When African American intellectuals announced the birth of the "New Negro" around the turn of the twentieth century, they were attempting through a bold act of renaming to change the way blacks were depicted and perceived in America. By challenging stereotypes of the Old Negro, and declaring that the New Negro was capable of high achievement, black writers tried to revolutionize how whites viewed blacks--and how blacks viewed themselves. Nothing less than a strategy to re-create the public face of "the race," the New Negro became a dominant figure of racial uplift between Reconstruction and World War II, as well as a central idea of the Harlem, or New Negro, Renaissance. Edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Gene Andrew Jarrett, The New Negro collects more than one hundred canonical and lesser-known essays published between 1892 and 1938 that examine the issues of race and representation in African American culture.
These readings--by writers including W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Alain Locke, Carl Van Vechten, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright--discuss the trope of the New Negro, and the milieu in which this figure existed, from almost every conceivable angle. Political essays are joined by essays on African American fiction, poetry, drama, music, painting, and sculpture. More than fascinating historical documents, these essays remain essential to the way African American identity and history are still understood today.
"Because 'New Negro' is really just a catchprase for the capacious topic of race in America, this is less an anthology than a mix of articles, criticism, essays, theories, calls to action and commentary by people both black and white, ranging from the famous (Richard Wright, James Weldon Johnson, H.L. Mencken) to those lesser known but prominent in their time (Alain Locke). The result is a spirited...dialectic tracing the most intense period of New Negro discussions, between 1892 and 1938."--Erin Aubry Kaplan, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Recent years have seen an explosion of writings on the so-called new Negro. . . . Now Gates and Jarrett lend their considerable voices to the discussion. Including an excellent introduction that situates the debate, this anthology collects some 100 essays on the trope of the new Negro between 1892 and 1938, years that broadly encompass the period known as the Harlem Renaissance. . . . The book covers not only literature but also music, theater, and the fine arts and convincingly links them with social and political happenings of the period. . . . [O]verall this is a masterful piece of work."--L. J. Parascandola, Long Island University, for CHOICE
"The New Negro is a valuable collection of essays that is accessible to scholars, teachers, and those generally interested in African-American history. When placed within the context of recent New Negro scholarship, the anthology reinforces the need to expand the depth and breadth of research into Post-Reconstruction representations of race in African-American culture."--Gabriel A. Briggs, Callaloo
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: