Tuesday, December 5th, 2017...2:37 amwinslowo

Internal Criticism and Variances within the Celtic Revival and Harlem Renaissance

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The Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance are both social and literary movements centered around marginalized groups of regional and ethnic groups.  While the Celtic Revival was, in an entirely broad sense, an attempt to reclaim and reestablish a national Irish identity and create a meaningful connection to the land itself, the Harlem Renaissance was a collaboration of African-American peoples generating art and literature in response to generations of oppression.  The two movements have their similarities in that they, to some, are examples of “minor literature,” or a subset from the dominant cannon of literature in popular culture.  In terms of content though, each movement is unique and unparalleled by the other.  One major similarity within each movement is their respective writers had motives.  Writers may have had differing viewpoints or how those writers went about fulfilling their motives may have differed though.  The writers that I have chosen to highlight represent opposing viewpoints from within the same overall social movement.  W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde all have ties to the Celtic Revival, whether it be one’s connection to the ancient mysticism of the land in Ireland such as Yeats, or another’s ideal of what a “celt” ought to be such as Synge.  Artists from the Harlem Renaissance exhibit more of a generational gap as to how the “negro” population should move forward and the juxtaposition of Alain Locke and Marcus Garvey beside Wallace Thurman and Langston Hughes makes this apparent.


Final Question:  I have a more concrete idea of how there was a generational gap between the artists I discuss in the Harlem Renaissance, but I am struggling to find real dichotomy with the celtic revival artists.  What trends do you see with the writes I have chosen?


  • I really love your essay topic and think that this is going to be a very interesting anthology. As for your final question, I think that you draw the reader to two different interpretations of the Celt by utilizing Yeats and Synge. I think that one aspect that you can consider is how does Joyce utilize the Celt in “The Dead”? Miss Ivors and Gregory have very different interpretations of the Celt, one being positive and the other being negative. Do you plan on using Michael Furey in your anthology? If so, what version of the Celt does he support? How would Yeats and Synge view Furey and Joyce’s use of his character?

  •   Charlotte Hayden
    December 6th, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    To answer your question, the trend I see in your chosen Celtic Revival authors is their locations: Yeats and Wilde mostly lived in England, especially London, and were therefore more entrenched in upper-crust English society. Joyce and Synge, though I am not sure, seem to have stayed more allegiant to Ireland in terms of actually living there and documenting its people. So maybe you could examine the difference in your authors’ pro-Irish literature, given the wide class and geographical gaps between them.

  • The reason all the of the celtic revival artists were writing was to somehow promote the Celt as a culture and as a land to appreciate. Whether is was taking one explicitly over the other, the goal was the same; to bring recognition to this unique culture and group of people in order to gain independence from Great Britain. It is less the singular methods that the artists took, and rather the overall effect they were trying to achieve.

  • I am not quite sure the extent to which this helps with your particular argument, but one trend in the Celtic Revival writers is their influence from Britain. For example, Yeats and Wilde attended some schooling in Britain. The extent to which each writer has or does not have ties to Britain would most certainly change how they view Ireland/Britain relations. Another connection to make is the type of works/projects they undertook. All were interested in plays or theater. In that sense, all were interested in performance and visual art, which would further link them together.

  •   Professor Seiler
    December 8th, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Owen, your peers beat me to this post and we’ve talked since you wrote it. So: let me re-emphasize that you’re looking, I think, to draw out diverse sites of internal debate w/in each movement.

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