Harlem Renaissance: NYPL Visit Response (Tues class)

Discuss a primary source (newspaper clipping, playbill, photograph, poster, etc.) from the Schomburg archive that caught your attention during the tour. For the sake of this exercise, do not discuss the film.

  1. Describe the archival object in as much detail as you can recall (name, production, location, date, etc.)
  2. Explain how this object relates to the driving force of the Harlem Renaissance; that is, an artistic movement by, for, and about African Americans (while rejecting negative stereotypes and African American identity as seen through the eyes of whites).

Harlem Renaissance: NYPL Visit Response (Thur section)

Discuss a primary source (newspaper clipping, playbill, photograph, poster, etc.) from the Schomburg archive that caught your attention during the tour. For the sake of this exercise, do not discuss the film.

  1. Describe the archival object in as much detail as you can recall (name, production, location, date, etc.)
  2. Explain how this object relates to the driving force of the Harlem Renaissance; that is, an artistic movement by, for, and about African Americans (while rejecting negative stereotypes and African American identity as seen through the eyes of whites).

List of required sketches (collected at the end of the semester)

Interior classroom
Greek skene and proskenion
Noh theatre sketch from the MET
Serlio’s Tragic Stage 
Urban plan around theatre (for Act I of research project)
Facade of theatre (for Act I of research project)
Appia’s Enchanted Forest
Sketch for class on Performative Architecture

Classroom images are on lecture slides: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1m3d0vJogglClt_yf_xNKAnyOF390e9tV?usp=sharing 

American Minstrelsy, Jazz and Dance (Tuesday section)

In this clip (beginning around 3:00 to the end) we see a stage performance at the famous Cotton Club in Harlem during the Jazz Age. The music is composed and performed by one of the most important jazz artists of all time, Duke Ellington. There is quite a lot to discuss about the dancing and character representations on stage. The line dancing and styles of footwork and rhythms are adaptations of the minstrel show — the “cakewalk” or “walk around” and “shuffle”. Out of the complex history of minstrelsy — a fraught combination of white masquerade and African American (and African) culture — emerged a popular form of entertainment: the American Musical. The “line dance” that is such a basic component of musical theater choreography can be traced, in fact, back to minstrelsy. 

You have read this article about the history of minstrelsy in the United States. Williams argues that by “blackening their faces and ‘performing color,’ African American minstrels were able to conceal their true identities while honing their craft as artists and serving their communities by becoming cultural ambassadors and building charitable organizations.” She also cites Overton Walker, who agrees that although African Americans were performing stereotypical acts that demeaned and mocked black Americans, when “a large audience leaves the theatre after a creditable two and a half hour performance by Negroes, I am sure the Negro race is raised in the estimation of the people….” In other words, although African American entertainers were performing stereotypes that reinforced racist attitudes towards blacks in America, there were also positive outcomes for African American performers and perhaps society as a whole.

Without agreeing or disagreeing with this particular historical analysis, I want you to think of an art form in the contemporary world that reworks or repossesses a discriminatory social practice or text (racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, etc.) in a new way in order to change its meaning. How does this act, song, work of art, or text reorganize, rework, reframe, or reuse the form of discrimination in order to create something more positive? What is the positive outcome? Support your response by using specific examples, descriptions and quotes.  

Once you have posted in your own thread, reply to other thread posts as they come in. Ideally, try to get into a conversation with one other person so that the discussion moves in a new direction. For full credit, post two replies minimum. Grading is based on originality and honesty. Back up your opinions with examples. Everyone’s response should be unique.