"A Veritable Little Harlem": The New Negro Renaissance in the American West
A Lecture by Emily Lutenski
Location: Stanhope Hall 201
Date/Time: 04/02/12 at 12:00 pm - 04/02/12 at 1:20 pm
This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served. Space is limited to 20 people. Please contact Jennifer Loessy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-258-3216 to reserve a space at this lecture.
In 1923, Langston Hughes won an undergraduate poetry prize in Palms for A House in Taos. He became one of the most storied figures of the Harlem Renaissance, but this poem is far removed from the brownstone apartments and clubs of Lenox Avenue. It describes, instead, the high desert of New Mexico.
During this period, the American West, and particularly the Southwestern borderlands, occupied a central place in the work of Anglo writers and artists like Willa Cather or Georgia OKeeffe, who sought inspiration in Mexican and Native American arts and folkways. African Americans, however, are often left out of this landscape, an absence that persists despite engagement with the region not only by Hughes, but also by Arna Bontemps, Wallace Thurman, Jean Toomer, Anita Scott Coleman, and other writers traditionally associated with Harlems New Negro Movement. Turning towards this literary and cultural history, A Veritable Little Harlem positions the New Negro in the geographical and ethnic context of the trans-American West, complicating central paradigms of black diaspora by locating it in the borderlands.
Emily Lutenski received her Ph.D. in English and Womens Studies from the University of Michigan in 2008. Before coming to CAAS, she served as an Instructor in Ethnic Studies and Affiliated Faculty in Womens Studies at Bowling Green State University. Her teaching and research focus on 20th century American literature, with emphasis in comparative ethnic literatures and cultures, gender and feminist studies, and modernism.
While at CAAS, Emily will continue work on her book manuscript, Beyond Harlem: New Negro Cartographies of the American West, which is under contract with the University Press of Kansas for the CultureAmerica series, edited by Erika Doss and Philip J. Deloria. This project introduces African American writers to the scope of the American West in the early 20th century, calling into question the geographical limits urban, Atlantic of the New Negro. By locating modern African American literature the unexpected geography of the American West, Beyond Harlem rethinks tropes of black diaspora by considering the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing central paradigms of black studies into conversation with Chicana/o studies.
Emily has published essays in MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States and Western American Literature, and has work forthcoming in SAIL: Studies in American Indian Literatures. Her essay from MELUS, A Small Man in Big Spaces: The New Negro, the Mestizo, and Jean Toomers Southwestern Writing, was recently reprinted in Cane: A Norton Critical Edition, edited by Rudolph P. Byrd and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
After concluding her fellowship, Emily will begin her appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at Saint Louis University.
Department: Center for African American Studies