sincere if some diction was chosen to be less offensive.

Works Cited

Bright, R. G. T. “Travel and Adventure on African Borderlands.” The Wide World Magazine, 1 June 1910, https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr472761/

Beadle, Charles. “An African Love Song.” Coterie, 1 April 1920, https://modjourn.org/issue/bdr456288/