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ENG568: The Harlem Renaissance

In the 1920s in Harlem, New York, there gathered a constellation of African American writers, artists, actors, singers and thinkers who changed American and world culture forever.

In the 1920s in Harlem, New York, there gathered a constellation of African American writers, artists, actors, singers and thinkers who changed American and world culture forever. Between World War I and the Great Depression, Harlem was suddenly in vogue and the center of a prolific cross pollinating of African American art and literature. Referred to now as the Harlem Renaissance, this movement stands as one of the landmarks of American literary, artistic and intellectual history. It marked the emergence of a distinctive current of modern black literature, involving a remarkable clustering of black artists who sought to give expression to the African American experience in all its ambiguous and complex range. The course will serve as an introduction to this period of pitched creativity by black writers, focusing on works such as Claude McKay's Home to Harlem, Jean Toomer's Cane, Nella Larsen's Passing and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, as well as the work of James Weldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and other writers of the era. It will also take a look at African American achievements in music and the visual arts during that period and examine the influence of the Harlem Renaissance, not only on the evolution of African American literature but upon American, Afro-Caribbean, and world art and literature as a whole.