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The Harlem Renaissance – Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay

The Harlem Renaissance
– also known as “The New Negro Renaissance”
– was driven by black thinkers, artists, and authors who were primarily based in cities in the northern U.S.
– These artists and thinkers were deeply concerned with the relationship between art and politics
– More precisely, they were interested in how art related to the broader movement to assert the humanity of Black people in a society that was built on the presumption that black people were not only inferior to white people, but they were actually sub-human
The Great Migration
– refers to the mass exodus of African-Americans from the U.S. South, starting approximately 1910
(in response to lynchings, etc.)
The Cotton Club
– a nightclub important to the Harlem Renaissance
– bluegrass/jazz was performed
– a gathering place for Harlem thinkers/artists
Harlem & Modernism
– artists of Harlem were connected to Modernism and the ideas of “making it new”
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” – Langston Hughes
– fights against the idea that black people aren’t connected to a civilization (were a major part/creator of the largest civilizations of history)
– repetition of rivers
– focus on age/history
– focus on culture/civilization
– the speaker is an active agent
The Rivers:
– Euphrates – the cradle of civilization
– Congo – African/tribal river
– Egypt – known as advanced civilization
– Mississippi – important artery of change (shipped slaves from north to south)
– Idea that the rich culture and history of the black people make them even more equipped as artists
Countee Cullen (1903-1946)
– he was a very popular poet during the Harlem Renaissance
– he was very Eurocentric (copied traditional styles) in his poetry
– he was both gay and a devout Christian
(his poems are often about two seemingly contradictory things)
“Yet Do I Marvel” – Countee Cullen
– includes characters from Greek mythology who were doomed to eternal suffering/punishment. He may have used mythology as well as the traditional sonnet form in order to show that he was educated and more philosophical (used Western style culture)
– the poem has to do with suffering, the age of question “why is there suffering if God is both all-powerful and good?” (The Problem of Evil)
– Sonnet style – connection between new, Harlem Renaissance, and the old, respected Renaissance. By writing in sonnet style, Cullen shows that a black man can write this type of poetry which was traditionally associated with white writers
– “The Marvel” – Cullen tries to reconcile a loving God with black people being given a gift that is not accepted in society (gift of art/culture)
Claude McKay
– he was born and raised in Jamaica, and then he moved to Harlem as an adult
– he often uses the topic of immigration in his works: idea of two different nations/cultures (double-consciousness)
“Harlem Dancer” – Claude McKay
– contrasts a bright, happy tone with a sordid setting (probably a nightclub)
– uses the sonnet form to show that he can inhabit the genre, change what sonnets are usually about, and change the presumption of who can or can’t write a sonnet
– idea of double consciousness is present in this poem – the narrator sees that the dancer is not really present (viewing yourself through two different lenses)

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The Harlem Renaissance - Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay
Artscolumbia

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The Harlem Renaissance
- also known as "The New Negro Renaissance" - was driven by black thinkers, artists, and authors who were primarily based in cities in the northern U.S. - These artists and thinkers were deeply concerned with the relationship between art and politics - More precisely, they were interested in how art related to th
2017-10-17 09:59:03
The Harlem Renaissance - Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
artscolumbia.org
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