EN 8573: Locations in Harlem:
Constructing Race, Place and Identity in the Early 20th Century African-American Novel.
Donald M. Shaffer
Description: The space of Harlem became a capacious urban signifier of black literary expression and cultural lived experience in the decade of the 1920' s. The result of several decades of black migration and urban resettlement, Harlem signified at once the changing demographics of American society, as people increasingly flowed into large cities, and a new understanding of racial difference as Harlem writers imagined the place of the "New Negro" in Western modernity. This course will examine the literature of a period often referred to as "The Harlem Renaissance" or "The New Negro Movement." We will specifically examine the novels of authors whose works represent "Harlem" as a contested urban space in which the terms of racial identity and cultural "blackness" are redefined.
The requirements for the class will include weekly QHQ (Question-Hypothesis-Question) responses, three short papers (3-4 pages) and a seminar paper (15+ pages).
- Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars
- Walter White, Flight
- Nella Larson, Quicksand
- Claude McKay, Home to Harlem
- Carl Van Vechten, Nigger Heaven
- James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
- Alain Locke, The New Negro
- Langston Hughes, The Big Sea
- [Course Packet]