Thursday, November 16th, 2017...8:25 pmBecca Stout

Emily Bernard on Modernism/modernity

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Emily Bernard focused her response around style, depth, and theater. While she first studied the Harlem Renaissance in undergrad, she mostly appreciated it for the surface level style. She appreciated and was attracted by the “elegance” of the clothing and buildings. However, the more she studied it, the more depth she saw in the movement. Once she focused on the idea of the New Negro, she realized how race, culture, and political ideologies tie into the works from this movement. While the surface level is what drew her in, the depth of the Harlem Renaissance has held her interest and led her to study it more. This has also led her to apply the Harlem Renaissance’s message about race relations to the realities of race relations today.

At the same time, she claims that one underrepresented and unfocused aspect of the Harlem Renaissance is theater. She mentions specific actors and actresses which she believes are incredibly understudied for how good they are. She claims that there are many resources about them that have not been studied because no one finds them important enough to research and write about.

One question I would like to add to McKible and Churchill’s questionnaire would be: what, when, and how should students learn about the Harlem Renaissance?


  • I find it ironic that although Bernard wanted to get past her initial intrigue in the “glamour” of the Harlem Renaissance, she ends up focussing on theater. I think theater is often linked to an extremely glamorous community. On the contrary, that irony very much parallels Bernards chronology of studying the Harlem Renaissance, because I am sure behind the curtain, there are a lot of less glamorous aspects to theater. In a way Bernard really went to the root of her interest to pick apart this “glamour” and see past it.

  • I think that the question that you pose to McKible and Churchill is very interesting, as it challenges these authors to identify the components of the Harlem Renaissance that they believe are the most important for people to analyze in order to possess a holistic understanding of this movement. While I do not think that there is one “right” way to teach or learn about the Harlem Renaissance, I think that your summary of Emily Bernard’s view is valuable because it outlines how theater remains an underrepresented topic of analysis in the Harlem Renaissance. Does Bernard suggest particular works, actors, or plays that should be included in the study of the Harlem Renaissance? Great post:)

  •   Alexis Wiggins
    December 4th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    I think your question regarding the education of students about the Harlem Renaissance is a good one. I think I first learned about the Harlem Renaissance in a history class when we were learning about the Civil Rights Movement. To specifically expand on your question, you could ask whether students should take a historical or literature driven perspective on the Harlem Renaissance, or wether one should come before the other. Overall good job!

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