Thursday, November 16th, 2017...10:54 pmAlexis Wiggins

Emily Barnard Answers Modernism/moderninity

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In her response Emily Barnard answers the question “how has your ideas about the Harlem ┬áRenaissance evolved since you first began writing about it?” She says that her ideas haven’t changed but “evolved.” Emily says she was first drawn to the Harlem Renaissance because of the style of the era. As she learned more about it she began to be captivated by the “degree of importance assigned to the issue of style.” I was excited to read her opinion because as we have read about the Harlem Renaissance in class I have been interested in the same thing, the assumption that art and style could change the social position of African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. This idea evident in most of the readings we have done for class, but the most recent piece we read “The Negro and the Racial Mountain” by Langston Hughes highlights and critiques this idea in a way. Langston Hughes discusses the way some artists see style, art and, most importantly, education as a way to climb to a better social class, but he critiques these people as wanting to conform to the white standard of social advancement and education and looking down on black art and music etc. Emily touches on this later in her response to the question by talking about her interest in the role that “whiteness” played in the issue of style.

A question I would add to the questionnaire is:

What classification (if any) besides modernism/modernity would you place the Harlem Renaissance into?


  • I agree with the idea that art and style had a big role for African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. From Jazz to poetry the music world and the literary world contributed greatly. Even looking at Langston Hughes who is known for his contributions to the movement in poetry, and even looking back to Esther Popel Shaw and her poem Flag Salute, demanding the rights of all citizens.

  •   Aliya Nichols
    November 19th, 2017 at 2:38 am

    I find it interesting how Langston Hughes critiques artists and thinks that they “conform to the white standard of social advancement and education and looking down on black art and music etc.” I don’t see this idea as conformity but rather a way of integration. It eliminates segregation by allowing the methods of upward mobility to be cross racial.

  • When I read Hughes’ work, “The Negro and the Racial Mountain” I found it interesting that he claimed that he discussed the idea of conformity of black American artists to be “more white”. This idea related to class structures has come up several times in our class, one example being the work we read, “The Negro-Art Hokum” by Schuyler. Here, he argues against the differences between blacks and whites, calling into question the argument many authors make about the fundamental advantage in art that black Americans have.

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 21st, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Lexie–It’s too bad you can’t join us for class tomorrow, because we’ll be taking up Hughes’s “Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Judging by this post, you’d have great insights to share. Nice job.

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