American Studies: The Harlem Renaissance

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American Studies: The Harlem Renaissance
Humanities Course
Course CodeHREN
Years of Operation2002-2005
Sites OfferedCAR, JHU, SAR
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Course Description

From the CTY Course Catalog (2002):

Among the many cultural developments of the 20th century, perhaps none was more profound than the explosion of creative activity among African Americans in Harlem throughout the 1920s and beyond.

In this course, students examine the historical factors and social conditions that spawned the literary, artistic, and musical endeavors of various African Americans whose creativity defined the Harlem Renaissance. They consider the works of writers and artists including Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, and Loïs Mailou Jones as both a reaction to and a product of the broader African-American experience in the United States. From poet Langston Hughes' "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" to sculptor Sargent Johnson's Forever Free, students contemplate how such pieces sought to celebrate African heritage while at the same time inspire the rebirth of a race. Additionally, students examine the Harlem Renaissance as it related to the social commentary of African-American intellectuals of the period, such as W.E.B. Du Bois' condemnation of social injustice, Marcus Garvey's Back to Africa movement, and Alain Locke's concept of the New Negro.

This class asks students to draw sophisticated connections between historical events and cultural representations. Emphasis is placed on critical reading and writing, as well as developing advanced research skills.