Presentation on theme: "Camelia Elias American Studies. The Harlem Renaissance session 7 Harlem is vicious Modernism. Bang Clash. Vicious the way it's made, Can you stand such."— Presentation transcript:
The Harlem Renaissance session 7 Harlem is vicious Modernism. Bang Clash. Vicious the way it's made, Can you stand such beauty. So violent and transforming. - Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
historical background Reconstruction in the South ends (1877): – civil rights accorded to blacks are rolled back “Jim Crow” segregation laws passed in 1880s and 1890s “separate but equal” facilities required Context for Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Exposition Address”: – “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.”
historical background lynching: average about 100 per year in 1880s and 1890s. large numbers of black Americans migrate to northern/midwestern cities. 1910: 10% of American black population lives outside of the South 1920: 20% of American black population lives outside of the south. 1908: NAACP founded, “adopting a strategy of protest and resistance,” which gains popularity with black middle class in north. WWI: All black regiments raise hopes for social advances for African- Americans. After WWI: soldiers return home; racial tensions erupt, resulting in riots.
Harlem with the influx of black Americans from the south (esp. the Atlantic south), New York City, (esp. Harlem and Greenwich Village areas) becomes a major destination exactly when the Harlem Renaissance started is still debated; scholars offer a number of dates: 1914; 1919 (returning black troops); 1923 (publication of Cane) sometimes called the New Negro Art Movement or the New Negro Renaissance, The Harlem Renaissance refers to “the literary and artistic arm of a massive social movement.”
intellectual background an outburst of creative activity from 1920-1930 amongst African-Americans African Americans were encouraged to become “The New Negro” this term was coined by philosopher, sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke in 1925 Blacks cannot achieve social equality by emulating white ideals; that equality can be achieved only by teaching Black racial pride with an emphasis on an African cultural heritage (Locke) describe black life from a black perspective
The Harlem Renaissance according to Locke, the Harlem Renaissance transformed "social disillusionment to race pride." The Renaissance was good timing because it was between WWI and the Great Depression Black-owned magazines and newspapers flourished, freeing African Americans from the constricting influences of mainstream white society Opportunity and The Crisis (a publication of the NAACP) are the two leading magazines and newspapers that paved the way for other African American writers such as Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, etc.
W.E.B Du Bois (1868-1963) founder and editor of The Crisis, the flagship publication of NAACP helped publicize the achievements of countless African-American writers and other intellectuals advanced his conviction that literature and art could enhance the image of African Americans became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University
The Souls of Black Folk this essay collection published in 1903, had an immediate and intense impact on black artists and thinkers. it was hailed as an instant classic “When in this world a man comes forward with a thought, a deed, a vision, we ask not how does he look, but what is his message?”
contributing factors the Great Migration to northern cities between 1919 and 1926 trend in American society towards experimentation during the 1920s rise in radical Black intellectuals such as Locke, Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois – "(Harlem) is romantic in its own right. And it is hard and strong, its noise, heat, cold, cries and colours are so. And the nostalgia is violent too; the eternal radio seeping through everything day and night, indoors and out, becomes somehow the personification of restlessness, desire, brooding.“ Nancy Cunard, Harlem Review, 1933
Harlem and black identity new ways of thinking led to new ways of expressing one’s self. identity was explored through – Art – Music – Literature
aims and concerns African-Americans work together to achieve similar goals; – “the period is noteworthy as a time of pointed critical consciousness.” this critical consciousness about what it means to be a black American is seen: – in the publication of Locke’s anthology – in other collections of black writers – in the establishment of journals published by the National Urban League and the NAACP.
characteristics in music Harlem was the center of not just a literary renaissance, but also a musical and artistic renaissance the development of modern jazz is especially associated with Harlem cabarets syncopated and off-beat music
characteristics in poetry In poetry, two major trends are apparent: – experimentation with verse form that takes its inspiration from African-American musical idiom” (slave songs, the blues, jazz). – the exploration of traditional verse forms
Harlem Renaissance ideology sought to break down racial stereotypes. emphasized the beauty and significance of the American black experience. emphasized and celebrated the creative ability of black Americans. was “optimistic about the Negro’s future in America and thought integration a realistic though distant goal.”
Louis Armstrong was born in New Orleans, but influenced many musicians when he was in Chicago and New York during the 1920s and 1930s considered the King of Jazz "Louis Armstrong's station in the history of jazz is umimpeachable. If it weren't for him, there wouldn't be any of us." Dizzy Gillespie, 1971
Jelly Roll Morton Jelly Roll Morton was the first great composer and piano player of Jazz. as a teenager he worked in the whorehouses of Storyville as a piano player. he worked as a gambler, pool shark, pimp, vaudeville comedian and as a pianist. he was an important transitional figure between ragtime and jazz piano styles. he fell upon hard times after 1930 and even lost the diamond he had in his front tooth. Original Jelly Roll Rag
Bessie Smith was one of the most popular African American recording stars of the 1920s was popular with Black and White fans “Empress of Blues” I need a little sugar in my bowl
Aaron Douglas his work best exemplified the “New Negro” his work was showcased as murals on buildings and as cover art and illustrations to works in The Crisis. "...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
Jacob Lawrence “The Great Migration” child-like, primitive expression contrast in colors realism no details (cannot see their faces) lots of them are in train stations (moving to the north) same basic colors in every painting migrating to all of the big cities
…or migration to Europe Josephine Baker 1906-1975 "We can make all our dreams come true, but first we have to decide to awaken from them."
Langston Hughes 1902-1967 one of the most important figures in the Harlem Renaissance his writing was influenced by the life and art of African Americans, such as jazz he told the stories of the people in a way that reflected their culture including both their suffering and their love of laughter, language and music his self proclaimed calling was "to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America." The Negro Speaks of Rivers
Countee Cullen was raised and educated in a primarily white community, and he differed from other poets of the Harlem Renaissance like Langston Hughes in that he lacked the background to comment from personal experience on the lives of other blacks or use popular black themes in his writing. used ‘white’ forms in his poetry (sonnet, ode, ballad ‘mimics’ Keats & Shelley) modern by being anti-modern
Women and the Harlem Renaissance Ana Arnold and Ethel Ray Zora Neale Hurston Nella Larsen ….against the male background Langston Hughes, Charles S. Johnson, E. Franklin Frazier, Rudolph Fisher, & Hubert Delany.
Zora Neale Hurston I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it.... No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife. To me, bitterness is the underarm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgement of defeat.
Nella Larsen (1891-1964) Was a light skinned black with white facial features Mother was of Danish decent and father was West Indian attended Fisk University in Nashville, TN (1909-1910) continued education at University of Copenhagen (1910-1912) studied nursing at Lincoln Hospital in New York City (1912- 1915) was legally black but wanted to identify herself with both races (white and black) Quicksand (1928) Passing 1929 “Sanctuary” 1930
Quicksand (1928) how are the notions of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ thematized in the novel? discuss how the relationship between ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ is thematized. discuss Larsen’s theme of double consciousness. how does Helga Crane use her sexuality and power? discuss the notion of performing identity vs. established identity