Spring 2017 Undergraduate English Courses: Twentieth Century
358:376 Harlem Renaissance
01 MW5 CAC 18415 WALL MU-115
Harlem, the fabled cultural capital of the black world, gave its name to the awakening among African Americans artists and intellectuals during the 1920s and 1930s, but the awakening had a global reach. With its outpouring of literature, art, and music, the renaissance defined a new age in African American cultural history. To a degree, the difference was formal; artists’ explorations of vernacular culture yielded new genres of poetry and music. Sterling Brown, Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington were among the innovators. The transformation was not only cultural. Proclaiming the advent of the “New Negro” in 1925, Alain Locke argued for a revised racial identity. Poets Claude McKay and Countee Cullen challenged old definitions, while Marita Bonner, Nella Larsen, and Zora Neale Hurston represented revised racial and gender identities in their writing. In this course, we will read a rich selection of primary texts as well as key critical responses. We will pay attention to musical and visual culture as well.
Regular attendance is required in this course; a grade penalty will be assigned for more than three absences. Students are expected to have read the assignments before coming to class and to participate in class discussions. Students will write three 5-7 page essays and upload weekly blog posts.