Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance

1915-1945 *the golden age of American literature**radically different from traditional life -World War I -Roaring Twenties/ Jazz Age -Great Depression-World War II

characteristics of Modernism
*Period of questioning traditional values (role of religion questioned)*Period of disillusionment *Period of Fragmentation * Period of experimentation-subject and technique in visual & literal art -experiments with point of view

Imagism Movement
-short lived founder: Ezra Pound

20th Century
*the 20th century doesn’t really start until The Great War(WWI) in 1914 -technology is booming -Y2K was suppose to happen in 2000 -Mayan Calendar says the world is going to end in 2012–gravitational pull–eclipses/planets will line up **DESPAIR

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Despair (effects…)
-music -art -literature (very dark and ominous)-theology(people’s belief in eternal things )

*read something and see a picture to go with it House = building, structure–doesn’t evoke a lot of emotion *denotative word Home= family, love, safe place, where the heart is, warmth, –emotional *connotative word- suggest other things, what people think/feel

Ezra Pound
1885-1972 *one of the most influential poets if this century *founder of Imagism * “image” is something that presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time-The Cantos



*one of the most respected poets of his day*modernist, seemingly illogical, abstract iconoclastic poetry had revolutionary impact*formulation= “objective correlative” poems:”The Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, “The Hollow Men”. “The Waste land”

“The Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”


“The Hollow Men”

“The Waste land”


Gertrude Stain
1874-1946*developed an analogue to modern art

1896-1940*dazzling style, seductive glamour works:The Great Gatsby ,”Winter Dreams”

“Winter Dreams”
themes:The Dark Side of the American DreamReality versus Idealism

Harlem Renaissance
renaissance = new birth 1920’s – 1930’s (1922-1931)Concentration of artists, writers, musicians, visual artists in the Harlem community (black community writers)*jazz and blues influences focuses:- visions-economic and social inequality

factors that led to the Harlem Renaissance
1. *the great northern migration -post civil war -newly emancipated slaves had few options (share cropping ) – moved to the north with their families for better opportunities — industrial revolution – creates jobs 2. by 1900 there is an awakening that takes place that causes new-found pride in the black race – “The New Negro Movement” -education 3.

Harlem was a desirable community that was exclusively white. The community begins to transform with the immigration and becomes and exclusively black community Black artists, philosophers are drawn to Harlem creative energy

HR poetry themes
*Most of the poems have one of three focal points *Concentrate on racial issues 1. past -celebrate black heritage and the endurance in the face of hardship 2. present – lament racial discrimination 3.

future – look forward to equality *jazz is huge in Harlem *the city that never sleeps (very true during the 1920’s)

Langston Hughes
from Joplin, MO (frequently uses Harlem as a source of material) -many of his poems mimic the jazz rhythms and sounds poems:Mother to SonMe and the MuleCrossJuke Box Love SongThe Negro Speaks of RiversSong for a Dark Girl I, Too, Sing AmericaDream Variations

Jean Toomer
from Georgia poem:Beehive

Arna Bontemps
born in LA, raised in CApoems:Southern MansionThe DaybreakersA Black Man Talks of Reaping

Claude McKay
born and raised in Jamaica poems:If We Must DieAFTER THE WINTERTHE LYNCHING

Countee Cullen
from New York -sheltered life -classic poet in terms of form and subject matter poems:IncidentYet Do I MarvelFrom the Dark Tower For A Lady I Know