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Learning from the Harlem Renaissance: A Writing Workshop

ENGL 415.641
instructor(s):
R 5:30-8:10
fulfills requirements:
Creative Writing Seminar Requirement of the Creative Writing Track

The Harlem Renaissance was a period that highlighted African-American intellectual, literary and artistic brilliance and expressed African-American experience in all its variety and complexity. In this seminar, we will explore the works of writers, visual artists, composers, performers, jazz and blues musicians, as well as the personal and political context in which their works were created. Since there is much debate as to the exact dates of the movement, we will focus on the period between 1920 and 1940. We will learn how artists of the Harlem Renaissance were inspired by earlier works, and how their creations have influenced art for the remainder of the 20th Century and still today. Among others, we will familiarize ourselves with W.E.B. Dubois, Jean Tomer, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Richard Wright, Paul Robeson, Beauford Delaney, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington. In better understanding these artists and the range and impact of their work, students will gain a richer understanding of the intellectual, literary, artistic, and cultural history of the United States, as well as African Americans' integral contributions to that history. Students will research and make presentations inspired by this period. Requirements include: 100-150 pages of reading per week; bi-weekly writing responses (3-5 pgs) to readings and films, personal writing journals, individual and group presentations, research, and final essays or short stories (15 pgs).