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Harlem Renaissance with Jennifer Baker


Four Sessions

Thursdays, 7:00 pm-8:30 pm September 26 to December 19, 2019

Meeting Dates: 9/26, 10/24, 11/21, 12/19

Among one of the most well-known and often referenced periods showcasing Black artists, the Harlem Renaissance also leaves an indelible mark in history thanks to notable contributions to the Literary Canon. Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and many more created community and a foundation through their art, solidifying a necessary platform for Black thought and creation.

The Harlem Renaissance was not only an artistic eruption but one that had far-reaching efforts in creators’ everyday lives where politics, personas, and the page weren’t mutually exclusive. What imprint did work from the Harlem Renaissance leave on our understanding of the 1920s/30s? How did these artists foresee what was to come not only in their work but in society? What narrative styles speak to readers in the execution of these works? Were artists of the time holding themselves and others accountable for where the world would go through their characters’ journeys? This reading group will pose these kinds of questions, and more, along with looking at themes ranging from locale to relationships (familial and romantic and interpersonal) to voice.

Works to be discussed include novels from George Schuyler (Black No More) and Nella Larsen (Quicksand), as well as nonfiction by Zora Neale Hurston (Barracoon) and a play by Angelina Weld Grimke (Rachel). Participants should read Barracoon in preparation for the first discussion in September. (A new work will be the focus at each meeting.)


Led by

  • Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor to Electric Literature.  In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & a Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant (as well as their award for Artistic Excellence) for nonfiction literature. Her essay “What We Aren’t (or the Ongoing Divide)” published in Kweli Journal was listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018. Jennifer is also the editor of the short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life with Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (2018).