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A Literary Investigation: The Harlem Renaissance

INQUIRY QUESTION: how do the ideas and works of the Harlem Renaissance relate to American Modernism?

Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence

Migration Series by Jacob Lawrence

This painting portrays the violence and disorder that existed between black and white people in the North after the Great Migration. This painting is part of a collection of 60 paintings that covered the journey of African Americans during the Great Migration. This painting is a representation of one of the largest race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois. It relates to Modernism for its theme
of alienation. Clearly, the degree and area of this alienation was focused on different ideas for both groups, but their was a feeling of being rejected by what they formerly trusted. The black community put their faith into the south, and modernists could not rely on past traditions.

moma.org
Harlem by Langston Hughes

Harlem by Langston Hughes

In this poem about postponing a dream, Langston Hughes perspective is that the American Dream is unattainable. In the poem he describes the different life cycles of dreams, from the beginning to the end when it can be either too sweet, rot away, dry up or explode. This suggests that since the American Dream was deferred to make time for all of the war and loss and technological advancements, that the dream changed. People are no longer pining after the same ideals or ways of life as before, because the present is so drastically different. Everyone during this time period felt distant from the quintessential American Dream, figures of the Harlem Renaissance and Modernists. The common thread between these social movements were that they were both lost on what dream to focus on. If the goal is no longer what it used to be, what is it now? Both groups were finding their own answers to that question.

poetryfoundation.org
How It Feels to be a Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston

How It Feels to be a Colored Me by Zora Neale Hurston

in the essay, "How It Feels to be a Colored Me" by Zora Neale Hurston, she describes and compares her experience as Zora at different places. She was a black woman, and other times she was just herself. Overall, she felt a sense of subversion from the qualities and effects of racism, and instead saw her position as a bold black woman as an opportunity and duty to succeed, both for herself and her ancestors. Where modernism subverted traditions and social norms, she subverted against this concept of racism.

xroads.virginia.edu
I, Too by Langston Hughes

I, Too by Langston Hughes

The poem titled I, Too by Langston Hughes communicates the message that African Americans can fight oppression and prevail through self empowerment. He describes himself as "the darker brother" who is alienated by white people sent to eat alone. During this time, he becomes the person to eventually have pride in himself, and admits at last that they will see his greatness, too. Modernists also faced the internal struggle of feeling rejected, a rejection that was more abstract, but both groups felt misplaced, and both would find their rightful place in America.

poetryfoundation.org
JAZZ A film by Ken Burns

JAZZ A film by Ken Burns

Jazz music was a prime aspect of American Modernism for its effect on racial lines. The exciting rhythms of jazz attracted all Americans, black and white. This racial unity that music has created, was a subversion of the social norm of racism. Jazz being one of the highlights of the Harlem Renaissance signifies a strong tie to Modernism. Both movements were for dancing the night away and leaving behind old traditions that were holding them back from true reform and improvement. Now both groups were creating a new and appropriate society.

pbs.org
Works Cited

Works Cited

accounts.google.com
Karen Masongsong p.6 Harlem Renaissance Inquiry Rubric

Karen Masongsong p.6 Harlem Renaissance Inquiry Rubric

accounts.google.com