I want to base the subject of my anthology on the idea of conflict within the Celtic revival and the Harlem Renaissance, and primarily how this conflict influences the two movements. I first got this idea when thinking of the group that published the magazine Fire!!, and how their views represented a beg shift in the Harlem renaissance. I also thought of the playboy riots that occurred after the first performances of The Playboy of the Western World. The riots, which were caused in large part due to the older generation and their fear of breaking off against Britain, signaled a change in how Irish literature was portrayed and accepted in the larger world of literature. I think that this conflict also relates to the topic of Minor Literature that we covered at the beginning of the semester. One of the three factors that define a minor literature, according to Deleuze and Guattari is that they are inherently political. They write that “its cramped space forces each individual intrigue to connect immediately to politics” (17). Because of this, there are bound to be discrepancies in the political views of many of the writers from both movements, which led to many of the conflicts that developed. Overall I want to see how these conflicts influenced and changed both the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance.
For my final anthology, I’m going to be looking at the relationship between sexuality and landscape in the literature of the Celtic Revival and Harlem Renaissance. The first text that I thought of that links these two ideas is “The Dead” in Dubliners–in particular, the confrontational scene between Miss Ivors and Gabriel. In this scene, Miss Ivors mentions Connacht as Gretta’s home, and Gabriel rejects the familial ties Gretta has there. Connacht, as a place, is very charged with sexuality–it is the site of Gretta’s prior love life, and it is also associated with the Love Songs of Connacht in Irish literature. Gabriel–a character associated with urban spaces and British ideals–rejects and fears Connacht, while Gretta and Miss Ivors embrace it as part of Irish culture.
While this aspect of “The Dead” shows a crucial intersection of place and sexuality, I plan to examine it further to reveal the tensions present between these two ideas. Mainly, I want to avoid categorizing “rural” and “urban” as sexualized or not sexualized in my anthology, since I think these blanket associations would oversimplify the issue. Instead, I want to show the nuances of how landscape and sexuality are represented in the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance. For example, in the Harlem Renaissance, I want to include both Hughes’ sexualized urban nightscape and Toomer’s representation of Southern women’s sexuality in Cane.
For my final anthology I want to analyze the roles of women during the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance. I noticed that as we studied these two movements throughout this semester that there were very few women with prominent roles. During the Celtic Revival it was more difficult for women to rise to these positions of power, but on the research I have done so far, women were seen as symbolic figures, and they were tied directly to the Irish “Celt”. In the Harlem Renaissance, there were more women in positions of prominence, but men still controlled much of the influence. Interestingly, the Women’s Rights movement started right around the end of the Harlem Renaissance, so I may draw from pieces and works towards the end of the movement. I want to include a variety of pieces by both male and female writers. I want to include primary sources, like Esther Popel Shaw’s letters and diary because I think they give certain contextual clues and are key to understanding what it was like for women during the movement. I want to conclude my anthology by determining, based on the evidence I have collected and pieces I have included, which movement had more freedom for and recognition of women.
For my final anthology, I am going to try to analyze the presence and influence of non-literary art forms in CR & HR works. Since we have consistently referred to the influence of Celt music and jazz in our discussion, I think it would be interesting to dig into the presence of music in particular on literary works. I would also like to include some actual non-literary art forms, such as music, paintings, drama, or print in my anthology. Especially since reading the M/m responses, I have realized how we privilege works of literature/essays in our definition of both the CR and HR. I hope to bridge that gap with my anthology. I also want to make a point of including women’s works in my anthology, since they seem to be left out of mainstream discussions of both movements. This anthology may narrow in scope as I move forward, but I would like to start with this broad outlook for my research because I may find something serendipitously that could take me in a different direction.
The majority of my work in English classes gravitates towards the issue of gender, but I would like to pursue this theme for this anthology because it will allow me to analyze the problem of gender in a very different way than I’ve tried before. This project will be a great avenue for me to explore gender in a new way, because compiling a Celtic Revival/Harlem Renaissance anthology that showcases women—both the few female authors that are available from both movements and also female characters/the portrayal of women in various works—will allow me to consider gender through an intersectional and racial lens.
For the Celtic Revival, the work that immediately springs to my mind is James Joyce’s “The Dead.” There is so much political tension behind both Greta and Ms. Ivors as characters. I am particularly interested in Greta because she is initially portrayed solely as Gabriel’s wife, but then as the story progresses we see so much more of her complexity as a character. Mrs. Ivors is important to acknowledge because while she is a minor character, she is a blatant representation of Irish nationalism.
For the Harlem Renaissance, I would definitely like to look at representations of women in Toomer’s Cane, and how gender influences the experiences Irene and Clare in Nella Larsen’s Passing. I might also look into selected poems from Langston Hughes’ The Weary Blues, as he often incorporates images of women in night club scenes.
When looking at these and other works, I will be focusing on the interaction between race and gender, specifically at how the female identity is suppressed or portrayed differently, because women were a part of a larger minority narrative (the Irish and African American struggles against oppression within their respective societies).
My ideas are definitely stronger for the Harlem Renaissance, so any input regarding works of the Celtic Revival that I could consider would be helpful.
Currently the organizing idea behind my final anthology is the use of humor in both the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance. I am looking at how writers in each movement used comedy in their works and what they were trying to accomplish by using humor.
Right now what I am seeming to find is that humor was was much more prevalent in the works of the Irish. Embracing humor and utilizing it was much more prevalent in Irish culture and most of the writers using it were detailing an inherently Irish trait in humor. Being funny and humorous was associated with being Irish and thus it was used in literature during the Celtic Revival as a way to showcase an Irish experience.
Humor has proved much more difficult to find in the Harlem Renaissance, as this movement almost seems to take itself more seriously. Though it does exist, there is a lot more focus on satirical humor. Whereas the Irish used humor as a way to emphasize nationalism, humor in the Harlem Renaissance was much more about breaking down or making fun of institutions in the US.
I will explore the uses of humor in these two movements with much greater detail moving forward to come up with a more concrete thesis, but this is where my project stands at right now. Obviously it is subject to change, but one thing my classmates could help me with is to point me in the direction of some particular pieces from either movement that you found particularly funny. I am looking for more humorous content from the Harlem Renaissance, but am open to suggestions form either movement so that I can read them and consider using them for my anthology (and if not than at least I got a laugh out of it).
I am writing my anthology about the absence and objectification of women in the Celtic Revival and Harlem Renaissance movements. Neither included many women as active participants, and both used women as passive symbols of nation, race, and moral quality. I noticed this throughout our reading in both movements as women were used as symbols of nation and morals rather than independent people who could also embrace their national and racial identities. For example, in Yeats’ “The Secret Rose,” Ireland is represented as “a woman of so shining loveliness.” Throughout the poem, men actively endeavor to find her. This leaves the female in the poem as a passive figure. This trend is problematic throughout the movement, as is the exclusion of women from activism and creation in the Celtic revival.
In the Harlem Renaissance, women play a similar role in male authors’ writing. Toomer’s blason in Cane breaks a woman down into parts and makes very important connections with racism, but does not include the woman so much as a person than as physical evidence of racism’s destructive qualities. Similarly, Langston Hughes uses women as symbols in his poems. Not only do male authors fail to show women as sovereign individuals, very few women are acknowledged contributors to these literary movements, and almost none reached the notoriety of their male counterparts.
I plan to split my anthology into two parts: one with male-authored poems using women as symbols or excluding them entirely from nationalist efforts, and another highlighting examples of women’s contributions to both the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance. Some of these will be from our class readings, but I want to highlight female authors who remain generally unknown.
My classmates could help me by providing suggestions of female authors or actors in either movement the encountered in other classes or outside reading. I would also like to include examples of men writing about women as people and agents of change, so suggestions would be helpful. Do you have any suggestions or contributions outside literature that would provide some variety?
I have decided to base my anthology on more of a thematic strain in the writing we have read rather than something outside of the works. I will be basing my anthology on the recurring idea of twilight/dusk and how both CR and HR writers picked up on the importance of that in between time, and the magic that occurred there.
The inspiration for this came initially from reading Dream Variations by Hughes, and then it all started connecting in my mind from Hughes to Yeats’ translations of the traditional Celtic stories. This is a time where both wondrous magical events can occur, but it can also be a scary, dangerous and even deathly time of the day. I’m also going to take a look at the illumination of the twilight via electricity helped prolong that this time of magic both, again illuminating it but also exposing the danger.
My initial organizing idea for the anthology was language and citizenship. Specifically, the ways that culturally specific language or speech affects an author’s connection to their respective nation or literary movement. These languages would be Gaelic or Irish language for the Celtic Revival, and “non-standard” English, sometimes called dialect for the Harlem Renaissance. I would question whether or not an author’s use of “native” language legitimizes or devalues his/her work, depending on the audience and its own cultural makeup. The germ for this topic came from class materials such as Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is a minor literature?” and the deterritorialization of language; Hyde’s “Necessity for De-Anglicizing Ireland” and his push for the re-emergence of Irish language; Kiberd’s discussions of the ways “Love Songs of Connacht” were translated; and HR literature like Hughes’s poem “Mother to Son.” However, I’m not sure whether to pursue this topic because the product might lean heavily towards the CR and I wanted to include both CR and HR texts in my anthology.
Another idea for the anthology comes from Professor Seiler. In my last blog post I discussed Barbara Foley’s M/m forum contribution, and the issue of periodization arose in defining the boundaries of the HR. The HR’s start and end dates remain contested, which affects which works or themes these dates establish as “relevant” to the movement. For example, Foley notes adjusting the dates of the HR ignores socialist and Marxist roots, or a wider breadth of work by Hughes or McKay that reveal political as well as racial sensibilities. This can be an issue for discussion in the CR revival as well (does the revival persist today? Do its roots stretch father back than the 19th century?). Consequently, in my anthology I would question what different versions of periodization do to enhance or exclude from the CR and the HR, and how these differing conceptions of time ultimately change political and social implications of the movements, their authors, and their texts. I think my project would be more even between the CR and HR with this topic, but may end up weighted more towards the HR.
Both research questions appeal to me and would be fascinating (and hopefully achievable) to organize an anthology. I am aware though that I must decide, and perhaps my classmates can help in this regard. Does one topic fit more with the design of this assignment?
My organizing idea for my anthology is exploring the use of poetry in both the Harlem Renaissance and the Celtic Revival as a catalyst for social and political uphaevel and as a method to document the memories and emotions of people during times of crisis and change.
I want to explore the broader idea of the importance of literature and art, in this case poetry, in the political and social change of groups and nations, in this case within the Celtic Revival and the Harlem Renaissance. The importance that The Crisis put on publishing poems in its issues that normally focused just on social and political news, for example the publishing of Esther Popel’s Flag Salute on its cover, inspired me to explore this idea. The work of Yeats as both a political activists and scholar, and as a nationalist Celtic poet, also relates to the importance of poetry in capturing the essence of the people, place and emotion of a nation, but also the ability of poetry to inspire citizens to act. My concern with this topic is that it is too broad. Should I focus on specific poets or specific poems? Are there other ways I can specify these ideas?