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Nexus: The Harlem Renaissance


Nexus interdisciplinary contents of The Harlem Renaissance
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SUMMARY OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE volume of NEXUS

The HARLEM RENAISSANCE interdisciplinary NEXUS book explores the nexus (web of connections) between Harlem Renaissance literature and art, theater, music and history (see a SAMPLES below).

Blues and jazz are linked to the blues-inspired poems of Langston Hughes and the jazz-inspired murals of painter Aaron Douglas.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa examines the roles blues and jazz play in Hughes's poetry in LANGSTON HUGHES + POETRY = BLUES. Yusef Komunyakaa also penned the chapter HUGHES'S INFLUENCE ON LATER POETS.


THE GREAT MIGRATION

THE GREAT MIGRATION chapter, which covers black history from the end of Reconstruction to WWII, is the historical backbone of this volume. The short stories, plays, poetry and paintings allude to it and explore its after effects; the blues and jazz reached the North because of it.


THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE and FICTION CONTESTS

  1. Students learn the roles of the Urban League and NAACP in launching and steering the Harlem Renaissance.

  2. The chapter WHEN HARLEM WAS HEAVEN examines the arts and literary contests sponsored by the Urban League and NAACP, the role of The SIX, rent parties, etc.

  3. The chapter UP FROM BAM - STORIES OF THE MIGRATION compares migration-related short stories by Zora Neale Hurston and Dorothy West - stories that tied for second-place in an Opportunity magazine fiction contest.

HARLEM RENAISSANCE POETRY

We explore Harlem Renaissance poetry by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Arna Bontempes, and Helene Johnson that responds to W.E.B. Du Bois's notion of "double-consciousness [African/American]," with links to contemporary life.

HARLEM RENAISSANCE THEATER

The chapter on black theater covers the evolution of African-American theater through the Harlem Renaissance, and examines sections of Langston Hughes's comedy Little Ham.

HARLEM RENAISSANCE VISUAL ART

  1. Students learn to read the metaphorical murals of Aaron Douglas, which are also windows into African-American history.

  2. Our exploration of Aaron Douglas murals focuses on the artist's use of visual metaphor, irony, contrast, and symbolism; thus, this chapter reinforces literary figurative language interpretation skills through visual media.

HARLEM RENAISSANCE MUSIC - BLUES and JAZZ

  1. In the chapters ROOTS OF THE BLUES, DAT FEEL-GOOD ACHE - DA BLUES, and the NEXUS blues supplements, we explore the evolution of black music from slave chants (work songs and Negro spirituals) to blues, jazz and rock and roll.

  2. Students learn to write their own blues and blues poems, and how to compose New Orleans Polyphony in the manner of Jelly Roll Morton.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS AND CONSULTANTS- THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE

  1. Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Yusef Komunyakaa

  2. Paul Ferguson, Director of Jazz Studies, Case Western Reserve University, and former member of the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras

  3. Caroline Jackson Smith, Associate Professor of Black Theater and African American Studies, Oberlin College

  4. Josephine Wright, Professor of Music and Chair of Africana Studies, College of Wooster and the first female editor of American Music

  5. Atwood Gaines, Professor of Anthropology and Program Faculty in Ethnic Studies and Women and Gender Studies, Case Western Reserve University

  6. Thomas Scheuerman, writer

  7. NEXUS founder Jesse Bryant Wilder.
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