Response Paper One: Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance

Pick one of these question and respond with 500 words

Question One: Look at “The Weary Blues” and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” Both poems are about black culture but in very different ways. Discuss the different ways that each poem engages with the concept of “negritude” or black identity. Please be sure to provide specific examples from the text as support. How do these poems relate to the idea of double-consciousness as explained by DuBois?

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Question Two: Re-read the excerpt from Dubois and then briefly summarize his concept of “double consciousness.” Afterwards explain the way that Cullen’s poem “Incident” engages with this idea.

Question Three: Consider McKay’s “America.” How would you describe the poem’s depiction of its subject (America)? Choose any one adjective and defend your choice through a close reading of the poem. Possible adjectives include: “celebratory,” “hostile,” “angry,” “mournful,” “ambivalent,” etc.

Question Four: Noticeably absent from much of the poetry of high modernism was any discussion of work or labor. Jean Toomer’s poetry, on the other hand is filled with description of industrial and agricultural workers. From “The Reapers” to “Georgia Dusk,” Toomer patiently describes in great detail the emotional and physical toll of such labor. For this response I want you to look closely at all of Toomer’s poems and answer the question: “what do these poems say about the nature of work or labor?” Try your best to formulate a specific argument and thesis statement in response to this question.

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