The poetry and novels of the Harlem Renaissance movement helped push black talent into the literary world nearly a century ago.
Next week, Paine College will celebrate those artists so their
works and teachings are never forgotten.
Paine will hold the 16th annual Harlem Renaissance Conference from Wednesday through Friday, at which 22 scholars from Georgia to Taiwan will discuss the people, ideas and lessons of the period.
“I think sometimes it’s just really important for us to have an understanding of the battles and the scholarship and the intentionality around what people went through making sure there was this strong, literary tradition,” said Catherine L. Adams, Paine’s humanities department chairwoman and the conference co-chairwoman. “We walk into places like Barnes & Noble or we pull up works on our Kindles, and we oftentimes miss that there are people who laid the foundation for those very contemporary works we see all the time.”
The Harlem Renaissance was a period of literary, musical, theatrical and cultural explosion in the black community after World War I, fueled by the migration of blacks from the South to urban areas in the North such as New York and Chicago.
Adams said this year’s theme of “Midwives and Mavericks: Architects, Artists and Critics of the Renaissance” will help celebrate some of the lesser-known writers of the period who are sometimes overshadowed by the Renaissance’s literary giants taught today.
She said the college is urging the public to attend any of the sessions over the three-day conference to take part in the discussion and celebration of these works.
The college is asking for $25 for admission, though Adams said no
one who can’t pay will be turned away.
Leonard Harris, a professor of philosophy at Purdue University, will be the keynote speaker. Presenters will discuss research, including black masculinity and the challenges to racial and cultural constructs during the Renaissance.
Scholars will discuss the works of Zora Neale Hurston, Jessie Redmon Fauset and Nella Larsen, among others.
The conference will kick off with a chapel assembly at 11 a.m. Wednesday and continue through Friday in the Candler Memorial Library.
“We want people to be able to soak up the information and learn,” Adams said.