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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3240 The Harlem Renaissance: Black Culture and Politics 1919-1940

40 creditsClass Size: 15

Module manager: Dr Kate Dossett
Email: k.dossett@leeds.ac.uk

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The Harlem Renaissance or New Negro Movement saw a flowering of cultural production and political activity among African Americans across the United States and abroad. This unprecedented explosion of activity in music, theatre, visual art, film, poetry and fiction, as well as in more formal political arenas found its focus in Harlem, New York City. After examining the development of black cultural traditions through Africa, the middle passage, slavery and migration to the urban North, this module focuses on the search for an 'authentic' black art in the 1920s and 1930s. What makes art more or less authentic? Who defines authenticity? How African is African American art? Can black art be authentic if it is funded by well meaning white liberals who have very particular notions of what constitutes blackness? How do class, age, gender and sexual orientation complicate and transform notions of ‘authentic blackness?’ We will try to answer some of these questions through examining the role played by key civil rights organizations (including Marcus Garvey’s black nationalist Universal Negro Improvement Association and the interracial National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in promoting black culture through their journals and newspapers. We also examine letters between white patrons and the black artists they supported, the diaries of black women novelists and the public debate about the relationship between black culture and black politics. The core of the module involves interdisciplinary analysis of a wide range of literary genres including drama, novels, poetry, memoirs and speeches. Music, visual artwork and film will also be important sources on this module. Some of the selections include: poetry by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson; Plum Bun by Jessie Fauset, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and The New Negro by Alain Locke; speeches by Marcus Garvey; blues lyrics by Ma Rainey & Billie Holiday, and the films of Oscar Micheaux. This course offers an in-depth study of one of the most important moments in African American history and highlights the central important of race in American society, both then and now.

Objectives

On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- have a detailed understanding of African American cultural and intellectual production in the first part of the twentieth century;
- demonstrate the ability to work with primary and secondary materials, and to analyze such documents with precision and insight;
- possess a sophisticated awareness of the means of historical production, and in particular be able to reflect on the process by which the past becomes history.

Skills outcomes
Further enhances Common Skills listed below:

- High-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas.
- Independence of mind and self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative.
- Ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information.
- Capacity to employ analytical and problem-solving abilities.
- Ability to engage constructively with the ideas of their peers, tutors and published sources.
- Empathy and active engagement with alternative cultural contexts.

Plus:
- Skills in interpretation and analysis of complex documentary-based material.


Syllabus

The Harlem Renaissance or New Negro Movement saw a flowering of cultural production and political activity among African Americans across the United States and abroad. This unprecedented explosion of activity in music, theatre, visual art, film, poetry and fiction, as well as in more formal political arenas found its focus in Harlem, New York City.

After examining the development of black cultural traditions through Africa, the middle passage, slavery and migration to the urban North, this module focuses on the search for an 'authentic' black art in the 1920s and 1930s. What makes art more or less authentic? Who defines authenticity? How African is African American art? Can black art be authentic if it is funded by well meaning white liberals who have very particular notions of what constitutes blackness? How do class, age, gender and sexual orientation complicate and transform notions of ‘authentic blackness?’ We will try to answer some of these questions through examining the role played by key civil rights organizations (including Marcus Garvey’s black nationalist Universal Negro Improvement Association and the interracial National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in promoting black culture through their journals and newspapers. We also examine letters between white patrons and the black artists they supported, the diaries of black women novelists and the public debate about the relationship between black culture and black politics. The core of the module involves interdisciplinary analysis of a wide range of literary genres including drama, novels, poetry, memoirs and speeches. Music, visual artwork and film will also be important sources on this module.

Some of the selections include: poetry by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson; Plum Bun by Jessie Fauset, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston and The New Negro by Alain Locke; speeches by Marcus Garvey; blues lyrics by Ma Rainey & Billie Holiday, and the films of Oscar Micheaux. This course offers an in-depth study of one of the most important moments in African American history and highlights the central important of race in American society, both then and now.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Seminar222.0044.00
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

- Exam preparation;
- researching, preparing, and writing assignments;
- undertaking set reading; and
- self-directed reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, two assessed exercises, an exercise or exercises worth 10% of module marks.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information


Coursework
Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationFormat to be determined by tutor.10.00
Essay1 x 4,000 word essay to be submitted by 12 noon on Monday of the second week of the January examination period40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Oral presentation is an 'equivalent written exercise'


Exams
Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment48 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 10/08/2020 08:40:26

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