| 
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Work with all your cloud files (Drive, Dropbox, and Slack and Gmail attachments) and documents (Google Docs, Sheets, and Notion) in one place. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Now available on the web, Mac, Windows, and as a Chrome extension!

View
 

Harlem Renaissance

This version was saved 10 years, 3 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by kevin heard
on July 13, 2011 at 5:10:54 pm
 

 

 

 

 

 Harlem Renaissance

 

 

    

 

  • Overview

 

The Harlem Renaissance was the most significant event in African American intellectual and cultural life in the twentieth century. Its most obvious manifestation was in a self-conscious literary movement, but it touched almost every component of African American creative culture in the period from World War I through the Great Depression: music, the visual arts, theater, and literature. It also affected politics, social development, and almost every phase of the African American experience in the 1920s and 1930s.

 

Langston Hughes was a prominent member of the Harlem Renaissance -- a movement during the 1920s of black writers and intellectuals who engaged in intense debate regarding the place of the African American in American life, and on the role and identity of the African-American artist. Pictured here are Langston Hughes [far left] with [left to right:] Charles S. Johnson, E. Franklin Frazier, Rudolph Fisher and Hubert T. Delaney, on a Harlem rooftop on the occasion of a party in Hughes' honor, 1924.

 

One characteristic of the Harlem Renaissance was a move toward so-called "high art" in black writing, rather than the use of folk idioms, comic writing, and vernacular that had often been considered the special realm of African-American writing up to that time. In some respects this shift mirrors the change from rural to urban life for many blacks in this period. However, several of the Harlem writers made powerful use of folk idioms such as the blues, particularly Langston Hughes (1902-67). The Harlem writers also engaged in an intense debate regarding the place of the African American in American life, and on the role and identity of the African-American artist. In this sense the Harlem Renaissance is by no means a monolithic movement with a single purpose. For example, the artistic differences between Hughes and the poet Countee Cullen (1903-46) are instructive. Cullen believed that an African-American poet should be free to write in mainstream established traditions, and need not racialize poetry. "I want to be a poet, not a Negro poet," he said, and wrote in forms such as the sonnet and became a translator of Euripides. Hughes, on the other hand, saw this attitude as a betrayal of racial identity, an aping of white European-ness, and sought in his work to accept and explore his blackness using forms and idioms that he associated with it. Both are major poets but their differences point to the relative breadth of the movement and to the development of quite different kinds of African-American writing in the Harlem Renaissance.

 

Prominent Harlem Renaissance writers include James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882-1961), the Jamaican-born Claude McKay (1889-1948), Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen (1893-1964), Jean Toomer (1894-1967), Arna Bontemps (1902-73), Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-81), and Helene Johnson (1907-95). In addition to the NEW NEGRO anthology, key works produced during the period of the renaissance or during its influence include Toomer's multigeneric CANE (1923), Hughes' WEARY'S BLUES (1926), Larsen's QUICKSAND (1928) and PASSING (1929), and Hurston's THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (1937).

 

  • Brief Summary of Movement

 

When African-Americans settled in Harlem, they brought their hopes and dreams. They also brought their history, their culture, and their talents. Soon, the neighborhood was bursting with creative energy. African-Americans were creating a new identity. Their new home gave them a chance to express themselves and to show their talents. This time period became known as the Harlem Renaissance. Renaissance means "new birth." And that's exactly what was happening in Harlem. Music and writing was the took over Harlem.  The world took notice of what was happening in Harlem. The Harlem Renaissance allowed many African Americans to experience these new works. White society first became aware of African-American writers and artists during this period and began to show appreciation for their work. Many people were introduced to African-American culture for the first time. People all over the country were enjoying African- American literature, were moved by their art, and listened to their music. The Harlem Renaissance gave a powerful voice to African-American people everywhere.

 

The Harlem Renaissance was primarily a literary and intellectual movement, the precise chronological limits of which are somewhat difficult to define. Generally the consensus among scholars has been that the Harlem Renaissance was an event of the 1920s, bounded on one side by the war and the race riots of 1919 and on the other side by the 1929 stock market crash. Some... have greatly extended or sharply limited the movement's lifespan. Abraham Chapman, for example, saw elements of the Renaissance in Claude McKay's poetry of 1917 and even in W. E. B. Du Bois's poem "Song of Smoke," which appeared in 1899.

 

  • Main Characters

Langston Hughes was the most famous poet of the time. His poems focused on the lives of working class African Americans. Other prominent Harlem Renaissance writers include James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882-1961), the Jamaican-born Claude McKay (1889-1948), Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen (1893-1964), Jean Toomer (1894-1967), Arna Bontemps (1902-73), Gwendolyn Bennett (1902-81), and Helene Johnson (1907-95). In addition to the NEW NEGRO anthology, key works produced during the period of the renaissance or during its influence include Toomer's multigeneric CANE (1923), Hughes' WEARY'S BLUES (1926), Larsen's QUICKSAND (1928) and PASSING (1929), and Hurston's THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (1937).

 

Harlem was reborn in many ways. Jazz and blues composers like Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington created lyrics and beats that reflected the excitement of the time. Actresses like Josephine Baker performed at the famous Apollo Theatre. Dancers like Billy "Bojangles" Robinson tapped down Broadway. Singers like Billie Holiday sang the blues. Musicians like Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie played their trumpets. The Harlem Renaissance was also a literary movement. Several famous writers told stories in the voices of ordinary African-Americans. Zora Neal Hurston, one of the most famous writers, wrote about black culture and the attitudes of her people. And W.E.B. DuBois
wrote about the tense relationship between blacks and whites. All of them spoke out against racism. They wrote about their dreams for racial equality.

 

                                                          Duke Ellington & Louis Armstrong                             Billie Holiday                                                Dizzy Gillespie                                             W.E.B. Dubois                                           Langston Hughes

 

 

  • Style

No common literary style, artistic style or political ideology defined the Harlem Renaissance. What united participants was their sense of taking part in a common endeavor and their commitment to giving artistic expression to the African-American experience. Some common themes existed, such as an interest in the roots of the 20th-century African-American experience in Africa and the American South, and a strong sense of racial pride and desire for social and political equality. But the most characteristic aspect of the Harlem Renaissance was the diversity of its expression.

 

  • Structure

The 1920s saw the flowering of African American culture in the arts. In music, black culture expressed itself through jazz, an improvisational and spontaneous musical form derived in part from slave songs and African spirituals. Jazz first emerged in the early 1900s in New Orleans then spread to Chicago, New York City, and elsewhere. The 1920s is often called the Jazz Age because jazz flourished and gained widespread appeal during the decade. The improvisational character of the music was often associated with the “loose” morals and relaxed social codes of the time. Among the famous jazz performers of the period were Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, and Duke Ellington.

The flowering of black literature in the Northeast, especially in Harlem in New York City, was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Black artists explored the African American perspective through poetry and novels. One of the most famous authors of the time was the poet Langston Hughes, who published “The Weary Blues,” in 1926. Harlem was the site of social activity as well as intellectual activity, as prominent and wealthy blacks hosted extravagant gatherings for Harlem Renaissance figures.

 

 

 

 

  • Theme

Numerous poems and publications sought to capture real and imagined life in Harlem. Artists and writers also turned to themes related to folk culture, religion, and the South in their works. Published in 1927, James Weldon Johnson’s God’s Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse sought to capture the manner of speaking associated with a Southern religious sermon and was accompanied with illustrations by Douglas. His illustration The Prodigal Son captures the excitement of a Harlem nightclub, while The Creation suggests an African-inspired landscape. Douglas created numerous illustrations for publications such as Opportunity and The Crisis and was one of the most prolific
artists of the period. His style reflects diverse influences, from Art Deco, to cubism, to African art.

 

 

 

 

  • Quotes

"I've always been interested in history, but they never taught Negro history in the public schools... I don't see how a history of the United States can be written honestly without including the Negro." - ÑJacob Lawrence, 1940

 

 

 

 

 

"...Our problem is to conceive, develop, establish an art era. Not white art painting black...let's bare our arms and plunge them deep through laughter, through pain, through sorrow, through hope, through disappointment, into the very depths of the souls of our people and drag forth material crude, rough, neglected. Then let's sing it, dance it, write it, paint it. Let's do the impossible. Let's create something transcendentally material, mystically objective. Earthy. Spiritually earthy. Dynamic." - Aaron Douglas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Works Cited

Ryan, Maureen. "THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE." Scholastic Action 28.9 (2005): 14. MasterFILE Premier. EBSCO. Web. 12 July 2011.

http://www.lycos.com/info/harlem-renaissance--african-americans.html?page=3 

http://www.robinurton.com/history/Harlem.htm 

http://stipteacher.net/ushistory/uscastandards/11.5/11.5.5.pdf 

http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1881089673.html 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.