Since its inception, one of the main preoccupations of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been black rebellion. From the early days of the Harlem Renaissance until at least J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972, the FBI has had a fascinated fear of African American literature. William J. Maxwell discusses how the FBI extensively surveilled black writers — and how, in turn, African American literature was shaped by an awareness of the dangerously intrusive eye of the FBI.
William J. Maxwell, F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghostreaders Framed African American LiteraturePrinceton University Press, 2016