Course overview

The Harlem Renaissance was a flowering of Black American culture running from around the period 1919-1939 in Harlem and other Black communities. Its influence continues today and is global. Whilst all aspects of the arts and intellectual activity flourished during this period, we will focus on its literature and the debates that arose from it. How were Black people to portray themselves after centuries of misrepresentation? What purpose was literature to fulfil for Black communities? How much were the writings of the Harlem Renaissance to be evaluated as a separate movement? How much were they to be integrated with the literature of the dominant White culture? Together, we will be discussing these and other aspects of this fascinating and radical movement.

Course description

In this course, we will be considering one of the most exciting and powerful movements in American artistic life: the Harlem Renaissance. This was a period of intense creativity around the period 1919-1939, in which Black artists sought to give voice to their identity, and create fully authentic representations of themselves. We will be reflecting on portrayals of defiance and protest, from Alice Dunbar Nelson’s early poem I Sit and Sew and Walter F. White’s novel The Fire in the Flint. The great thinkers and theorists of the Harlem Renaissance will be examined: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes and George Schuyler. We will be discussing drama from playwrights Georgia Douglas Johnson and Eulalie Spence, and extracts from Zora Neale Hurston’s great novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

The tutor, Clare Jackson, recently gave a Members’ Lecture on ‘The Literature of the Harlem Renaissance’ which generated enthusiastic requests for a further course. She is delighted by the prospect of sharing and exchanging ideas with you. Anyone with any interest in literature is warmly welcome to come along and find out more about this radically creative, searching and influential movement. The Harlem Renaissance’s reach is global. We will be finding out how it started, and grew.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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