MSA 14: Harlem SpectaclesIn the chapter âSpectacles in Colorâ in his autobiography The Big Sea, Langston Hughes describes the famous Hamilton Club Lodge Ball as the âStrangest and gaudiest of all Harlem spectacles.â For Hughes, the ball where âmen dress as women and women dress as menâ is representative of Harlem life in the 1920âs. After positioning the drag ball within the broader context of Harlem lifeâincluding Countee Cullenâs wedding and the church services of Rev. Dr. BectonâHughes comes to the conclusion that âHarlem likes spectacles of one kind or another.â
Recent scholarship has begun to examine the Harlem Renaissance in light of these types of spectacle. This focus on Harlemâs spectacular quality in the 1920âs has expanded previous understandings of the Harlem Renaissance, exploring it in terms of a dynamic interplay between various sexual and racial identities. Due to the unique spatiotemporal conditions of Harlem in the 1920âs as a site of migration for rural African Americans and a popular destination for whites escaping Prohibition, Harlem can be read as providing a space for interplay between various social groups, sexual identities, and ethnicities. Contemporary criticism reveals that the Harlem Renaissanceâs artistic output is, in part, a product of these urban confluences. Moreover, this dynamic confrontation is apparent in the kinds of spectacles Harlem enjoys. Papers should expand upon this role of spectacle in Harlemâs historical, social, or artistic productions.
Please send abstract (250 words) to Matthew Hannah (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include a brief bio. Deadline is April 1st.
Approaches could include:
Conference Location: Las Vegas, USA
Conference Starts: October 18, 2012
Conference Ends: October 21, 2012
CFP Submission Deadline: April 01, 2012
For more information, contact: Matthew Hannah