Topics in Literature A junior/senior levelEnglish course at Irondale High School that explores the cultural and historical context of the Harlem Renaissance, a period of American history (1919–1935) that produced remarkable achievements by Black writers, artists, musicians, and intellectuals. We seek to understand and appreciate these achievements as we investigate their influence on and contribution to mainstream American culture.
The 621 Foundation … With a generous grant, the 621 Foundation made it possible for students to view the award winning film, From These Roots. From These Roots documents the artistic, social, and political renaissance of Afro-America during the Roaring Twenties. It vividly recreates the Harlem Renaissance in the words, music and poetry of talented Afro-Americans of that time.
Harlem Renaissance • 1919 - 1936 • Jazz Age What united participants was their sense of taking part in a common endeavor and their commitment to giving artistic expression to the African American experience.
"If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter.... If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.” Langston Hughes (1928)
Themes • Racial Pride • Race Relations • African Connections • Exoticism • Experimentation • Glorification of Black Life
Music • Blues • Jazz • Dramatic Revues
Art • Identifiable style and aesthetic • Themes of African culture and Black folk life • Urban • Exotic, sensual images • Primitivism • Stereotypes challenged
Literature Writers used culture to work for goals of civil rights and equality: • advocating racial equality • advocating racial pride • describing the reality of black life in America and the struggle for racial identity. • Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey
Nightlife • Rent Parties • The Cotton Club • The Savoy