Steven Watson, the Harlem Renaissance; Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930

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Steven Watson, The Harlem Renaissance; Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930

The decade of the Harlem Renaissance marked an exuberant period in American History. Significant developments in Harlem during this decade can be measured by the tremendous amount of literature that was produced, as well as the many noteworthy musicians and artists that emerged as pioneers in the related arts. Studies of this time period provide an enlightening view of the early 1900s in America. While information about many of the key contributors and events can be found in anthologies, few offer a view of the Harlem Renaissance in its contextual entirety. The Harlem Renaissance; Hub of African American Culture, 1920-1930, by Steven Watson provides an informative survey of that era. His exploration of the decade that marked a pivotal point in African-American history and culture would be particularly useful for high school students. In addition to its survey of literary works of the period, the book provides authentic illustrations of people, places, and events, such as reproductions of posters, newspaper clippings, and similar graphics. This integrated study would undoubtedly arouse student interest in the time period, as well as the developments leading up to and resulting from the Harlem Renaissance.

One aspect of Watson's book that would be of use in the high school classroom is the placement of literary references throughout the pages. Most of the over two hundred pages, include quotes, slang, poems, song lyrics, slogans, and other such information that add to one's understanding of the flavor of the period. Students would gain a better appreciation of the time and the people involved because of Watson's careful notation of the language and his detail of contributing literary figures. Each page is framed with some particular that ranges from dance exhortations such as, "Jook it, papa! Jook!" to quotes from people of the period, including writers, critics, and observers. Students would be exposed to more than just the historical facts, but would receive veritable examples of specific aspects of many of the things that characterized the period. Quotes from news publications such as Time magazine, New York News, New York Herald Tribune, and the Daily News provide a larger context for the Harlem Renaissance. …