Widely regarded as the key text of the Harlem Renaissance, this landmark anthology of fiction, poetry, essays, drama, music, and illustration includes contributions by Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, James Weldon Johnson, and other luminaries.
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction. A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro -- the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness. In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke's professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man. Stewart's thought-provoking biography recreates the worlds of this illustrious, enigmatic man who, in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people, became -- in the process -- a New Negro himself.
The Making of the New Negro examines black masculinity in the period of the New Negro/Harlem Renaissance, which for many decades did not attract a lot of scholarly attention, until, in the 1990s, many scholars discovered how complex, significant, and fascinating it was. Using African American published texts, American archives and unpublished writings, and contemporaneous European discourses, this book focuses both on the canonical figures of the New Negro Movement and African American culture, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, Alain Locke, and Richard Wright, and on writers who have not received as much scholarly attention despite their significance for the movement, such as Wallace Thurman. Its perspective combines gender, sexuality, and race studies with a thorough literary analysis and historicist investigation, an approach that has not been extensively applied to analyze the New Negro Renaissance.
Of all the images to arise from the Harlem Renaissance, the most thought-provoking were those of the mulatta. For some writers, artists, and filmmakers, these images provided an alternative to the stereotypes of black womanhood and a challenge to the color line. For others, they represented key aspects of modernity and race coding central to the New Negro Movement. Due to the mulatta's frequent ability to pass for white, she represented a variety of contradictory meanings that often transcended racial, class, and gender boundaries. In this engaging narrative, Cherene Sherrard-Johnson uses the writings of Nella Larsen and Jessie Fauset as well as the work of artists like Archibald Motley and William H. Johnson to illuminate the centrality of the mulatta by examining a variety of competing arguments about race in the Harlem Renaissance and beyond.
It is no coincidence, Daphne Lamothe writes, that so many black writers and intellectuals of the first half of the twentieth century either trained formally as ethnographers or worked as amateur collectors of folklore and folk culture. In Inventing the New Negro Lamothe explores the process by which key figures such as Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Sterling Brown adapted ethnography and folklore in their narratives to create a cohesive, collective, and modern black identity. Lamothe explores how these figures assumed the roles of self-reflective translators and explicators of African American and African diasporic cultures to Western, largely white audiences. Lamothe argues that New Negro writers ultimately shifted the presuppositions of both literary modernism and modernist anthropology by making their narratives as much about ways of understanding as they were about any quest for objective knowledge. In critiquing the ethnographic framework within which they worked, they confronted the classist, racist, and cultural biases of the dominant society and challenged their readers to imagine a different set of relations between the powerful and the oppressed. Inventing the New Negro combines an intellectual history of one of the most important eras of African American letters with nuanced and original readings of seminal works of literature. It will be of interest not only to Harlem Renaissance scholars but to anyone who is interested in the intersections of culture, literature, folklore, and ethnography.
A study of the interaction of word and image in the creative work of the Harlem Renaissance.
When African American intellectuals announced the birth of the "New Negro" around the turn of the twentieth century, they were attempting through a bold act of renaming to change the way blacks were depicted and perceived in America. By challenging stereotypes of the Old Negro, and declaring that the New Negro was capable of high achievement, black writers tried to revolutionize how whites viewed blacks--and how blacks viewed themselves. Nothing less than a strategy to re-create the public face of "the race," the New Negro became a dominant figure of racial uplift between Reconstruction and World War II, as well as a central idea of the Harlem, or New Negro, Renaissance. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Gene Andrew Jarrett, The New Negro collects more than one hundred canonical and lesser-known essays published between 1892 and 1938 that examine the issues of race and representation in African American culture. These readings--by writers including W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alain Locke, Carl Van Vechten, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright--discuss the trope of the New Negro, and the milieu in which this figure existed, from almost every conceivable angle. Political essays are joined by essays on African American fiction, poetry, drama, music, painting, and sculpture. More than fascinating historical documents, these essays remain essential to the way African American identity and history are still understood today.
Standard narratives of early twentieth-century African American history credit the Great Migration of southern blacks to northern metropolises for the emergence of the New Negro, an educated, upwardly mobile sophisticate very different from his forebears. Yet this conventional history overlooks the cultural accomplishments of an earlier generation, in the black communities that flourished within southern cities immediately after Reconstruction. In this groundbreaking historical study, Gabriel A. Briggs makes the compelling case that the New Negro first emerged long before the Great Migration to the North. The New Negro in the Old South reconstructs the vibrant black community that developed in Nashville after the Civil War, demonstrating how it played a pivotal role in shaping the economic, intellectual, social, and political lives of African Americans in subsequent decades. Drawing from extensive archival research, Briggs investigates what made Nashville so unique and reveals how it served as a formative environment for major black intellectuals like Sutton Griggs and W.E.B. Du Bois. The New Negro in the Old South makes the past come alive as it vividly recounts little-remembered episodes in black history, from the migration of Colored Infantry veterans in the late 1860s to the Fisk University protests of 1925. Along the way, it gives readers a new appreciation for the sophistication, determination, and bravery of African Americans in the decades between the Civil War and the Harlem Renaissance.
The most comprehensive guide on the market to the key authors and works of the African American literary movement.
Maxwell uncovers both black literature's debt to Communism and Communism's debt to black literature, reciprocal obligations first incurred during the Harlem Renaissance.
A portrait of the vibrant world of 1920s Harlem, with writings by Langston Hughes, W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, Walter White, and more. The Harlem Renaissance was a landmark period in African American history—a time when black poets, musicians, intellectuals, civil rights activists, and others changed the social and cultural landscape in enduring ways. Its influence went far beyond the confines of uptown New York City, as it incorporated voices from the Great Migration, in which African Americans moved north in vast numbers; and elevated artists and thinkers who would become iconic figures in not only Black history, but also American history. Now considered the definitive work of the Harlem Renaissance, The New Negro features fiction, poetry, and essays that shaped the era. “A book of unusual interest and value.” —The New York Times “[Locke was] the godfather of the Harlem Renaissance.” —Publishers Weekly “Alain Locke is a critical—and complex—figure in any discussion of African-American intellectual history.” —Kirkus Reviews