25 Module 5 Assessments

Module 5 Discussion: Climbing the Racial Mountain

Directions: Choose this link to access Module 5 Discussion: Climbing the Racial Mountain .

In his preface to The Book of American Negro Poetry, James Weldon Johnson describes the obstacles that face aspiring African American writers of his time. He suggests, “The Negro in the United States has achieved or been placed in a certain artistic niche. When he is thought of artistically, it is as a happy-go-lucky, singing, shuffling, banjo-picking being or as a more or less pathetic figure.” Do you think that similar racial stereotypes persist today? Why or why not? Can you provide examples of African American artists who challenge racial stereotypes in their work?

Submission: Reply to at least two other students, aiming to notice patterns, commonalities and interesting differences in our learning community. All posts should be written in complete sentences and are expected to meet the standards for college-level writing. Original posts should be at least five sentences in length; replies should be at least three sentences in length.

Grading: This discussion is worth 20 points toward your final grade and will be graded using the Discussion Rubric. Please use it as a guide toward successful completion of this discussion .

Journal 5: Music and the Harlem Renaissance

Directions: Choose this link to access Journal 5: Music and the Harlem Renaissance .

In the learning unit for this module, the Harlem Renaissance was described not only as a literary movement but as an artistic movement included the fine arts and music. In terms of the it most longstanding cultural legacy, the music of the Harlem Renaissance has had perhaps the most significant influence on American popular culture. The 1920s was also known as the Jazz Age, and Influential musical artists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington, to name only a few, became popular among white audiences. Meanwhile, African American composers such as Florence Beatrice Price and William Grant Still made important contributions to the world of classical music. All of these artists drew upon the rich musical tradition of spirituals, work songs, and gospel music in order to create a unique form modern American music.

In this journal entry, you will respond to two poems – one by by poet James Weldon Johnson and another of your chosing. Along with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, he compiled the lyrics for over a hundred traditional spirituals in two volumes – The Book of American Negro Spirituals (1925) and The Second Book of Negro Spirituals. Johnson’s poetry was heavily by the spiritual tradition. After reading his poem “O Black and Unknown Bards” (see the Module 5 Readings), search the internet for examples of African American spirituals, focusing on their lyrical as well as their musical content. Next compose a journal entry in which you describe the relationship between Johnson’s poem and one spiritual of your choosing. Does Johnson borrow lines, images, or themes from specific spirituals? Does Johnson address a certain theme or idea in his poetry that is also reflected in the spiritual you’ve chosen?

Submission: To submit your entry, choose the link titled, Journal 5: Music and the Harlem Renaissance , above. Choose the “Create Journal Entry” button and complete your entry using the text editor box. Include hyperlinks to relevant texts, videos, or images. Also consider embedding images or videos in your entry to make it more interactive. Be sure to give your entry a title and complete your submission by choosing the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

Grading: This assignment is worth 10 points and will be graded using the Journal Rubric. Please use it as a guide toward successful completion of this assignment .

Essay 5: Zora Neale Hurston and Black Experience in America

Directions: Zora Neale Hurston is perhaps one of the mostly widely read authors associated with the Harlem Renaissance – Their Eyes Were Watching God is her most well-known work. However, during her own lifetime, Hurston was a very controversial figure. Her work was often considered to be too “black” for many white publishers who shunned her realistic portrayals of African American life, particularly in the South. When Their Eyes Were Watching God was first published, the influential black novelist Richard Wright criticized Hurston, stating that “Miss Hurston voluntarily continues in her novel the tradition which was forced upon the Negro in theater, that is, the minstrel technique that makes ‘white folks’ laugh.” The black minstrel shows of the nineteenth and early twentieth century mainly consisted of white actors playing the role of black people. Their comedy was based on racist stereotypes and portrayals of black people as ignorant and buffoonish. Occasionally black actors would be cast in the shows, and there were even some all black minstrel groups. To a certain extent, it is true that Hurston worked in the black minstrel tradition. The question is whether or not her work in this tradition remains connected to racial stereotyping. Or perhaps it represents a sophisticated effort to reappropriate black culture, while also enticing white audiences to pay for productions which they perceived to be extensions of the more racist minstrel shows with which they were more familiar.

In order to gain a better understanding of Hurston’s complex relationship to her own racial and cultural identity, you will first read an essay about how Hurston came to study anthropology and ethnography (see “The Wellspring of Zora Neale Hurston’s Creative Imagination” in the Module 5 Readings). After reading this essay, you will read and/or listen to “Lawing and Jawing” (see the Module 5 Readings and the Module 5 Introduction).

In your essay, you will consider Hurston’s portrayal of black culture in her one-act play. Do you tend to agree with Richard Wright’s characterization of Hurston’s work? In this play, is she simply perpetuating racist stereotypes of black people? Why or Why not? Additionally, you might consider examining what aspects of the play seem to offer a more complex portrayal of black culture. Are there aspects of the play in which you can see her effort to capture the creativity and adaptability of black language?

Submission: Post the assignment using the Essay 5: Zora Neale Hurston and Black Experience in America link above. Use the “Browse My Computer” button in the Attach File area to attach your document. Be sure to complete your submission by choosing the “Submit” button at the bottom of the screen.

Grading: This assignment is worth 80 points and will be graded using the Essay rubric. Please use it as a guide to successful completion of this assignment .


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