A Cross-Written Harlem Renaissance

Katharine Capshaw Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195379785
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 A Cross-Written Harlem Renaissance

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  • Literature
  • Children's Literature Studies
  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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This article opens up the literary, aesthetic, and cultural contexts of the Harlem Renaissance by discussing how children were imagined within this movement and by examining in particular Langston Hughes' The Dream Keeper (1932). It also argues that both literature and children were crucial vehicles for social change. Hughes' poetry collection, The Dream Keeper, is a landmark publication within the field of American children's literature. This collection contains poems that remain frequently anthologized, and reflects the genius of the artist and the range of his attention and productivity during the 1920s. It enables us to understand the significance of childhood to black cultural reinvention in the 1920s and 1930s. Additionally, the collection conveys the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance and speaks to the particular position of children within that movement. Hughes' poetry seeks to bridge divides between the old and the young, between the folk and the progressive.

Keywords: Dream Keeper; Langston Hughes; Harlem Renaissance; American children's literature; social change; black cultural reinvention

Article.  8456 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Children's Literature Studies ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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