Harlem Renaissance Re-Examined

By Victor A. Kramer; Robert A. Russ | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION TO NEW EDITION

VICTOR A. KRAMER

In 1938, when much we now call the Harlem Renaissance was overshadowed, even forgotten, because of the Great Depression, Zora Neale Hurston published a book dedicated to Carl Van Vechten, whom she called "God's Image of a Teacher." Her gracious gesture reminds us of how we learn and is a reminder of what was frequently sensed about the complexity of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural blend now being intensely investigated by scholars of both races. Like any complex cultural movement in which persons learn from each other, the Harlem Renaissance (and its continuing study) must be seen as a series of interrelated events which reverberate down into our present consciousness. It is for such reasons that we return to this project with this expanded paperback edition.

Scholars know the surprising story of Zora Neale Hurston, long neglected and now being re-evaluated. We sometimes forget that the continuing process of re-examination is furthered because of the energetic intellectual and artistic curiosity of people like Hurston and Van Vechten and all the other artists examined in this book. As is clear from the figures examined here, as well as from the photographs added to this edition, which provide hints of the interplay between and among artists and black and white awareness, the phenomenon called the Harlem Renaissance will continue to spark the imagination of students and scholars.

It is especially appropriate as this book goes to press to mention the late Charles T. Davis, whose encouragement stood behind much of this continuing project. His 1970 University of Iowa N.E.H. Summer Institute on the Harlem Renaissance, which I attended, was a stimulus to the 1974 Studies in the Literary Imagination issue, which led to this revised study. A recent article about

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