Unit The Harlem Renaissance and Modernism
Name: Rodriguez
Essential Question: How did catastrophic historical events and rapid changes in society affect the writing of
this period?
Historical Context: A World at War
How was World War I
The Great War (1914-1918) was the most influential force on American
different from other wars?
Waged on a massive scale w/ new weapons ie. machine guns, poison gas,
bombers, subs
How was this a new era for
How did Prohibition affect
society during this period?
What were two main causes
of the Great Depression?
How was President
Roosevelt’s New Deal a
different approach to solving
the nation’s economic
People question whether they could believe in values such as courage,
glory, and honor
Jazz Age (The Roaring Twenties)
19th amendment gave women the right to vote
Flapper- women who embrace new fashions and urban attitude
Disillusionment = disappointment with traditional ways
Many writers (including men) lived abroad as expatriates
Prohibition (1920-1933) alcohol was made illegal. speakeasies were popular
and gangsters made fortunes running and supplying the clubs
The Great Depression
The stock market crash of 1929 and a severe drought in the early 30s led to
the depression; 1933 unemployment was at 25%
New Deal = idea that govt spending could help solve economic problems;
goal to revitalized the economy
Relief for homeless and hungry, recovery for agriculture and business,
various economic reform to present another depression; it was the massive
spending and production spurred by WWII that finally brought the
economic crisis to an end.
Dust Bowl = dust storms that damaged much of the Great Plains
Summary: American writers describe the catastrophic historical events and rapid societal change that
occurred in this period of American history. War, women’s roles and the role of government had a
tremendous impact on American culture at this time.
Unit 5
Section: Cultural Influences
Essential Question: How did mass culture and ideas that challenged traditional thought influence writers of
this time period?
What effect did advertising
have on Americans?
What influence did people
like Sigmund Freud, Karl
Marx, and Albert Einstein
have on American writers?
Cultural Influences: New Directions
Introduction of mass media and mass production – items that were once
luxuries are now viewed as necessities
Writers introduced new ideas about Psychology, Society, Science that
challenged the traditional views of Americans.
Freud - Stream of consciousness idea that unconscious forces drive
human beings and the key to understanding behavior is in this area
of the mind
Marx - history is a constant struggle between classes
Einstein – theory of relativity offered a new way to look @ the
Summary: Mass media and mass production greatly influenced American culture while Freud, Marx, and
Einstein influenced American writers.
Unit 5
Section: Modern Literature and the Harlem
Essential Question: What were the concerns of the poets at the beginning of the 20th century?
The New Poetry
How did poets and poetry
Poets began to challenge traditional thought
differ from previous forms?
What were some
Modernists responded to historical forces such as WWI and an increasing
characteristics of “modern”
mass society
Experimentation characterized modernism T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland”
Some poets rejected “modernist” trends and stayed traditional
Others embraced new trends:
– Challenged conventional thought
– Responded to historical forces
– Experimented with form (free verse)
What are characteristics of
Imagism: poetry should be expressed with the “rendering of concrete
Imagist poetry?
objects”; poetry recreates an image
Imagists favored free verse
•Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, T. S. Eliot
What are characteristics of
Objectivism: poetry should let objects speak for themselves; “no ideas but
objectivist poetry?
•William Carlos Williams
The Modern Short Story
Why did the short story
Popular because of the growth of American temperament (too impatient to
become popular in the early
read anything longer) growth of magazine production
20th century?
What did Stein mean when
World War I shook the ideological foundation of some young American
she called young American`
writers so profoundly that Gertrude Stein called them the “lost generation”;
a “lost generation?”
they felt lost because they were unsure what it meant to be an American
Wrote fragmented stories without a traditional beginning or ending
The Harlem Renaissance – “The Great Migration”
How did the neighborhood of A flowering of African American art; After WWI, many African Americans
Harm become a focal point
moved to urban centers like New York’s Harlem.
for African-American
Expression of what it meant to be black in a white-dominated world
– Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Zora
Neale Hurston, Claude McKay
More funds/sponsorships for minority artists
• Voices of the African American experience:
– music (blues, jazz) Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters
– poetry
– drama
– art
How did journalism
influence the literary scene?
Journalism turned from sensationalism
Writers honed their craft at newspapers and magazines
Hemingway, Porter, and Steinbeck reported on the day’s big news.
White, Thurber, and Parker built their reputations at The New Yorker (mag)
Came to an end with the Great Depression
Summary: Modernist poets saw mass society as a threat to individualism. Therefore, their poetry
emphasized experimentation and a rejection of past form in favor of new modes of expression. The Harlem
Renaissance was not just a literary movement; it was a time of extraordinary creativity in all of the arts.
Many American writers developed their craft by writing for newspapers and magazines.
Extra: (not in lit book) The American Dream – 3 Central Ideas
1. America seen as a “new Eden”
2. Optimism, opportunity, and abundance
3. Ultimate triumph of the individual
Unit The Harlem Renaissance and Modernism
Name: Rodriguez
Essential Question: How did catastrophic historical events and rapid changes in society affect the writing of
this period?
Historical Context: A World at War