Ch 6: African American Writers

About This Chapter

Watch the following video lessons and learn about African Americans writers of various periods, from the Jazz Age up through contemporary times. These lessons are just a portion of our online study guide and video collection.

African American Writers - Chapter Summary and Objectives

You've probably heard of the Renaissance period, but have you ever learned about the Harlem Renaissance? In this chapter, you can meet many authors of that period and find out about their novels, essays and poetry. Find out what influenced and inspired the novels, stories and poems. Bringing your literary knowledge up to current day, you can also explore the lives and works of several well-known contemporary authors. This chapter can help you understand the following:

  • The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s
  • The influence of the Jazz Age on the Harlem Renaissance
  • W.E.B. Du Bois's connection to the NAACP
  • Slavery's effects on Frederick Douglass's writing
  • The roles of race and gender in Zora Neale Hurston's writing
  • The importance of dreams in Langston Hughes's poetry
  • The duality of the African American experience in Claude McKay's poems

Video Objectives
The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age This lesson describes the Jim Crow laws and explains the influence of the Jazz Age on the Harlem Renaissance.
Frederick Douglass: Narrative and Style Learn about slavery's effects on this author's writings, and get introduced to The Slave Narratives.
W.E.B. Du Bois: Literature and Political Influence Understand 'double consciousness' and W.E.B.'s connection to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Countee Cullen's Role in the Harlem Renaissance: An Analysis of Heritage Explore Cullen's poetry and discuss common themes.
Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God: Summary and Analysis Find out about the roles of gender and race in this book.
Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age Analyze two of Langston Hughes's most celebrated poems and the importance of 'dreams' in his poetry.
Claude McKay: Role in Harlem Renaissance & 'America' Analysis Delve into two well-known poems by Claude McKay and understand the duality of the African American experience.
Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man Summary and Analysis Examine the themes in The Invisible Man.
Richard Wright's Black Boy: Summary and Analysis Explore the influences of this Richard Wright's writing.
Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Poetry Grasp the significance of Maya Angelou's struggles and how she poured herself into her writings.
Contemporary African American Writers: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and James Baldwin Meet several of today's most influential African American authors. Explore examples of their works.

10 Lessons in Chapter 6: African American Writers
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

1. The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

The Harlem Renaissance was a movement in the 1920s and 1930s during which there was an explosion of African-American art and literature. This lesson looks at the themes, causes, and important figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

Frederick Douglass: Narrative and Style

2. Frederick Douglass: Narrative and Style

In this lesson, we will learn about Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement in the United States. In addition, we will examine his written work, most notably his first autobiography - ''Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.''

Countee Cullen's Role in the Harlem Renaissance: An Analysis of Heritage

3. Countee Cullen's Role in the Harlem Renaissance: An Analysis of Heritage

The Harlem Renaissance exposed the world to everyone from W.E.B. DuBois to Ella Fitzgerald. In this lesson, we'll explore one of the movement's most iconic and resonant poems, Countee Cullen's 'Heritage.'

Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: Summary & Analysis

4. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: Summary & Analysis

Zora Neale Hurston's novel 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' is a famous Harlem Renaissance novel that examines race and gender issues through the eyes of its main character, Janie Crawford. This lesson gives a synopsis of the novel and examines how it approaches race and gender.

Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

5. Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

Langston Hughes was a popular poet from the Harlem Renaissance. His Jazz Age poems, including 'Harlem' and 'I, Too, Sing America,' discussed the racism facing African Americans in the 1920s and '30s.

Claude McKay: Role in Harlem Renaissance & 'America' Analysis

6. Claude McKay: Role in Harlem Renaissance & 'America' Analysis

Claude McKay was an influential Harlem Renaissance poet. His poems 'America' and 'If We Must Die' explored the complicated relationship African Americans had with the world around them.

Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man Summary and Analysis

7. Ralph Ellison: Invisible Man Summary and Analysis

If people only see you as a part of a race, and not as an individual, are you still a person? In this lesson, we'll analyze Ralph Ellison's important and critically acclaimed novel, 'Invisible Man.'

Richard Wright's Black Boy: Summary and Analysis

8. Richard Wright's Black Boy: Summary and Analysis

After his fiction masterpiece 'Native Son,' Richard Wright wrote a deeply personal and moving autobiography, covering his childhood in the South and his life as an adult in Chicago. In this lesson, we'll explore 'Black Boy.'

Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Poetry

9. Maya Angelou: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Poetry

'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings' is the autobiography of American poet Maya Angelou. While the story is often difficult to read, it shows how a strong person can overcome difficult obstacles and achieve great things. Learn more about the inspiring life story of one of the country's greatest writers.

Contemporary African American Writers: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin

10. Contemporary African American Writers: Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, James Baldwin

In this lesson, we will look at the role of contemporary African American writing. The focus will be on authors Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and James Baldwin.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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