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Nov. 15 salon series lecture at APSU to discuss Harlem Renaissance

10/24/2011

          CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In the early 20th century, some of the country’s leading African American writers – including Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes and Claude McKay – found a home for their works in the influential journal, “The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races.”

            The magazine’s long-serving editor, W.E.B. Du Bois, the first African-American Ph.D. graduate of Harvard University, championed these writers, ushering in that pivotal period in American literature known as the Harlem Renaissance. But what many people don’t realize is that the literary movement was born out of the strained relationships between these writers, Du Bois and the journal’s white benefactors.

          At 5 p.m. on Nov. 15, Dr. Brian Johnson, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Austin Peay State University, will bring to light this otherwise unknown dynamic within the highly acclaimed Harlem Renaissance period at the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts’ Fall Salon Series, in the campus’ Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center.

            “Among many other significant historical monikers, Dr. Du Bois was also known as the 'dean of Negro literature', and what we now know as the Harlem Renaissance was actually given birth within the pages of ‘Crisis,’” Johnson said.           

           Johnson is the editor and author of two books on W.E.B. Du Bois, “Du Bois on Reform: Periodical-based Leadership for African Americans” (2005) and “W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward Agnosticism” (2008), and a former fellow within the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for the Study of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
            His Nov. 15 lecture is free and open to the public. The Center hosts the Salon Series once a month during the fall and spring semesters, featuring distinguished local scholars, artists and arts organizations, followed by refreshments and good conversations.

            “I am thrilled that Dr. Johnson, one of the leading scholars in the country on Du Bois, will be presenting on an important and little understood artistic movement,” Christopher Burawa, director of the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts, said. “Many of the acclaimed inventions of literary Modernism have their origins within the Harlem Renaissance, and in the ideas of Du Bois.”

            For more information on the salon, contact the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 931-221-7876.