Fall 2020 Undergraduate English Courses

358:376 Harlem Renaissance

01  MW7   CAC   05679    KERNAN   MU-204 

This course provides students with both exposure to some of the seminal texts of the Harlem Renaissance and with the interpretive tools needed to situate those texts in their respective contemporary contexts: literary, political, and international. We will consider issues like: How did the contemporary politics and material conditions of production that surrounded the creation of Harlem Renaissance texts inform their aesthetics? How did Africa-American authors to the “triple demand” of Harlem Renaissance authorship: 

a) to create “more sophisticated” African American Literary works

b) to create “authentic black texts”

c) to create texts that negotiated the demands of representing an heterogeneous community with the goal of forging, in and through the act of writing, a new black identity.

As part and parcel to paying special heed to the manner in which our texts answer to these political, aesthetic, person, and communal dictates, we will consider questions like: How did early 20th century “Worldwide Negro Vogue” inform the well-springs of the Harlem Renaissance? What is the significance of so-called white-patronage in the Harlem Renaissance? How did the Comintern’s 1926 “Solution to the Race Problem” inform the great works of thus particular period? What features distinguish Harlem Renaissance texts from other early 20th century literary works written in English at the time? Students are expected to actively engage in class discussion, take regular reading quizzes, write one short midterm paper, and one longer final paper.