"Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferrals of information." -Paulo Friere

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Harlem Renaissance Project

10th graders,

Zora Neal Hurston's novel was just one of the many influential pieces of art to come out of the Harlem Renaissance. Your project is to choose one other writer, visual artist, or musician to research. On our new class blog, you will write a blog post explaining your research. Later, other students will read your post and respond. Maybe students from other schools will even find your work on the internet and use it when they learn about this topic!

Include your name and the name of the work you're analyzing in the title of the post.
Within the post, include the following:

Part 1: A biography of the artist. (300 words) Answer the following questions:

  • What are the most interesting and important parts of the artist's life? 
  • How did racism directly or indirectly impact the artist?
  • What music, writing, etc influenced the artist's work? 
  • What later art or music or writing was influenced by this artist?

Please use at least two reliable websites to find your information. Include at least 2 quotes in your biography, and be sure to cite your sources any time you get information from them, including when you put it in your own words. Your citations should be in MLA format. Try to make your writing interesting, while still including the most important information about your artist.

Part 2: Choose one piece of work that your artist did. This can be a single song, poem, novel, play, painting, etc. Link to a page that features that work. If it's a song, a link to the audio or video of the song.

Part 3: Response to the art: (300 words)

  • Main theme or message of the work.
  • Interesting literary or musical features of the work. This includes figurative language or sensory imagery, but also many other features. You should explain the impact of these features on the meaning of the art, just like you do with our literature.
  • Your personal evaluation/response to the work: what do you like about it? What other art does it remind you of?
You are not required to cite any sources for Part 3 if you do all your response without looking at anyone else's analysis of the work. However, if you DO use others' ideas, you must cite them. No plagiarizing!

 Part 4: Works Cited Page
Write an MLA formatted works cited page that includes your two or more sources. This of course will not be a separate page. It will just be at the bottom of your blog post.

Here are some great resources:

Harlem Renaissance Materials at the Library of Congress


There are many more reputable places to find information about your artist and their work. You may start at Wikipedia, but you cannot quote it. You need to go to sources sponsored by universities or organizations in order to find reliable information. Have fun!

List of Artists to research:


Countee Cullen
Arna Bontemps
Claude McKay
James Weldon Johnson
Jean Toomer
Paul Laurence Dunbar


Billie Holiday
Duke Ellington
Count Basie
Louis Armstrong
Lil Armstrong
Bessie Smith
Ella Fitzgerald
Dizzy Gillespie
Thelonious Monk
Earl "Fatha" Hines
Jelly Roll Morton
Fletcher Henderson
Josephine Baker
Billy Strayhorn
Mamie Smith
Ivie Anderson
Lena Horne
Roland Hayes
Lucille Bogan
Bill Robinson
The Nicholas Brothers
Marian Anderson
Ethel Waters
Fats Waller
James P. Johnson
Noble Sissle

Visual Artists: 

Lois Mailou Jones
William H. Johnson
Jacob Lawrence
Aaron Douglas
Archibald Motley
Charles Alston
Henry Bannarn
Augusta Savage

You will choose one writer, musician, or visual artist in class on Monday. You can do some preliminary research before then if you wish to make a more informed choice.


Tues, Dec 13--computer lab, research
Wed, Dec 14--computer lab, research + rough draft
Friday, Dec 16--computer lab, finish writing and revise. 

Post your finished blog post by Tuesday, Dec 20. Make sure you have revised your work: you will be graded by the same research rubric as your last research writing assignment.


Here are the directions for how to comment on each other's writing.

1. I will assign you one person to comment on, and then you must also choose 2 other essays to comment on, for a total of 3 comments.

2. Your comments should include three specific suggestions and one complement. Each of these 4 parts should be a short paragraph.

3. Your suggestions must be kind, and must quote the post you are commenting on.

4. Please refer to the research essay rubric  in your comments. You should comment on different aspects of the paper--not only on grammar, but also on sentence structure, ideas, etc.

5. Your suggestions are very specific, but your complement can be about anything in the paper that you think they did well. Refer to the rubric.

6. You will be graded on your comments: on your thoroughness, kindness, and independence of thought.


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