Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Fine Clothes to the Jew By Langston Hughes I, II, and III of III “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” By Zora Neale Hurston.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Fine Clothes to the Jew By Langston Hughes I, II, and III of III “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” By Zora Neale Hurston."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fine Clothes to the Jew By Langston Hughes I, II, and III of III “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” By Zora Neale Hurston

2 Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927) 1) The volume, today generally ranked among Hughes’s finest, was a dramatic failure, but was not without its champions. 2)The volume’s components all speak to what Hughes sees as constitutive elements of Negro culture and art in America (blues, Afro-Christianity, the labor and exploitation of the Black proletariat, etc.), and is notably bracketed by blues sequences. 3)True Negro Art? 4)Proletarian Poetry? 5)Race-Proud Poetry? 6)Documentary Poetry? 7)Invention of a New Genre?

3 The Critical Reception of Fine Clothes to the Jew: Controversy, Common Speech, and Catastrophe 1)The publication of his Fine Clothes to the Jew in the opening months of 1927 had resulted in a spectacular failure, as the vast majority of literary critics on both sides of the color line excoriated the volume. 2) On February 5, William M. Kelly, leading the charge from black critics, and denounced the volume as “about 100 pages of trash” that reeked “of the gutter and the sewer.” Hughes’ depiction of such taboo themes as miscegenation, prostitution, and black despondency—as well as his employment of so-called black dialect in verse forms patterned after those of the traditional blues—pandered to what Kelly saw as a white taste for the sensational.

4 The Critical reception of Fine Clothes to the Jew: The Birth of a New Verse Form 1) The volume, today, is generally ranked among Hughes’s finest, and was not without its champions. 2) Hughes’s use of “common speech” was several times compared to that of Paul Laurence Dunbar (one of Hughes’s acknowledged influences) and to that of Wordsworth and Coleridge. 3)Howard Mumford Jones, inaugurating the present-day critical chorus, credited Hughes with nothing less than the contribution of a “new verse form in the English Language.”

5 Langston Hughes, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” Nation 122 (June 23, 1926): ) Socio-economic factors do indeed play an important, and at times determining, role in the artistic production of the American Negro. 2) However, these very same socio-economic factors have, over time, given rise to (and perpetuated) a nearly irreducible cultural difference between whites and blacks that cannot be trumped by class alone. 3) The fact that middle- and upper-class Negroes both “ape” American culture and are ashamed of the artistic and cultural production of the black masses bares witness to this irreducible difference. Moreover, it is this inferiority complex that constitutes the “racial mountain” that must be climbed if the Negro artist is to discover himself and his people. 4) The cultural production of the black masses—which also constitutes their social fabric—has been and is being mined (with the advent of the New Negro) to produce art that has been and will be acclaimed internationally as separate and distinct from so-called American Art both because it is produced by Negroes who have resisted “American standardization.” 5) The cultural production of the black masses is indeed rooted in “the inherent expressions” of Negroes in America and in the “eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul,” but this “inherent” or “eternal” quality is not a function of racial essentialism. Rather, it is the product of historical circumstance—the manifestation of revolt against the oppressiveness of the white world. 6) Thus, “true Negro art” is (and will be) the product of Negro artists who are not ashamed of their race’s individuality, and who recognize that “true negro art”—art mined from the cultural production of the Negro masses— is governed by what might be labeled proto-black-nationalist criterion that need not and is not concerned with the criterion that governs the artistic production of “American Standardization.”

6 Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927) 1) The volume, today generally ranked among Hughes’s finest, was a dramatic failure, but was not without its champions. 2)The volume’s components all speak to what Hughes sees as constitutive elements of Negro culture and art in America (blues, Afro-Christianity, the labor and exploitation of the Black proletariat, etc.), and is notably bracketed by blues sequences. 3)True Negro Art? 4)Proletarian Poetry? 5)Race-Proud Poetry? 6)Documentary Poetry? 7)Invention of a New Genre?

7 The Blues According to Langston Hughes Oh, the sun is so hot, and the day is so doggone long Yes, the sun is so hot, and the day is so doggone long And that is the reason I’m singin’ this doggone song

8 Blues

9 “Hey!” Talking Points

10 “Po’ Boy Blues” Talking Points

11 “Homesick Blues” Talking Points

12 Railroad Avenue

13 “Brass Spittoons”: Proletarian Poetry? Talking Points

14 “Ruby Brown” Talking Points

15 “Elevator Boy” Talking Points

16 Glory! Hallelujah!

17 “Prayer” and “Prayer Meeting” Talking Points

18 “Feet o’ Jesus” Talking Points

19 Beal Street Love

20 “Beale Street Love” Talking Points

21 “Cora” Talking Points

22 “Black Gal” Talking Points

23 From the Georgia Roads

24 “Mulatto” Talking Points

25 “Laughers”

26 And Blues

27 “Lament Over Love” Talking Points

28 “Listen Here Blues” Talking Points

29 “Hey! Hey!” Talking Points

30 “Feet o’ Jesus” Talking Points 1)What is the rhetorical effect produced by the persona’s use of the phrase “ma little Jesus”? How does it make us rethink the first stanza? 2)What do you make of the persona’s “shifting” height vis-à- vis Jesus? 3)Is Jesus infantilized in this poem? If so, to what effect? 4)How would you describe the irony of the last line? Is it multiple? If so, how do these multiple ironies complement one another?

31 Beal Street Love

32 Beale Street, Memphis In the early 1900s, Beale Street was filled with clubs, restaurants and shops, many of them owned by African-Americans. In 1889, NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells was a co-owner and editor of an anti-segregationist paper called Free Speech based on Beale. Beale Street Baptist Church, Tennessee's oldest surviving African American Church edifice built in 1864, was also important in the early civil rights movement in Memphis. In 1905, Mayor Thornton was looking for a music teacher for his Knights of Pythias Band and called Tuskegee Institute to talk to his friend, Booker T. Washington, who recommended a trumpet player in Clarksdale, Mississippi, named W. C. Handy. Mayor Thornton contacted Mr. Handy, and Memphis became the home of the famous musician who created the "Blues on Beale Street". Mayor Thornton and his three sons also played in Handy's band. In 1909, W. C. Handy wrote "Mr. Crump" as a campaign song for political machine leader E. H. Crump. The song was later renamed "The Memphis Blues". Handy also wrote a song called "Beale Street Blues" in 1916 which influenced the change of the street's name from Beale Avenue to Beale Street. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon and other blues and jazz legends played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. As a young man, B.B. King was billed as "the Beale Street Blues Boy". On December 15, 1977, Beale Street was officially declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress.

33 Evil Woman Talking Points 1) What seems to turn the “Good gal” in the first stanza into the “Evil Woman” invoked in the title? 2) How would you describe the persona’s character? Would you set-him up with a friend? 3) Given the persona’s character, what do you make of his rationale for sending this woman “on back”? 4) Where does hate lie in this poem? Solely with the persona’s hate? From elsewhere? 5) What is the rhetorical effect of “that which is not said” in this poem?

34 “Beale Street Love” Talking Points 1)Here, and elsewhere, Hughes often disguises the personae who inhabit his poetry only to reveal their identity in the poem’s final line. What do you make of the phrase “Says Clorinda”? Does it identify the speaker? 2)If Clorinda is the speaker of the poem, how would you situate her self-hatred vis-à-vis both the perennial blues theme of a “no good woman” and the poem’s title? 3)How does time work in this poem, especially in regard to the perona’s use of verb tense? 4)What is the rhetorical effect of Hughes’s use of punctuation in this poem?

35 “Black Gal” Talking Points 1)Describe the dilemma faced by the poem’s persona. 2)What do you make of the persona’s decision to reserve all her anger for the “yaller gal” and none for Albert Johnson? 3)Does the persona seems to be making good choices here? What effect is produced by the phrase “brownskin boy”? Does it play a role in the persona’s decision to take Albert back? 4)To what intra-group prejudice might this poem be said to allude? What do the totality of the persona’s machinations suggest about this prejudice?

36 From the Georgia Roads

37 Jazz Band Taking Points 1) How is this Jazz Band being positioned in this poem, especially given the fact that it is presented in a sequence heavily concerned with themes of race- mixing and sexual exploitation? 2) What is the rhetorical effect produced by the phrase “Even if you do come from Georgia”? 3) How many speakers inhabit this poem? What are the seven languages? 4) What do you make of Hughes’s decision to end the poem by deploying “black dialect”? Are we being introduced to the speaker at this moment in the poem? If so, how does that recast his previous exhortations to the jazz band? 5) How would you situate the polemic of this poem vis- a-vis those of black internationalism?

38 “Mulatto” Talking Points 1)What do you make of the phrase, “one of the pillars of the temple fell”? 2) How many voices in habit this poem? Do the voices presented in italics belong to a single figure or to more than one? 3) What confusion is produced by Hughes’s use of italics and what rhetorical purposes does it serve? 4) What do you make of this sin- song quality of this poem? (Consider the impact of the interjections on this impact. What are they?) 5)) How might this poem be said to function as “documentary poetry”?

39 And Blues

40 Bound North Blues Talking Points 1) Of what populace might this figure be said to be representative? 2)How might we compare and contrast the persona who inhabits this poem to that of the one who inhabits “Homesick Blues?” 3)What do you make of Hughes’s decision to return to circulation and themes migrancy at the end of his collection? 4)How would this poem “mean differently” if it were placed at the beginning of the collection? Or, how does the informed reader view the persona’s optimism after having read the collection that precedes it? 5)What do you make of the increasing repetition of the word “road”? How do roads generally function as symbols? Are they functioning that way here?

41 INFLAMATORY DISCUSSION! Talking Points 1)Does the central question not beg itself? Support! And Attack! 2)Consider the lengthy partnership between African-American community and Jewish community organizations ( ).

42 Characteristics of Negro Expression (1934) Zora Neale Hurston

43 Zora Neale Hurston ( ) A Brief Early Biography In 1918, Hurston began undergraduate studies at Howard University, where she became one of the earliest initiates of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and co-founded The Hilltop, the University's student newspaper.[5 Hurston left Howard in 1924 and in 1925 was offered a scholarship to Barnard College where she was the college's sole black student. Hurston received her B.A. in anthropology in 1927, when she was 36. While she was at Barnard, she conducted ethnographic research with noted anthropologist Franz Boas of Columbia University. She also worked with Ruth Benedict as well as fellow anthropology student Margaret Mead. After graduating from Barnard, Hurston spent two years as a graduate student in anthropology at Columbia University When Hurston arrived in New York City in 1925, the Harlem Renaissance was at its peak, and she soon became one of the writers at its center. Shortly before she entered Barnard, Hurston's short story “Spunk” was selected for The New Negro, a landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, and essays focusing on African and African American art and literature.[In 1926, a group of young black writers including Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, calling themselves the Niggerati, produced a literary magazine called Fire!! that featured many of the young artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance. [edit] 1930s By the mid-1930s, Hurston had published several short stories and the critically acclaimed Mules and Men (1935), a groundbreaking work of "literary anthropology" documenting African American folklore. In 1930, she also collaborated with Langston Hughes on Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts, a play that was never finished, although it was published posthumously in In 1937, Hurston was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to conduct ethnographic research in Jamaica and Haiti. Tell My Horse (1938) documents her account of her fieldwork studying African rituals in Jamaica and voudon rituals in Haiti. Hurston also translated her anthropological work into the performing arts, and her folk revue, The Great Day premiered at the John Golden Theatre in New York in John McWhorter has called Hurston "America's favorite black conservative." She was a Republican who was generally sympathetic to the Old Right and a fan of Booker T. Washington's self-help politics. She disagreed with the philosophies (including Communism and the New Deal) supported by many of her colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance, such as Langston Hughes, who was in the 1930s a supporter of the Soviet Union and praised it in several of his poems. Despite much common ground with the Old Right in domestic and foreign policy, Hurston was not a social conservative. Her writings show skepticism toward traditional religion and affinity for feminist individualism. In this respect, her views were similar to two libertarian novelists who were her contemporaries, Rose Wilder Lane and Isabel Paterson

44 Selected Bibliography Color Struck (1925) in Opportunity MagazineColor Struck Sweat (1926) How It Feels to Be Colored Me (1928) Hoodoo in America (1931) in The Journal of American FolkloreThe Journal of American Folklore The Gilded Six-Bits (1933) Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934) Mules and Men (1935) Tell My Horse (1937) Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)Their Eyes Were Watching God Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939) Dust Tracks on a Road (1942) Seraph on the Suwanee (1948) I Love Myself When I Am Laughing...and Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive: A Zora Neale Hurston Reader (edited by Alice Walker; introduction by Mary Helen Washington) (1979) Sanctified Church (1981) Spunk: Selected Stories (1985)

45 The New Negro, The Worldwide Negro Vogue, and Black Folk Culture Leo Frobenius Zora Neale Hurston Franz Boas

46 Drama: The Negro’s universal mimicry… 1)It is not so much an essential feature of the Negro (in terms of racial essence), bur rather the fact the every phase of his or her lived life is lived “highly dramatized states”—where joy and despair manifest in the extreme--that makes “drama” a quality that permeates the Negro’s entire self. 2)The “poise” for drama in the Negro community makes every moment an occasion for adornment, and every aspect of life is characterized by performance. 3)Hurston asserts (making recourse to an ill-defined primitivism) that the black primitive community uses language in a way fundamentally different from the way it is used by white communities. Rather than having words for detached ideas, the “primitive” Negro is drawn towards the use of simile and metaphor, preferring descriptive words that are close-fitting to the use of the object. The drama of the Negro--manifest in metaphor and simile—therefore it tends towards a “hieroglyphic” metaphorical language: chair becomes “sitting chair” 4)Why do you think Hurston labels metaphor “primitive?” 5)How does Hurston situate primitive man?

47 Will to Adorn 1)The will to adorn is a notable characteristic in Negro expression that stems from his belief (which Hurston, again, qualifies as primitive) that there can never be enough, let alone too much beauty. 2)This desire to decorate the decorative may appear grotesque (in its mixture of elements), but that assignation only holds true for those outside the community. For Hurston, the Negro alone is qualified to be a critic of his aesthetic production, and whatever he does of his own volition, he embellishes. 3)Although the Negro has contributed to African words to the English language, he has softened and toned down hardly consonanted words and made “new force words” out of “feeble elements.” 4)His greatest contribution tot he language, though, is to be found in: his use of metaphor and simile- ex) Syndicating-gossiping, sobbing hearted, You sho is propaganda his use of the double descriptive:-ex) high-tall, low down, chop-axe his use of verbal nous-ex) I wouldn’t friend with her And his creation of nouns from verbs-ex) She won’t take a listen How does Hurston position the Occident vis-à-vis the Negro and to what effect?

48 Angularity 1)Simply put, whereas European art strives for a certain seamlessness, Negro Expression has a penchant for angularity. This has something to do with Negro expression valuing multiple angles (and, as a consequence) perspectives whereas European art—as Hurston seems to intimate in line with Enlightenment aesthetics--privileges a singular vantage point for the ideal contemplation of art. 2) What are the implications (ethical and aesthetic) of this claim?

49 Asymmetry 1)Again, in contradistinction to traditional European aesthetic ideals that place a premium on symmetry. 2)Somewhat paradoxically, Negro dance and music values asymmetry and rhythm both. This is made possible because, in Negro expression, rhythm is segmented. It has a symmetry on its own but not in relation to the whole assembled by it. 3)The poem’s asymmetry lies in both its rhythm, and the asymmetrical depiction of a “good girl” with “low down ways.” 4)How does Hurston’s counter-positioning of Negro expression lend credence or detract from her observations?

50 Dancing 1)Negro dancing does not attempt to express itself fully (as does white dancing), but rather seeks to draw the performer into the dance itself by means of dynamic suggestion, one begging of the audience an interpretive reaction. 2)This plea, or reaching, out allows dance to move beyond the confines of the stage and to make the spectator part of the process, begging him to complete what is suggested. 3)No art can ever express all variations conceivable, but in its dialogical nature Negro dancing engenders more possible variations, is less exhaustible of meaning, and therefore superior to white dance. 4)What script do you think Hurston is trying to re-write here?

51 Negro Folklore Talking Points 1)Trickster Tale and Tricksters: Jack, Br’er Rabbit, the devil, the Signifying Monkey, Eshu, Shine, Stack-o-Lee….. 2)What do you make of Hurston’s claim that Negro folklore is still “in the making?” How des this reinvent the traditional notion of folklore?

52 Cultural Heroes Talking Points 1)Primitivism v.s. African Retentions: How is Hurston deploying the term primitive here? 2)What is the rhetorical impact of Hurston’s phrasing in this sentence: “The Negro is not Christian really.” 3)What is the rhetorical impact of juxtaposing the displacement of Judeo-Christian ethic in a paragraph that seeks to illuminate the importance of “cultural heroes”? 4)If the rabbit is indeed a cultural hero? How is Hurston redefining the constitutive make-up of the hero as she/he is traditionally conceived? What are the implications of this redefinition for a potential societal re-organization?

53 Originality 1)Originality has less to do with original sources (which are impossible to pin-down), and more with a penchant for the modification of existing ideas. 2)Given that the Negro lives in the midst of white civilization, he must modify everything for his own particular use and needs. His very existence demands constant refashioning (or originality as a mode of being) 3)However, this refashioning although prompted by the Negro’s circumstance, can inspire refashioning on the other side of the color line. 4)How does this observation undermine Enlightenment assumptions about race and art?

54 Imitation 1)The Negro is world famous as a mimic, but that should not be understood as a quality on unoriginality. 2)All successful art, in some sense, is mimicry in that it must correspond to human experience. 3)Hurston points to an ephemeral quality amongst Negroes that affords them an intrinsic love of mimicry. 4)It is merely bourgeoisie self- hatred that decries the mimicry of “niggerisms,” Southern culture, or stage conventions. 5)Consider the unspoken here: how does Hurston’s point inform an understanding of the imitation of blacks by whites (blackface, etc.)

55 Absence of the Concept of Privacy 1)The Negro is accustomed to communal life wherein privacy is not only a foreclosed possibility, but a potential danger. 2)Openness allows the community to deal with its discord (a more natural occurring phenomenon than accord). 3)Lovemaking and fighting—since they are topics suitable fot bragging in the Negro community— are like everything else that demands acclaim, arts forms. 4)Does this point seem to fit on this essay? If not, why include it?

56 The Jook 1)The “Jook” is the most important musical space in America, for in it blues and jazz were born 2)The sexuality of the “Jook” has infused itself into the sensuality of Negro music. 3)Negro theatre (as built up by Negroes) is based on “Jook situations,” even though some of the upper class Negro population is embarrassed of this fact and tries to efface it. In fact, it is the only form of Negro theatre. 4)White performers are continually trying to recreate the Jook and continually failing. Likewise, Negro music taken out of the Jook for white audiences does not constitue authentic Negro performance. 5)How does Hurston’s description set Negro theater apart from other forms? What are the implications of the value, here, placed on audience?

57 Dialect 1)The issue of dialect is a contentious one, and the Negro community posses more than anybody else. 2)Moreover, not all members of a dialect- community adhere to the rules of that given dialect, and it has become anathema to blanketly associate Negroes with dialect. 3)Nevertheless, certain rules are operative, definable, and appear in black art.

Download ppt "Fine Clothes to the Jew By Langston Hughes I, II, and III of III “The Characteristics of Negro Expression” By Zora Neale Hurston."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google