M A I N * L I N K S


SUNY Fredonia
Division of Arts and Humanities
ENGL 341: Harlem Renaissance
Spring 2009
Section 1: TTh 9:30-10:50 am, Grissom A122
Office: Fenton 265; M 10-4, TTh 4-5, W 1-3, and by appointment; 673-3856
E-mail: simon@fredonia.edu (during working hours); brucesimon18@yahoo.com (evenings and weekends)
Web Site: www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/
Course ANGEL Site: https://fredonia.sln.suny.edu/frames.aspx


About the Course Web Pages

This web site is designed to help you get as much out of this course as possible--you can use it to find out how your work will be assessed, what assignments are due and when, how to use the course ANGEL site, and how to use the world-wide web for research, among other things. Please get in the habit of checking back to these pages to keep track of changes to the syllabus and advice on assignments, as well as to surf the ever-expanding list of links to interesting web pages related to the course. And please contact me any time (see above for my coordinates) if you have ideas about how to improve these pages or the course as a whole.

I. Course Description

Study of texts representative of the literature flourishing within the African-American community between approximately 1919 and 1930. Focuses on the political, social and literary origins of this movement, as well as the different literary and artistic genres created during this era.

This section is ENGL 341 is designed to introduce students to the analysis of major literary works, genres, and debates of the Harlem--or New Negro--Renaissance. We will focus on the ways in which literature represents, responds to, and shapes intellectual and political transformations in American society and African American culture during the period, with special attention to the meaning of migration, constructions of black identity, and issues of difference within black America. Along the way, we'll examine transnational connections and consider global contexts relevant to the study of the Harlem Renaissance and New Negro movements.

ENGL 341 is a period course for students in the English and Secondary English Education majors and an elective in African American Studies and American Studies; it also satisfies Part 12 of the College Core Curriculum (CCC).

II. Rationale

In ENGL 341, as in most courses offered by the English Department, students from a range of majors, minors, and concentrations interact, and the goals of the professional programs are integrated with specific course and CCC goals. Achieving these goals (described in Section IV below) will require us to foster academic skills and intellectual habits of reading closely and carefully, thinking critically and creatively, listening actively and attentively, speaking thoughtfully and concisely, and writing clearly and analytically--skills and habits useful to everyone, but of particular importance to future teachers.

III. Texts. There are six books in the campus bookstore for you to purchase:

IV. Course Objectives and Outcomes

This course is designed to give students the opportunity to develop a critical or analytical approach to this period of African American and American literature; to develop their ability to read and respond to a variety of primary sources with understanding and to integrate knowledge from different sources, their awareness of historical contexts for Harlem Renaissance literature and culture, their understanding of contemporary U.S. society (as refined through attention to the contemporary implications or ramifications of Harlem Renaissance literature, culture, and history), and their understanding of values and/or assumptions we bring to the study of this period of African American and American literature; and to develop the curiosity to explore Harlem Renaissance literature, culture, and history further. To achieve these goals, students will

V. Instructional Methods and Activities

The methods used in the classroom will include lecture, in-class writing, guided discovery, open discussion, various kinds of cooperative group work, and other critical thinking- and active learning-oriented activities.

VI. Evaluation and Grade Assignment

A. Methods

Attendance/Preparation/Participation (15%). Regular attendance and thoughtful participation are crucial to your enjoyment of and success in this course. If there is absolutely no way for you to avoid missing a class, please contact me ahead of time or soon after your absence, preferably by email. More important than showing up on time, of course, is coming to class prepared and focused. I expect you to read what has been assigned for a given date at least once (and preferably more than that!) by the time we begin to discuss it in class, and to familiarize yourself with and think about the postings on the course ANGEL site's discussion board and on American Identities, the course blog (described below and in Section VIIIB). This is a discussion rather than a lecture course, after all; although I will provide some context for and interpretations of our reading, the bulk of class time will be spent in small- or large-group discussions and activities. Since it's difficult to make good contributions to discussions about a literary work if you haven't read it carefully or thought about it extensively, how well you budget your time outside of class will to a large degree determine how well you do in this class in general and how well you do on this portion of your course grade in particular.

Your grade for this segment of the course will be based on a combination of your attendance and your preparation/participation in class and on the course ANGEL site and/or blog. As there are no exams in this course, think of my evaluation of your preparation/participation as a different but equally important method of assessing your overall performance and improvement in the course. The quality of your online participation and preparation for your written and oral assignments will be factored into this grade. Due to the reliance on attendance of many aspects of preparation and participation, more than two unexcused absences will hurt your preparation/participation/team work grade and each non-emergency absence after the fourth will lower your final course grade by one grade (e.g., with five such absences, a B+ will become a C+; with six, it will become a D+).

Online Participation (15%). Detailed instructions for using the course ANGEL site (fredonia.sln.suny.edu/frames.aspx) are given below (see Section VIIIB) and will be discussed in class. We will be using the site to distribute announcements, provide research and other resources, and collect certain assignments, so be in the habit of checking it regularly. To supplement and prepare for our class discussions and activities, as well as continue them after the end of class, I have created a discussion board on our course ANGEL space. You should use it to develop your writing and critical thinking skills, demonstrate your engagement with the course material, and consider and respond to others' ideas and interpretations. For instance, you can, among other things,

Over the course of the semester, I will keep track of the timing, amount, and quality of your posts to the discussion board, including the quality of the ensuing online discussions initiated by them; 0-4 posts will earn you a zero, 5-9 posts an F, 10-14 a D, 15-19 a C, 20-24 a B, and 25+ an A on this segment of your final grade. Posts to American Identities, the course blog, will be added to your total (how much depends on their quality). For further information on the course ANGEL space's discussion board and the course blog, including more specific requirements and extensive advice, go to www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/hr2/op.htm.

Critical Essay (20%). I will provide detailed information on 4-to-6-page critical essay on the course web site at www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/hr2/ce.htm.

Group Discussion-Leading Project (20%). I will provide detailed information on the 30-to-60-minute discussion-leading project on the course web site at www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/hr2/gdlp.htm.

Final Research Project (30%). I will provide detailed information on the 8-to-12-page final project on the course web site at www.fredonia.edu/department/english/simon/hr2/frp.htm. Possibilities include a research-based critical essay, a research-based pedagogical essay, a research-based creative project with author's note, or a research-based web authoring project. We will arrange for a mandatory individual conference on your final project topic after spring break.

B. Grading. All work during the semester will be graded on a letter basis (A=outstanding, B=good, C=average, D=bad, F=awful) and converted into a number for purposes of calculating final grades. I use the following conversion system (the number in parentheses is the "typical" or "normal" conversion, but any number in the range may be assigned to a given letter grade):

A+=97-100 (98); A=93-96.99 (95); A-=90-92.99 (91); B+=87-89.99 (88); B=83-86.99 (85); B-=80-82.99 (81); C+=77-79.99 (78); C=73-76.99 (75); C-=70-72.99 (71); D+=67-69.99 (68); D=63-66.99 (65); D-=60-62.99 (61); F=0-59.99 (55)

Your final grade is determined by converting the weighted numerical average of the above assignments into a letter grade, according to the above scale.

C. Portfolio. English and English Adolescence Education majors should be aware of the English department's guidelines for ongoing portfolio submissions.

VII. Bibliography.

A. Contemporary References

B. Classic References

C. Key Journals



VIII. Course Schedule and Policies

A. Tentative Course Schedule. The following course schedule is subject to revision--please refer here regularly for updates to this schedule, as well as to the course ANGEL site for notes on the texts and suggestions for further reading. It's expected that you'll make use of the links page to prepare for class discussion. In class, we'll largely be focusing on interpretive, comparative, and evaluative issues, guided by previous online and in-class discussion topics. Please recall that you need to submit 25 original posts to the ANGEL discussion board to earn an A for the online participation segment of your final grade (see Section VI). (Key: CFHR=Classic Fiction of the Harlem Renaissance; NN=The New Negro; VHR=Voices from the Harlem Renaissance.)

To Harlem


T 1/27 introductions; set-up
Th 1/29 excerpts from the documentary The Story of English, the film The Jazz Singer, and selected Looney Tunes cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s


T 2/3 Nathan Irvin Huggins, Introduction (VHR 3-11); William Andrews, Introduction (CFHR 3-13); Arnold Rampersad, "Introduction" (NN ix-xxiii)
Th 2/5 1919: A. Philip Randolph, "A New Crowd--A New Negro" (VHR 18-20); 1920: W.A. Domingo, "The New Negro--What Is He?" (VHR 23-25); 1925: Alain Locke, "The New Negro" and "Negro Youth Speaks" (NN 3-16, 47-53)


T 2/10 1916: James Weldon Johnson, "Brothers" (VHR 352-353); 1919-1921: Claude McKay, "If We Must Die," "The Lynching," and "America" (VHR 353-355); 1925, 1927: Countee Cullen, "Incident" and "From the Dark Tower" (VHR 359-360); 1926: Helene Johnson, "A Southern Road" (VHR 360-361) and Arna Bontemps, "A Black Man Talks of Reaping" (VHR 355); 1927: Langston Hughes, "Song for a Dark Girl" (VHR 358-359)
Th 2/12 1938: Richard Wright, "Long Black Song" (VHR 420-438)


T 2/17 1925, 1927-1928: Rudolph Fisher, "City of Refuge" (NN 57-74), "Miss Cynthie" (CFHR 238-253), "The Caucasian Storms Harlem" (VHR 74-82), and "An Introduction to Contemporary Harlemese" (CFHR 395-403)
Th 2/19 1930: James Weldon Johnson, from Black Manhattan (VHR 56-72); 1935: Nancy Cunard, "Harlem Reviewed" (VHR 122-132); 1940: Langston Hughes, from The Big Sea (VHR 90-98)

In Harlem


T 2/24 1918: Claude McKay, "Harlem Shadows" (VHR 84); 1921-1922, 1925, 1959: Langston Hughes, "Danse Africaine," "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "Mother to Son," and "Afro-American Fragment" (VHR 146-147, 153, 155, 359), and "Dream Variation" (NN 143); 1925: Countee Cullen, "To a Brown Girl" and "To a Brown Boy" (NN 129), Georgia Douglass Johnson, "The Ordeal" (NN 146), Anne Spencer, "Lady, Lady" (NN 148), and Angelina Grimke, "The Black Finger" (NN 148); 1931: Helene Johnson, "Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem" and "Poem" (VHR 182-183) and Gwendolyn Bennett, "To a Dark Girl" (VHR 191)
Th 2/26 1927: Eric Walrond, "City Love" (VHR 84-90) and Rudolph Fisher, "Blades of Steel" (VHR 110-121); 1934: Langston Hughes, "The Blues I'm Playing" (CFHR 363-379)


M 3/2 CRITICAL ESSAY due in ANGEL drop box by 11:30 pm
T 3/3 1922: James Weldon Johnson, Preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry (VHR 281-304); 1925: Alain Locke, "The Legacy of the Ancestral Arts" (NN 254-268); Arthur Schomburg, "The Negro Digs Up His Past" (VHR 217-221)
Th 3/5 1925: Albert Barnes, "Negro Art and America," Claude McKay, "Negro Dancers," J.A. Rogers, "Jazz at Home," and Langston Hughes, "Jazzonia," (NN 19-25, 214-215, 216-224, 226); 1920s and 1930s: "Visual Arts" (VHR 259-278); 1935: Zora Neale Hurston, "Characteristics of Negro Expression" and "Spirituals and Neo-Spirituals" (VHR 224-236, 344-347)


T 3/10 1926: George Schuyler, "The Negro-Art Hokum" (VHR 309-312) and Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" (VHR 305-309)
Th 3/12 1926: Richard Bruce, "Smoke, Lilies, and Jade" (VHR 99-110); 1932: Wallace Thurman, from Infants of the Spring (CFHR 380-393); 1937: Alain Locke, "Spiritual Truancy" (VHR 404-406); 1940: Langston Hughes, from The Big Sea (VHR 370-381)


M 3/16-F 3/20 NO CLASSES--Spring Break

Harlem and Beyond


T 3/24 1925: Charles Johnson, "The New Frontage on American Life," James Weldon Johnson, "Harlem: The Cultural Capital," E. Franklin Frazier, "Durham: Capital of the Black Middle Class," and W.A. Domingo, "Gift of the Black Tropics" (NN 278-298, 301-311, 333-340, 341-349)
Th 3/26 1931: George Schuyler, Black No More, Preface-Ch. 5 (13-105)


T 3/31 1931: George Schuyler, Black No More, Ch. 6-13 (105-222)
Th 4/2 1928: Nella Larsen, Quicksand, Ch. 1-8 (CFHR 258-293)
F 4/3 CRITICAL ESSAY due in ANGEL drop box by 11:30 pm (if not turned in for previous unit)


T 4/7 1928: Nella Larsen, Quicksand, Ch. 9-25 (CFHR 293-361)
Th 4/9 1928: W.E.B. Du Bois, Dark Princess, Parts I and II (1-105)


T 4/14 1928: W.E.B. Du Bois, Dark Princess, Part III (106-214)
Th 4/16 1928: W.E.B. Du Bois, Dark Princess, Part IV (215-312)


T 4/21 1920: W.A. Domingo, "Africa for the Africans" (VHR 25-27); 1921: A. Philip Randolph, "Garveyism" (VHR 27-35); 1923: Marcus Garvey, "Africa for the Africans" and "The Future as I See It" (VHR 35-41); 1925: W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Negro Mind Reaches Out" (NN 385-414)
Th 4/23 1920: W.E.B. Du Bois, "Race Pride" and "On Being Black" (VHR 42, 211-215); 1925: Claude McKay, "The Tropics in New York," Langston Hughes, "I, Too," and Countee Cullen, "Heritage" (NN 135, 145, 250-253); 1929: George Schuyler, "Our Greatest Gift to America" (VHR 361-365); 1926, 1932: Langston Hughes, "Negro" and "Always the Same" (VHR 153-154, 418-419)

Harlem and After


T 4/28 1993-1995: Samuel Delany, "Atlantis: Model 1924," a-b (1-56)
Th 4/30 1993-1995: Samuel Delany, "Atlantis: Model 1924," c-d (57-100)


T 5/5 1993-1995: Samuel Delany, "Atlantis: Model 1924," e (101-121)
Th 5/7 reflections, wrap-up, course evaluations


T 5/12 1:30-3:30 pm: optional, extra-credit peer review session in regular classroom
F 5/15 FINAL RESEARCH PROJECT due in ANGEL drop box by 11:30 pm

B. Class Policies

1. Attendance. As stated in Section VI above, barring emergencies each absence after the fourth will lower your final course grade by one grade. Be aware that absences due to emergencies are the only absences that will not be counted toward your total for the semester. Emergencies include but are not limited to death in the family, hospitalization or serious illness, natural disasters, and snow days; scheduled and unavoidable school-sponsored events (games, meets, performances, etc.) are also counted as emergencies for the purpose of this attendance policy. Besides emergencies, the only other absences that won't affect your participation/preparation grade are excused absences. Please notify the instructor over email, in advance if possible and, if not, as soon after the absence as possible, if you wish an absence to be considered as an emergency or excused absence; the decision will be made at the instructor's discretion.

2. Online Participation. Please familiarize yourself with the college's "Computer and Network Usage Policy" (Undergraduate Catalog 2007-2009, pp. 240-247) and check with me first before posting something to the discussion board on the ANGEL site that is not directly related to the course. If you wish to join the American Identities blog as a co-author, please send me your email address and the name (real, shortened, or invented) you plan to be blogging under. I'll send an invitation to join the blog to that email address and let you know how many discussion board posts each blog post you do is equivalent to.

3. Late Assignments. Only students who ask for an extension at least two days before the due date of any assignment will be granted an extension. For everyone else, late work is penalized by a grade off per day late.

4. Plagiarism and Academic Integrity. To plagiarize is "to steal and pass off as one's own the ideas or words of another" (Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). SUNY Fredonia strongly condemns plagiarism and takes severe action against those who plagiarize. Disciplinary action may extend to suspension from privileges or expulsion from college. Please familiarize yourself with the college's "Academic Integrity Policy" (Undergraduate Catalog 2007-2009, pp. 236-239, see also p. 222) and check with your instructor if you have any questions about it.

5. Students with Disabilities. If you have a documented disability, please see our Office of Disability Support Services in the Learning Center at Reed Library (www.fredonia.edu/tlc/DSS/dss.htm).

6. Cell Phones. Please turn them off before you enter the class. I'll be holding onto any phones that buzz or ring for the duration of the class.


M A I N * L I N K S



ENGL 341: Harlem Renaissance, Spring 2009
Created: 2/2/09 1:30 pm
Last modified: 5/4/09 12:51 pm
Webmaster: Bruce Simon, Associate Professor of English, SUNY Fredonia
Check out the Spring 2003 version of this course!