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2008/09 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

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

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Dr KMDossett

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

Year running 2008/09

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- handle and interpret cultural and political texts using an interdisciplinary approach;
- use cultural and literary theories to further their understanding the development of African American culture;
- show an informed understanding of the relationship between politics and culture, race and gender in African American 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.
Skills in interpretation and analysis of complex documentary-based material.


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. Having traced the development of black cultural traditions through Africa, the middle passage, slavery and migration to the urban North, this course focuses on the search for an 'authentic' black art in the 1920s and 1930s. We will look at Black Nationalist and interracial organizations that played key roles in promoting the renaissance, as well as relationships between white patrons and individual black artists. Key debates of the renaissance, including Black Nationalism verses integration, art as propaganda, intra-race racism and the role of women will also be examined. The inter-disciplinary approach of this course is reflected in the wide range of literary genres that that will be used, including poetry, drama, novels, speeches, and journalist pieces, as well as looking at music, visual artwork and film. Some of the selections include: poetry by Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Helen Johnson 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 Films by 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
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. 356 hours.

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

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationFormat to be determined by tutor.10.00
Essay1 x 3,000 word written exercise or equivalent to be submitted by 12noon on Friday of the second week of the January examination period.20.00
Essay1 x 3,000 word written exercise or equivalent to be submitted by 12noon on Monday of the May revision week.20.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Oral presentation is an 'equivalent written exercise'

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 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: 08/11/2007


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