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  • Fine Clothes to the Jew ByLangston Hughes I, II, and III of III

    The Characteristics of Negro ExpressionByZora Neale Hurston

  • Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)1) The volume, today generally ranked among Hughess finest, was a dramatic failure, but was not without its champions.The volumes components all speak to what Hughes sees as constitutive elements of Negro culture and art in America (blues, Afro-Christianity, the labor and exploitation of the Black proletariat, etc.), and is notably bracketed by blues sequences.True Negro Art?Proletarian Poetry?Race-Proud Poetry?Documentary Poetry?Invention of a New Genre?

  • The Critical Reception of Fine Clothes to the Jew: Controversy, Common Speech, and CatastropheThe publication of his Fine Clothes to the Jew in the opening months of 1927 had resulted in a spectacular failure, as the vast majority of literary critics on both sides of the color line excoriated the volume.

    2) On February 5, William M. Kelly, leading the charge from black critics, and denounced the volume as about 100 pages of trash that reeked of the gutter and the sewer. Hughes depiction of such taboo themes as miscegenation, prostitution, and black despondencyas well as his employment of so-called black dialect in verse forms patterned after those of the traditional bluespandered to what Kelly saw as a white taste for the sensational.

  • The Critical reception of Fine Clothes to the Jew: The Birth of a New Verse Form1) The volume, today, is generally ranked among Hughess finest, and was not without its champions.2) Hughess use of common speech was several times compared to that of Paul Laurence Dunbar (one of Hughess acknowledged influences) and to that of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Howard Mumford Jones, inaugurating the present-day critical chorus, credited Hughes with nothing less than the contribution of a new verse form in the English Language.

  • Langston Hughes, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain Nation 122 (June 23, 1926): 692-941) Socio-economic factors do indeed play an important, and at times determining, role in the artistic production of the American Negro.2) However, these very same socio-economic factors have, over time, given rise to (and perpetuated) a nearly irreducible cultural difference between whites and blacks that cannot be trumped by class alone.3) The fact that middle- and upper-class Negroes both ape American culture and are ashamed of the artistic and cultural production of the black masses bares witness to this irreducible difference. Moreover, it is this inferiority complex that constitutes the racial mountain that must be climbed if the Negro artist is to discover himself and his people.4) The cultural production of the black masseswhich also constitutes their social fabrichas been and is being mined (with the advent of the New Negro) to produce art that has been and will be acclaimed internationally as separate and distinct from so-called American Art both because it is produced by Negroes who have resisted American standardization.5) The cultural production of the black masses is indeed rooted in the inherent expressions of Negroes in America and in the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul, but this inherent or eternal quality is not a function of racial essentialism. Rather, it is the product of historical circumstancethe manifestation of revolt against the oppressiveness of the white world.6) Thus, true Negro art is (and will be) the product of Negro artists who are not ashamed of their races individuality, and who recognize that true negro artart mined from the cultural production of the Negro massesis governed by what might be labeled proto-black-nationalist criterion that need not and is not concerned with the criterion that governs the artistic production of American Standardization.

  • Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)1) The volume, today generally ranked among Hughess finest, was a dramatic failure, but was not without its champions.The volumes components all speak to what Hughes sees as constitutive elements of Negro culture and art in America (blues, Afro-Christianity, the labor and exploitation of the Black proletariat, etc.), and is notably bracketed by blues sequences.True Negro Art?Proletarian Poetry?Race-Proud Poetry?Documentary Poetry?Invention of a New Genre?

  • The Blues According to Langston Hughes

    Oh, the sun is so hot, and the day is so doggone long

    Yes, the sun is so hot, and the day is so doggone long

    And that is the reason Im singin this doggone song

  • Blues

  • Hey!Talking Points

  • Po Boy BluesTalking Points

  • Homesick BluesTalking Points

  • Railroad Avenue

  • Brass Spittoons:Proletarian Poetry?Talking Points

  • Ruby BrownTalking Points

  • Elevator BoyTalking Points

  • Glory! Hallelujah!

  • Prayer and Prayer MeetingTalking Points

  • Feet o JesusTalking Points

  • Beal Street Love

  • Beale Street LoveTalking Points

  • CoraTalking Points

  • Black GalTalking Points

  • From the Georgia Roads

  • MulattoTalking Points

  • Laughers

  • And Blues

  • Lament Over LoveTalking Points

  • Listen Here BluesTalking Points

  • Hey! Hey! Talking Points

  • Feet o JesusTalking PointsWhat is the rhetorical effect produced by the personas use of the phrase ma little Jesus? How does it make us rethink the first stanza? What do you make of the personas shifting height vis--vis Jesus? Is Jesus infantilized in this poem? If so, to what effect?How would you describe the irony of the last line? Is it multiple? If so, how do these multiple ironies complement one another?

  • Beal Street Love

  • Beale Street, Memphis

    In the early 1900s, Beale Street was filled with clubs, restaurants and shops, many of them owned by African-Americans. In 1889, NAACP co-founder Ida B. Wells was a co-owner and editor of an anti-segregationist paper called Free Speech based on Beale. Beale Street Baptist Church, Tennessee's oldest surviving African American Church edifice built in 1864, was also important in the early civil rights movement in Memphis.

    In 1905, Mayor Thornton was looking for a music teacher for his Knights of Pythias Band and called Tuskegee Institute to talk to his friend, Booker T. Washington, who recommended a trumpet player in Clarksdale, Mississippi, named W. C. Handy. Mayor Thornton contacted Mr. Handy, and Memphis became the home of the famous musician who created the "Blues on Beale Street". Mayor Thornton and his three sons also played in Handy's band.

    In 1909, W. C. Handy wrote "Mr. Crump" as a campaign song for political machine leader E. H. Crump. The song was later renamed "The Memphis Blues". Handy also wrote a song called "Beale Street Blues" in 1916 which influenced the change of the street's name from Beale Avenue to Beale Street. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King, Rufus Thomas, Rosco Gordon and other blues and jazz legends played on Beale Street and helped develop the style known as Memphis Blues. As a young man, B.B. King was billed as "the Beale Street Blues Boy".

    On December 15, 1977, Beale Street was officially declared the Home of the Blues by an act of Congress.

  • Evil WomanTalking Points

    1) What seems to turn the Good gal in the first stanza into the Evil Woman invoked in the title?2) How would you describe the personas character? Would you set-him up with a friend?3) Given the personas character, what do you make of his rationale for sending this woman on back? 4) Where does hate lie in this poem? Solely with the personas hate? From elsewhere? 5) What is the rhetorical effect of that which is not said in this poem?

  • Beale Street LoveTalking Points

    Here, and elsewhere, Hughes often disguises the personae who inhabit his poetry only to reveal their identity in the poems final line. What do you make of the phrase Says Clorinda? Does it identify the speaker?If Clorinda is the speaker of the poem, how would you situate her self-hatred vis--vis both the perennial blues theme of a no good woman and the poems title?How does time work in this poem, especially in regard to the peronas use of verb tense?What is the rhetorical effect of Hughess use of punctuation in this poem?

  • Black GalTalking Points

    Describe the dilemma faced by the poems persona. What do you make of the personas decision to reserve all her anger for the yaller gal and none for Albert Johnson?Does the persona seems to be making good choices here? What effect is produced by the phrase brownskin boy? Does it play a role in the personas decision to take Albert back?To what intra-group prejudice might this poem be said to allude? What do the totality of the personas machinations suggest about this prejudice?

  • From the Georgia Roads

  • Jazz BandTaking Points1) How is this Jazz Band being positioned in this poem, especially given the fact that it is presented in a sequence heavily concerned with themes of race-mixing and sexual exploitation?2) What is the rhetorical effect produced by the phrase Even if you do come from Georgia?3) How many speakers inhabit this poem? What are the seven languages?4) What do you make of Hughess decision to end the poem by deploying black dialect? Are we being introduced to the speaker at this moment in the poem? If so, how does that recast his previous exhortations to the jazz band?5) How would you situate the polemic of this poem vis-a-vis those of black internationalism?

  • MulattoTalking Points1)What do

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