Saint Louis University

Latimer, left, and Toomer. Submitted photo

The Women's Studies Brown Bag Lunch Series will host an event 12:30-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in room 144 of McGannon Hall.

Emily Lutenski, Ph.D., will present "More than a Wife: Margery Latimer and the 'New American Race.'"

Everyone is welcome to attend and participants are invited to bring a lunch. Refreshments will be provided

About the talk
On Oct. 30, 1931, Margery Latimer, a white modernist writer whose novels We Are Incredible (1928) and This is My Body (1930) had been published to positive reviews, married Jean Toomer, whose Cane (1923) is widely considered to have ushered in the Harlem Renaissance.

Announcing their marriage, the African-American newspaper The Chicago Defender triumphantly described it as an "experiment," to "smash [the] color line to test social whims." The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., however, took a different tack, describing Latimer, who hailed from nearby Portage, as a rising literary star who was marrying a "psychologist and essayist." Nowhere does The Capital Times overtly discuss race; nowhere does it mention Cane.

These are two of a long series of contradictory representations of the Latimer-Toomer marriage. The couple became the center of nationwide media attention that luridly focused on miscegenation and intensified less than one year later when Latimer died in childbirth.