Undergraduate English Courses
358:376 Harlem Renaissance
01 MW8 CAC 17686 KERNAN MU-115
The Harlem Renaissance and the African Diaspora
The goal of this course is twofold. First, the course provides students with both a broad overview of seminal texts--written by figures like Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, George Schuyler, and W.E.B. DuBois--that are constitutive of the canon of the Harlem Renaissance and to situate those texts in their contemporary literary, political, and international contexts. Second, the course provides an account of how the literary production of the Harlem Renaissance laid the groundwork for contemporary conceptions and articulations of the African Diaspora around the globe. The course will address topics and wuestions including: the contemporary politics, aesthetics, and material conditions of production that surrounded the creation of Harlem Renaissance texts; the triple demand of the Harlem Renaissance Author—to create "more sophisticated" African American literary works, to create "authentic black texts," and to answer to communal demands for literature in the service of racial uplift; how did "The Worldwide Negro Vogue" inform the wellsprings of the Harlem Renaissance; how did the Soviet Union's 1926 "Solution to the Race Problem" inform the great works of thus particular period?; what features, other than time period, distinguish Harlem Renaissance texts from other early 20th century literary works written in English?; the extent to which Harlem Renaissance prose and poetry were informed by earl iterations of pan-Africanism and pan-Americanism; the professed internationalism of the so-called New Negro movement and the consequences of such aspirations, the early efforts made by Harlem Renaissance writers to bridge both trans-Atlantic and inter-American gaps to build bridges between communities of color the world over; the means, modes, and motivations for both the exportation and importation of Harlem Renaissance texts in translation; how, and the degree to which, Harlem Renaissance authors' desires to foment a nationalist literature actually led to an international, and at times hegemonic, conception of "blackness"; how the differing receptions of Harlem Renaissance texts and authors abroad laid the groundwork for the Négritude movement in poetry and politics, the self professed indebtedness of Négritude's "Big Three"—Césaire, Damas, and Senghor—to the literary production of the Harlem Renaissance; and how this indebtedness informed the cultural aspirations and affinities of post-colonial African nations. In addition to regular attendance and in-class participation, students will be expected to complete short reading quizzes and two take-home exams.