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Harlem Renaissance  Harlem Renaissance (HR) is the name given to the period from the end of World War I and through the middle of the 1930s Depression,

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Presentation on theme: "Harlem Renaissance  Harlem Renaissance (HR) is the name given to the period from the end of World War I and through the middle of the 1930s Depression,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Harlem Renaissance  Harlem Renaissance (HR) is the name given to the period from the end of World War I and through the middle of the 1930s Depression, during which a group of talented African- American writers produced a sizable body of literature in the four prominent genres of poetry, fiction, drama, and essay.

2  Common themes: alienation, marginality, the use of folk material, the use of the blues tradition, the problems of writing for an elite audience.  HR was more than just a literary movement: it included racial consciousness, "the back to Africa" movement led by Marcus Garvey, racial integration, the explosion of music particularly jazz, spirituals and blues, painting, dramatic revues, and others.

3 Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

4 Langston Hughes  James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri.  His parents divorced when he was a small child, and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband, eventually settling in Cleveland, Ohio.  It was in Lincoln, Illinois, that Hughes began writing poetry.

5  Following graduation, he spent a year in Mexico and a year at Columbia University. During these years, he held odd jobs as an assistant cook, launderer, and a busboy, and traveled to Africa and Europe working as a seaman.  In November 1924, he moved to Washington, D.C. Hughes first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926.

6  Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties.Paul Lawrence DunbarCarl SandburgWalt Whitman  He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in Montage of a Dream Deferred.

7  His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.  Unlike other notable black poets of the period-- Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen--Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself. Claude McKayJean ToomerCountee Cullen

8  Langston Hughes died of complications from prostate cancer in May 22, 1967, in New York.  In his memory, his residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York City, has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street was renamed "Langston Hughes Place."

9 Significant Form, Style, or Artistic Conventions  1. His debt to Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, and Paul Laurence Dunbar.Walt Whitman Paul Laurence Dunbar  2. His enthusiasm for the language and songs of the rural folk and lower-class urban, "street" Negro. As Bontemps once wrote, "No one loved Negroes as Langston Hughes did."Bontemps  3. His capacity for improvisation and original rhythms. His use of jazz, blues, be-bop, gospel, Harlem slang.

10  Langston Hughes is often referred to as the Poet Laureate or Shakespeare of the Negro Race. He was also one of the chief artists responsible for the flowering of African American literature, known as the Harlem Renaissance.  The poetry of Langston Hughes is representative of a period that saw cultural growth and expansion in consciousness, and the increase of self-identity issues of the Black or Negro culture in the United States. The idea of searching for one's cultural roots was a dominant factor in the search for identify and meaning in the Harlem Renaissance.

11 The Cosmic Speaker in Langston Hughes' "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"  The speaker in Langston Hughes' "The Negro Speaks of River" delivers his claims in a cosmic voice that extends throughout all time and space. This voice includes all peoples.

12  Hughes' ancestry included three major race groups; he lived as an African-American (Hughes referred to himself as "colored" or "Negro," because he was writing before the term "African-American" was accepted widely); his parents were African- Americans. But Hughes' interests far exceeded racial limitations. He embraced all of life.

13  He suffered the color-line, when racism was strong in early twentieth-century America, but he rose above racial hatred and felt love and compassion for all races. His acceptance is especially evident in "The Negro Speaks of River" spoken by a cosmic voice that includes and unites all people.

14  The poem begins, "I've known rivers: / I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the / flow of human blood in human veins." The river symbolizes the linkage of all human life from the earliest time to the present. He continues naming rivers that represent the history of Western culture.

15  From the Euphrates to the Mississippi, the history of mankind from Biblical times to the period of the American Civil War is represented.  The Euphrates is considered the cradle of Western civilization. The speaker of the poem claims to have "bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young." Thus the cosmic voice begins at the origin of civilization.

16  The speaker then moves westward to the Congo claiming, "I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep." Here he focuses on the African experience, as he does in the following line, "I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it." Neither claim limits the voice to a black voice, because the white and yellow races have lived along the Congo and were among the slaves employed by the ancient Egyptians in constructing the pyramids.

17  Hughes' cosmic voice unites the races in one cosmic person. He highlights the American experience claiming, "I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln / went down to New Orleans...." Lincoln reminds us of the process of emancipation of slaves, and the Mississippi River symbolizes the human blood of all races.

18  The speaker repeats "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." Because the soul is the life force of the body, the stream of energy, the person who recognizes that his soul has grown deep recognizes his own identity.  In this poem the river symbolizes the link of mankind as the blood in the body is believed to be linked because we are all children of God, and thus we have the common ancestry originating with Adam and Eve, the symbolical first parents.

19  The cosmic speaker portrays selfhood and recognizes his roots, his identity as a child of not only one set of biological parents but as a child of the cosmos (or of God), and he is linked with all humanity, all races, all creeds for all time through the depth of his own soul.

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