Archive for December, 2009
Happy new year to all Classics Circuit Participants!
Because of the holiday, we will be extending the sign up for the February 2010 Harlem Renaissance tour until the morning of January 2, 2010. There are numerous options to choose from, including poets (such as Langston Hughes) and fiction (like Zora Neale Hurston and James Weldon Johnson).
We’ll send out assignments this weekend, so make sure you sign up soon!
This week we’ll also be posting some recaps of the Victorian tours we hosted in November and December. I sure had fun following Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell, and I hope you did too!
This week, Gaskell visits visits the final four stops on her tour..
Elizabeth Gaskell blog stops for Monday, December 21st through Thursday, December 24th:
December 21, 2009 – Shelf Love Review: North and South
December 22, 2009 – Medieval Bookworm Review: Ruth
December 23, 2009 – A Book Lover Review: Cranford
December 24, 2009 – Michelle’s Masterful Musings Review: North and South
Some people have expressed worry that they don’t know much about the options for this tour: the Harlem Renaissance is not something that they are incredibly familiar with. To tell you the truth, we aren’t experts either.
However, we have taken some time to pull together what we feel is a rather comprehensive list of writers, philosophers, and artists, that we think would make this tour fun. Although we haven’t read most of these works, we’ve done research through Wikipedia and other websites, found quotes from readers on what they liked about each author’s works, and tried to cover a variety of territory. We have list for the beginning of the movement, the poets, the fiction, and other options for the tour.
If you’d like to go a different direction for this Classic Circuit Tour, you can try something other than reading one of the author’s books. Here are some ideas to help you, from reading general information about the movement to studying about the visual artists and musical artists behind it.
Although Zora Neale Hurston is probably the most recognized novelist to come out of Harlem, she began her writing career with folktale studies, and her novels reflect that. Jessie Redmon Fauset and Nella Larsen wrote novels focusing on middle class women. Wallace Thurman ‘s The Blacker the Berry looks at discrimination among black people, and Walter White‘s novel looks at the discrimination in the South.
Harlem Renaissance authors wrote in every genre. Randolph Fisher wrote a Harlem-based mystery novel. George Schuyler wrote dystopian science fiction. Arna Bontemps wrote historical fiction. Claude McKay‘s novels captured the “gritty” side of life in Harlem, from alcohol and murder, and Richard Bruce Nugent was the African-American to write about open homosexuals, focusing on life in Harlem in the 1920s.
In short, in addition to the lesser-known short story and drama writers, there are plenty of fiction options to choose from in the Harlem Renaissance!
Once African-Americans had an audience through periodicals and the community in Harlem, poetry flowered. It’s important to note that most of the individuals we consider “poets of the Harlem Renaissance” also wrote fiction (novels and short stores) and nonfiction or anthologies. The Harlem Renaissance created all sorts of writers.
Langston Hughes is probably the first poet people think of, since he was an active writer and social activist during the Renaissance. His novels, stories, and plays are also notable. Claude McKay was already a published poet when he moved to Harlem, and he also contributed some novels to the movement. Jean Toomer‘s poetic novel Cane (1923) was also a milestone for African-American literature in the 1920s.
Countee Cullen and Arna Bontemps were also noted poets, the later a great friend of Langston Hughes. Both also wrote children’s literature after the Harlem Renaissance ended. A few less well-known poets and writers also made a significant contribution.
The Harlem Renaissance began because African Americans were thinking about race relations in America.
W.E.B. Du Bois wrote some nonfiction before, during, and after the Renaissance that helped shape some of the political thought, such as his The Souls of Black Folk. In the early years of the century, James Weldon Johnson‘s poetry became a “national anthem” for African-Americans, and his semi-autobiographical The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man, was a landmark, although it was published anonymously because of Johnson’s race; it’s telling that just 15 years later he could republish it fully claiming his identity.
Add Charles Chesnutt‘s early novels and political leadership with the NAACP, some less well-known social activists and writers, and the 1925 anthology of African-American writing edited by Alain Locke, and the Harlem Renaissance was well underway.
February in the United States means celebrating Black History Month. What better way to celebrate this very vital part of our society by paying homage to an extremely pivotal historical event in our cultural history: The Harlem Renaissance?
Just what is the Harlem Renaissance, you ask? If you are like me, you faintly remember discussing it briefly in high school English class, forced to read a few poems but not understanding the significance or the finer points of the discussion. Thankfully, the Classics Circuit is here to enlighten you about what you (and I) might have failed to learn in high school. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, Gaskell visits five more bloggers with some more reviews.
Elizabeth Gaskell blog stops for Monday, December 14th through Friday, December 18th:
December 14, 2009 – Rebecca Reads Review: Mary Barton
December 15, 2009 – Staircase Wit Review: Cranford
December 16, 2009 – A Reader’s Respite Review: A Dark Night’s Work
December 17, 2009 – A Striped Armchair Review: Ruth
December 18, 2009 – Notes From the North Review: Cranford