An examination of the key figures, political movements, and black radicalisms and nationalisms that are remembered as part of the Harlem Renaissance. We will focus on the effects of WWI, the Depression, and segregation on black cultural expression.
ENGL 393: Black Manhattan 1915-1940
Instructor: Nicole Waligora-Davis
This course examines the key figures, political movements, literary, cinematic, and musical traditions that emerge during the period of intense black artistic innovation known as the Harlem Renaissance. We will study black artistic productions of the 1920s and 1930s against the twinned impulses of Negrophobia and Negrophilia. Reading the writings of W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, Alain Locke, Zora Neale Hurston Hurston, Jean Toomer, James Weldon Johnson, George Schuyler, and Richard Wright alongside black cinematic, musical (jazz and blues), and plastic art productions, we will take up the political and social implications of the “new Negro” and a distinctly African American modernist aesthetic. We will examine the relationship between these artistic productions and emerging black nationalisms, black revolutionary tendencies, black leftist politics, and radical black political philosophies. Our work will take up the political and social climate of the 1920s and 1930s, thinking through prevalent anthropological and sociological theories and visual representations of “the Negro” and “the Negro problem.” Engaging narratives of passing, black science fiction, and representations of the tragic mulatto, we will examine not only the intersections of race, gender, and class, and the significance of racial gendering, but trace how discourses on black femininity and masculinity were being strategically deployed by black Americans to petition for civil rights.