Reading Response #1: The Harlem Renaissance

Reading Response #1: The Harlem Renaissance

In their respective essays, Alain Locke and Langston Hughes discuss a new sensibility for African Americans in the 1920s. Both authors suggest that terrain of race

relations has, or must, shift during this period, and that African Americans themselves do, or should, redefine their relationship to white Americans and their role

within American culture. Both authors are committed to furthering racial pride in African Americans and in dispensing with the cultural and intellectual shackles that

had rendered African Americans second-class citizens within the U.S.

In this response paper, please compare/contrast the viewpoints of Locke and Hughes. As you consider their essays, you may want to address one or more of the following


•    How do the authors discuss and evaluate class distinctions within the African American community? Do they agree or disagree about cross-class solidarity? What

role does social class play in the broader arguments of their essays?

•    How do the authors understand the relationship between white Americans and African Americans? To what do they attribute shifts in this relationship?

•    What do each of the authors advocate in their essays? In other words, what do they hope their readers will do or think after having read the piece? Are their

goals compatible? In what ways are they different?

•    How would Locke respond to Hughes? Hughes to Locke? Do the author share premises? Are their assessments of the problems and potentials facing African Americans

similar? Different?  In other words, does Locke also see a “racial mountain”? Is the world Hughes writes about peopled by the “New Negro”?

The Response Paper:
Responses papers should be no more than three pages. Please use the following format for your papers: 12 point Times New Roman font; one-inch margins; double-spaced.

The paper should put the two articles in dialogue with one another and should make a claim about lines of agreement/disagreement across the two essays. Textual support

must be provided to support the claims made in the response paper.

Papers will be graded according to the following criteria:
?    Strength and persuasiveness of analysis
?    Clarity in the presentation of ideas
?    Organization of the essay
?    Proper use of grammar, punctuation, syntax


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