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Modernism III: The Harlem Renaissance “The New Negro Movement” 1900s-1940s.

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Presentation on theme: "Modernism III: The Harlem Renaissance “The New Negro Movement” 1900s-1940s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Modernism III: The Harlem Renaissance “The New Negro Movement” 1900s-1940s

2 Learning Objectives To identify the major authors and literary contributors of the Harlem Renaissance. To recognize the major literary characteristics of the period. To understand how the politics of a time period can influence its literature. To identify major vocabulary needed to analyze the literature of the period.

3 Definition The time period between the end of World War I and the Great Depression or the beginning of World War II, centered in Harlem, New York, that saw a tremendous amount of work in all forms—poetry, fiction, drama, art, music, and essays— produced by a diversely talented population of African Americans.

4 Problems in the Renaissance Mimicry of affluent whites rather than an adherence to cultural values. Dependence upon white publishing houses and patrons for art and literature. Some black entertainers, like Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club, performed for exclusively white audiences. Ignoring the economic future of the movement, hit hard by Great Depression.

5 The New Negro The idea of a black person who, through intellect and production of literature, art, and music, could challenge the pervading racism and stereotypes to promote progressive or socialist politics, and racial and social integration. Many of these ideas led to the development of the Civil Rights Movement after World War II.

6 Characteristics of the Writing Traditional forms paired with radical ideas Influence of Jazz, blues, and call-and- response techniques Elements of folklore and myth Elements of the slave narrative Influence of European realism Lyricism

7 The Artwork of the Time Created with the purpose of “uplifting” the race As an opportunity to “prove” humanity and demand equality

8 Jazz A form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of blacks with European music. Improvisation, syncopated rhythms, blues notes Characterized as the product of egalitarian creativity, interaction and collaboration, placing equal value on the contributions of composer and performer

9 Jazz Greats Louis Armstrong Duke Ellington Count Basie Bessie Smith

10 The Great Migration Harlem was once a district for the white, affluent businessmen of New York. Influx of immigrants in the early 1900s cause “white flight” Young southern, rural blacks moved to cities like New York, Chicago, and Detroit for job opportunities for unskilled labor in factories and to escape Jim Crow laws.

11 The Great Migration The migration of southern Blacks to the north changed the image of the African- American from rural, undereducated peasants to one of urban, cosmopolitan sophistication. This new identity led to a greater social consciousness, and African- Americans became players on the world stage, expanding intellectual and social contacts internationally.

12 The Apollo Theater Began as a burlesque hall, eventually started “amateur nights” where performers could compete for cash prizes. Unlike the Cotton Club, the Apollo’s audience was primarily black.

13 Common Themes & Topics Twoness Marginality Alienation Identity The influence of slavery The results of institutional racism Problems inherent in writing towards a white audience Urban life Primitivism

14 The Impact of the Harlem Renaissance The name, more than the place, became synonymous with new vitality, Black urbanity, and Black militancy. It became a racial focal point for Blacks the world over; it remained for a time a race capital. It stood for urban pluralism; Alain Locke wrote: "The peasant, the student, the businessman, the professional man, artist, poet, musician, adventurer and worker, preacher and criminal, exploiter and social outcast, each group has come with its own special motives... But their greatest experience has been the finding of one another." The complexity of the urban setting was important for Blacks to truly appreciate the variety of Black life. The race consciousness required that shared experience.

15 The Impact of the Harlem Renaissance It encouraged the new appreciation of folk roots and culture. Peasant folk materials and spirituals provided a rich source for racial imagination and it freed the Blacks from the establishment of past condition. Harlem Renaissance was imprisoned by its innocence. The Harlem intellectuals, while proclaiming a new race consciousness, became mimics of Whites, wearing clothes and using manners of sophisticated Whites, earning the epithets from the very people they were supposed to be championing. Harlem Renaissance could not overcome the overwhelming White presence in commerce which defined art and culture. What was needed was a rejection of White values; they had to see Whites, without awe of love or awe of hate, and themselves truly, without myth or fantasy, in order that they could be themselves in life and art. Blacks, unlike other immigrants, had no immediate past and history and culture to celebrate. But the positive implications of American nativity have never been fully appreciated by them. It seems too simple: the Afro-American's history and culture is American, more completely so than most others in the country.

16 Three Different Political Ideals: A.Accomodationism –To trust the paternalism of the southern whites and accept the fact of white supremacy. Socially separate. “Earn” rights through indispensability. –Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” B. Progression –To move and grow as a people through education and cultural advancement. –DuBois’s idea of the “Talented Tenth” C. Activism –To gain power and protection as a people through activism and organization. –Garvey’s idea of “Back to Africa”

17 The Scottsboro Boys (1931) March 25, 1931 – Nine black young men on a train are accused of raping two white women, sentenced to death in hurried trial. 3 complaints of mistrial, 3 more guilty verdicts. All white juries. Defended by the NAACP and the American Communist Party. Stopped the practice of all-white juries in the South. The landmark set of legal cases from this incident deal with racism and a basic American right: the Right to a fair trial.

18 The Old Way: Booker T. Washington Born a slave Worked with powerful white patrons to raise money to build schools for blacks throughout America. Believed education and cooperation with whites was the only way to combat racism and the effects of slavery. Critics like W.E.B. DuBois called for stronger activist efforts. Famous autobiography: Up From Slavery

19 W.E.B. DuBois Grandfather of the Renaissance Founder of the NAACP Editor of the journal Crisis Author of The Souls of Black Folk (1903) –Recognition of “twoness” or “double consciousness”: a divided awareness of one’s identity in African Americans.

20 Marcus Garvey: Back to Africa A controvesial Jamaican publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism and Pan- Africanism movements. The intent of the movement was for those of African ancestry to "redeem" Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it W.E.B. Du Bois said that he was “without doubt, the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America and in the world. He is either a lunatic or a traitor.”

21 Alain Locke The New Negro Famous anthology of black writers put together in Stresses the importance of urbanization for blacks Experimentation and Romanticism in a new era Harlem as center of this movement Importance of the African American in the future development of Africa. Forward-looking Importance of education

22 Jean Toomer Born to mixed race parents, Toomer often resisted racial identification and insisted on being known as simply “American.” Acted as principal of an all- black school in Georgia. His high-modern novel Cane is considered a seminal work in the Harlem Renaissance. The novel features vignettes about the experiences of African Americans across the country.

23 Langston Hughes One of the earliest innovators of “Jazz Poetry” Hughes tried to depict the "low-life" in their art, that is, the real lives of blacks in the lower social-economic strata. He criticized the divisions and prejudices based on skin color within the black community Stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self- hate that united people of African descent and Africa across the globe and encouraged pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic.

24 Claude McKay Jamaican-American poet and writer. One of the most militant voices of the HR. His poem “If We Must Die” was one of the first important works of the period.

25 “If We Must Die” (1919) Claude McKay If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must die, O let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! O kinsmen we must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! In 1919 there was a wave of race riots consisting mainly of white assaults on black neighborhoods in a dozen American cities. Jamaican-born writer Claude McKay responded by writing this sonnet, urging his comrades to fight back. It had a powerful impact, then and later. For what reason does McKay say even a doomed resistance is worth while?

26 Zora Neale Hurston "Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.""Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can anyone deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me." Folklorist, writer, anthropologistFolklorist, writer, anthropologist Moved to Eatonville, FL at 3, father was mayor.Moved to Eatonville, FL at 3, father was mayor. Died in obscurity, but received renewed recognition from the critical work of Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.Died in obscurity, but received renewed recognition from the critical work of Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple.

27 Countee Cullen Cullen was being touted and bred to become a major crossover literary figure. He was a black man with considerable academic training who could, in effect, write "white" verse-ballads, sonnets, quatrains, and the like--much in the manner of Keats and the British Romantics. He was certainly not the first Negro to attempt to write such verse, but only two other black American poets before Cullen could be taken so seriously as self- consciously considered and proficient poets: Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar. “Yet Do I Marvel”, etc.

28 Josephine Baker Popular vaudville and Folies Bergeres chorus dancer and film star. Worked as a spy for France against the Nazis in WWII. Leader in the Civil Rights Movement

29 James Van Der Zee Photographer of the wealthy African Americans in the Harlem Renaissance

30 Harlem

31

32 The group, photographed at a party held for Langston Hughes, includes (from left to right): Poet Langston Hughes, sociologist Charles Spurgeon Johnson, historian E. Franklin Frazier, doctor and author Rudolph Fisher, and legislator Hubert Delaney.

33 Terms to know Marginality Call-and-Response techniques Niggerati Modernism Folklore The New Negro Post-colonialism Jazz Poetry


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