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Topics in African American Literature: Harlem Renaissance

ENGL 281.601

The Harlem Renaissance, also known as the New Negro Movement, names a surge in cultural and artistic activity by African Americans during the 1920s and '30s, when a variety of artists and philosophers sought both to capture and to define African American culture. In this course we will study the fiction, poetry, and drama produced during these years, with a special emphasis on literary innovation. Seeking to understand this body of literature within its social and political contexts, we will begin the course by examining this period’s heated debate over the political efficacy of art during a time of legalized segregation and widespread anti-black violence. We will discuss representations of gender and sexuality, the tensions between the rural South and the urban North, the coexistence of celebrations of common black folk and fears of the black masses, and the centrality of performance in the New Negro Movement. Authors will include James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Nella Larson.


Course satisfies the Cultural Diversity in the U. S. requirement.

fulfills requirements
Elective of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major