The Romantic Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance: Concluding Thoughts
By Mary Arnold
Although in these articles, I focused on just a few elements of the Harlem Renaissance that I learned from my research, there is so much more to be discovered about this intense, vibrant period in American history. As I stated in my introduction, I knew very little about the Harlem Renaissance before beginning this quest, and there is much that I learned that was not included in these articles, e.g. the historical and social context that led to the Harlem Renaissance (increased number of lynchings and race riots, tightening of restrictions placed on blacks, the psychological effects of World War I on African Americans, etc.). Besides the people mentioned in this journal, I learned quite a bit about many other participants in the Harlem Renaissance that contributed greatly to the movement. I have included in an appendix a chronological list of the major works of the Harlem Renaissance, borrowed from Cary Wintz. Because of the limits of these articles, I had to neglect many of the people, white and black, who supported the young artists, with encouragement, subsidies, or living expenses. But these patrons, such as Charlotte Mason, played an important role in the Harlem Renaissance also and should not be buried in obscurity anymore than the artists. I have endeavored to give others an overview of the Harlem Renaissance in hopes to pique their interest as mine was. It is up to us to keep these artists from sinking into oblivion as many of them did at one time.
Let us not fail them.
It is an old platitude that the more one learns, the less one knows. This is undoubtedly true. I have learned quite a bit about the Harlem Renaissance, but through this research, I see that there is so much more that I do not know about it. This is not an end to my quest; I am now even more intrigued with this period of literary history. The artists that I have discussed in this journal are the ones that most interested me; therefore I plan to continue this discovery of the Harlem Renaissance by beginning with studying the works of those eight artists. I am particularly drawn to Zora Neale Hurston, so her novels and essays will be the first that I explore. I am also especially interested in Langston Hughes' and Wallace Thurman's works, but I hope to examine many others also, particularly Jessie Fauset, Nella Larsen, James Weldon Johnson, and Jean Toomer.
The primary issue that my research has interested me most is the theme of 'passing' and transgressing boundaries. This concept is not limited to people transgressing racial barriers, but could also be applied to social, economic, and gendered boundaries. Thus the issue takes on a broader context, one worth exploring in more detail. Why do people attempt to oppose boundaries, and what are the consequences if they do?
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