(DEADLINE EXTENDED) Harlem Renaissance: A Century of Black Aesthetics
The Howard University Gregory J. Hampton Graduate English Students Association’s 6th Annual Graduate Conference
Harlem Renaissance: A Century of Black Aesthetics
Submission Deadline: January 14th, 2022
Decisions sent: January 17th, 2022
Conference Date: March 18th
Conference Location: Zoom
Keynote Speaker: [TBA]
Send Abstracts to Gesasecretary@gmail.com
In 1936, Alain Locke described Harlem as a “dark weather-vane of warning” (Survey Graphic). Referring to the Harlem riot of 1935 as a “dress rehearsal of proletarian revolution,” he credited this unrest with revealing a new Harlem which clashed with the prevailing image of booming nightlife, cabaret, and art. Staring this new Harlem in the face, Locke wrestled with the evident cultural advances of 1920s Harlem and the economic depression, unemployment, medical apartheid, and escalating police violence of the 1930s. Locke supposed it was easier to focus on the “hardy survivals of Negro art and culture than to contemplate this dark Harlem of semi-starvation, mass exploitation and seething unrest.” His article seemed to cast a shadow on the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, suggesting a move from focusing on art and culture to attending to social issues such as high rent and high unemployment rates.
Now, one hundred years removed from the Harlem Renaissance, we want to continue Locke’s examination of its legacy. Whether located in the archives, or revived on stage, the Harlem Renaissance has a legacy beyond just the birth of a Black Aesthetic. While Locke argues “there is no cure or saving magic in poetry and art,” we want to ask: what can we still learn from studying the work of Harlem Renaissance artists, writers, actors, and musicians? Locke’s article implies a disconnect between celebrating art and doing the social and economic work that is necessary for Black liberation when he writes that, “instead of applause and publicity, Harlem needs constructive social care.”
In conversation with Locke, The Gregory J. Hampton Graduate English Student Association invites scholars to submit abstracts for essays that explore how “applause” and “care” do not have to be mutually exclusive. What inspiration can we draw from the Harlem Renaissance to formulate solutions to current issues? What salve lurks in the old archives to heal new wounds? We also welcome abstracts on: the legacy and continued relevance of the Harlem Renaissance, the Harlem Renaissance through theory and criticism, the politics of the Harlem Renaissance and political theory contained therein, Howard University’s role in the Harlem Renaissance and institutions relevant to the Harlem Renaissance, patronage, salons, and communities of artists throughout the Harlem Renaissance. We also invite presenters and panelists to consider broader ideas over what is a “Black Aesthetic,” the legacy of Alaine Locke, and the legacy of film related to the Harlem Renaissance, including the recent adaptation of Nella Larsen’s Passing.