The Harlem Renaissance

1920s - 1930s

"The renaissance mainly involved a group of writers and intellectuals associated (often loosely) with Harlem, the district of Manhattan that, during the migration of African Americans from the rural South, became the major center for urbanized blacks.

The Harlem writers… engaged in an intense debate regarding the place of the African American in American life, and on the role and identity of the African-American artist” (1920s-Mid-1930s Harlem Renaissance).

Featured author for this period...

Langston Hughes


Langston Hughes

    • The American Academy of Poets: Langston Hughes - biographical information and links to some of his more famous poems.
    • "Harlem: A Dream Deferred" - read the poem that inspired the title of the play A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Short Story: "Cora Unashamed" (handout)
        • Poem: "I, Too" -p. 928
        • Poem: "Dream Variations" -p. 930
        • Poem: "Refugee in America" -p. 931
        • Poem: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" -p. 926
    • Additional Resources
        • Short Story: "Cora Unashamed" (handout)


Even more writers to explore...


Ara Bontemps

    • Arna Bontemps- interesting biographical information from the Academy of American Poets.
    • Modern American Poetry: Arna Bontemps - from the Department of English at the University of Illinois, this site offers biographical information as well as links to selected works and analysis/criticism.
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Poem: "A Black Man Talks of Reaping" -p. 939


Countee Cullen

    • Countee Cullen- interesting biographical information from the Academy of American Poets.
    • Modern American Poetry: Countee Cullen - from the Department of English at the University of Illinois, this site offers biographical information as well as links to selected works and analysis/criticism.
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Poem: "The Dark Tower" -p. 938

Zora Neale Hurston

    • Zora Neale Hurston - The Zora Neal Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Excerpt from Autobiography: "Dust Tracks on a Road" -p. 914.


Claude McKay

    • Modern American Poetry: Claude McKay - from the Department of English at the University of Illinois, this site offers biographical information as well as links to selected works and analysis/criticism.
    • Claude McKay- from the Academy of American poets, biographical information and links to some of his works.
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Poem: "The Tropics in New York" -p. 932


Jean Toomer

    • Modern American Poetry: Jean Toomer - from the Department of English at the University of Illinois, this site offers biographical information as well as links to selected works and analysis/criticism.
    • Jean Toomer- from the Academy of American poets, biographical information.
    • Prentice Hall Literature: The American Experience - Selected Textbook Resources:
        • Poem: "Storm Ending" -p. 940


Overall "Text to World" & "Text to Text" Connections for this Literary Period

  • American Memory Timeline - from the Learning Page at The Library of Congress, this link will help you connect American history to American literature.


Work Cited

“1920s-Mid-1930s Harlem Renaissance.” American Masters: The American Novel. 2007. Public Broadcasting Network. 20 June 2007 <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americannovel/ timeline/ harlemrenaissance.html >.