Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West

Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West

Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West

Rereading the Harlem Renaissance: Race, Class, and Gender in the Fiction of Jessie Fauset, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West

Synopsis

"This rereading of the Harlem Renaissance gives special attention to Fauset, Hurston, and West. Jones argues that all three aesthetics influence each of their works, that they have been historically mislabeled, and that they share a drive to challenge racial, class, and gender oppression. The introduction provides a detailed historical overview of the Harlem Renaissance and the prevailing aesthetics of the period. Individual chapters analyze the works of Hurston, West, and Fauset to demonstrate how the folk, bourgeois, and proletarian aesthetics figure into their writings. The volume concludes by discussing the writers in relation to contemporary African American women authors." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

When former president of the United States Bill Clinton opened his new office in Harlem during the summer of 2001, newspaper, radio, and television stations all over the world reported the historic event. The entrance of Bill Clinton into this mostly black mecca triggered a string of reactions among the media, who noted the former U.S. president's presence in Harlem as further proof of a second “renaissance” in Harlem. National magazines, such as Vanity Fair, heralded the advent of the “Second (Harlem) renaissance” and the revitalization of the area as evidenced by the popularity of Harlem nightclubs, restaurants, and galleries (“Harlem Renaissance” 2001:193). The Vanity Fair layout included a map of Harlem's most popular sites. The affluent individuals moving into Harlem to renovate old brownstones and “gentrify” the area, and the escalating price of real estate in this mostly lower-class area of New York, made the area seem to be undergoing a revitalization. Tour buses travel to Harlem, stopping at historic restaurants, churches, and nightclubs to let tourists from all over the world learn about the glorious past and the promising future of Harlem. Bill Clinton's new offices, located on 125th Street, testify to the vitality and energy associated with this area of Harlem, which promises to become a thriving part of the community. Like the first renaissance that began in 1900 and ended in 1940, this current renaissance calls into mind the politics of race and socioeconomic class through the commercialization and commodification of Harlem as a site of “blackness” and urban American culture. In the 1920s and 1930s, upper-middle-class whites who wanted to be on the “cutting edge” of developments in music, art, and literature flocked to Harlem nightspots to listen to jazz, view art exhibits, and meet with promising African American intellectuals who fashioned themselves to be trailblazers in promoting the image of the “New Negro.”

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