Background on the Harlem Renaissance: a webquest

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Name: Hasani Cooper Date: December 6th 2012
Background on the Harlem Renaissance: A Webquest
Before reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, it is important that we have an in-depth understanding of the social, political and historical context from which this novel emerged. This understanding includes knowledge of the emergence of the rich, vibrant explosion in artistic achievement we call the Harlem Renaissance. For this assignment, you will explore the pivotal time during which the Harlem Renaissance occurred by visiting the following websites and answering the questions below.
Category 1: Art of the Harlem Renaissance
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1. During the time period, the social movement we now call the Harlem Renaissance was called the “New Negro Movement” why do you think this name was recognized as appropriate? A: This was seen as appropriate because this was the changing of how people saw them. Instead of being seen as illiterate and unintelligent they wanted to be seen in a different light.

2. Consider the changes in America between the end of the Civil War and the start of WW II, why is it that many African-Americans were actively trying to define what it meant to be both "African" and "American"?

A: because they wanted to show that they weren’t that different from every one because they were American but that they also weren’t exactly the same because they are African.
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3. This website has several Harlem Renaissance experts that try to answer the question "The art of the Harlem Renaissance seems overwhelmingly optimistic, despite the fact that Harlem   was already in a state of economic decline and many African-American performers were not embraced by mainstream America. Why?"  Read the answers the experts provide and describe in your own words why you think Harlem Renaissance Art was so often optimistic rather than pessimistic.

A: Harlem renaissance art was optimistic because it showed a different view of the world at the time and the artist didn’t have to hold anything back.

4. Imagine yourself as an African-American living in Harlem during this era. Do you think you would be excited and optimistic despite the many challenges you would experience?

A: Yes I would be excited because I would have options that I normally would have.

Category 2: Literature of the Harlem Renaissance
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5. What were some significant characteristics of the literary movement during the Harlem Renaissance, and how are they reflective of the culture of the period?

A: many unknown black people started to show up in literature and they showed how their people were treated even after slavery.

6. Describe the transformation from the "Old Negro" to the “New Negro.”
A: The old Negro is supposed to be ignorant, and unintelligent, while the new Negro is supposed to be educated and able to comprehend more things.
7. Which significant works/writers during the Harlem Renaissance would you say influenced or contributed to this transformation?
A: Langston Hughes and his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers were contributed to his transformation.

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8. How was Hughes poetry different than any other poetry of the time?  

A: He had an unique way of articulating the thoughts and feelings involved with the time.

9. Read the excerpt of the poem The Weary Blues.  How is this poem “Jazz poetry”?

A: this poem is jazz poetry because as it tells a story in poem form it also made the reader visualize what was being said.

10. Why did Hughes feel like he slept in “ten thousand beds?”  Do you think his childhood affected his poetry?

A: He felt like this because as a child he was constantly moving.
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11. How do you think Hughes' background - his education, his extensive travels, etc - influenced his works, and their often political nature?

A: I think his background influenced his work by having him know the right words to use because he was in the actual situation.

12. How did Hurston's academic background influence her literary works, and why is that important in terms of the Harlem Renaissance? A: It influenced her by letting her know what it was like to be black and get an education at this time.

Category 3: Music of the Harlem Renaissance
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13. Where was Jazz first documented? What is it a fusion of?

A: it was first documented in New Orleans, it is a fusion of blues and synoptic rhythms.

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14. Who did the “Harlem Stride Style" of piano help bridge?”  Why were these groups separating before they were bridged together with this music? A: The advent of the "Harlem Stride Style" of piano helped bridge the gulf between the "low life" culture as jazz musicians were perceived, and the black social elite.

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15. What were some venues that were perfect to play Jazz at?

A: At cotton club.
16. What were "Race Record" labels?  What did they do?

A: Labels that recorded black artist music to sell.

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17. What helped to popularize Jazz?  Why do you think this increased the popularity of Jazz? A: Apollo Theater, Cotton Club and live radio broadcasts popularized jazz, I think this made jazz popular because it was consistently being played so eventually they got used to it and started to like it.

18. Who was Duke Ellington? What was his contribution to the Harlem Renaissance? He was a composer and band leader, who established a residency at the Cotton Club, he was important because he became very popular among the community.

Category 4: Dance of the Harlem Renaissance
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19. What were "rent parties" and what role did they play in the lives of people living in Harlem during this period?

A: Rent parties were parties that were thrown to raise money for the host to pay rent.

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20. In what ways was the African-American dance culture of the Harlem Renaissance a response to the negative history of minstrelsy?

A: it helped to get others to stop doing blackface.

21. Who were some of the "Pioneers" of African-American dance during the Harlem Renaissance?  How did their work during this period help to recreate the public image of African-American culture?

A: Langston Hughes was a poet who changed the time by describing his views in a poetic way.

22. What did you find the most interesting about The Harlem Renaissance?

A: The music was interesting because it has no lyrics it’s just sound.

23. What area/topic/key fact would you be most interested in learning more about? A: I would be interested in learning more about the music of the time.

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