Echoes of The Harlem Renaissance: Urban Landscape and Jazz Musıc In Toni Morrison’s Jazz, Walter Dean Myers’s Harlem Summer and Persia Walker’s Black Orchid Blues
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The Great Migration of the 1910s in the US resulted in a concentration of African American population in the North, which gave way to a considerable demographical change that took place especially in Harlem, New York. The migrants who fled from the South due to severe racial discrimination and economic problems saw the new urban environment as a cultural mecca for African American literature and arts, and the artistic and literary movement that defined this attitude was called the Harlem Renaissance or the New Negro movement. Distinctively African American forms of art in music and literature emerged as the new forms of self-expression for the discriminated and segregated community, which suffered in the hands of the Southern landowners before the migration. To reemphasize the inspirational legacy of African American modernity in the 1920s together with the conflicts and problems, this thesis aims to analyze Toni Morrison’s Jazz (1992), Walter Dean Myers’s Harlem Summer (2007) and Persia Walker’s Black Orchid Blues (2011) in regards to music and urbanization. Chapter I of this study will focus on the structure of language and plot personified as jazz music and the cityscape in Toni Morrison’s Jazz. Chapter II will analyze jazz music and the city as reflected on the historical consciousness of the characters in Myers’s Harlem Summer. Chapter III will focus on jazz music and urban landscape as a state of mind that reflects the human condition of the Harlem Renaissance period in Persia Walker’s Black Orchid Blues. All three novels, however different they may be in their methods and means of presentation of jazz music and its landscape, share a common ground in their representation of jazz music and landscape as formative powers in the making of the cultural atmosphere of the era. Although the Harlem Renaissance seemingly disappeared in the Great Depression era starting from 1929s, it continued to live in the imaginations of new generation of novelists as an inspirational subject revisited in the 1990s and the 2000s.
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