Revisiting the Harlem Renaissance

When: Thursday, April 22, 2021, 5:30pm
Price: Entire Course: $120 & up, Single Session: $35 & up
jeffe lecture carousel

The Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Distinguished Lectures in Urban History

Dr. Jeffrey C. Stewart leads a four-part series of live virtual talks about the Harlem Renaissance. Each session will begin with an illustrated presentation by Dr. Stewart exploring a different facet of the Renaissance, followed by a conversation with a special guest (and time at the end for Q & A).

African American art and literature found a garden in 1920s Harlem in which to flower and bloom.  Often narrated as an Eden in the midst of a segregated, homophobic America, Harlem offered for a time the possibility that a life devoted to Beauty was possible for Black people and fellow travelers in Harlem.  By the mid-1930s, the harsh reality of racism, systemic inequality, and economic decline took its toll on that vision.  Nonetheless, for a brief moment in historical time, Black elegance and the Black bottom converged in cabarets, speakeasies, nightclubs, and apartments to create the conditions for a collective life devoted to literature and art. 

These halcyon days were called the renaissance by the African American philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke, and for four Thursdays in April-May 2021, Dr. Jeffrey Stewart will lead a course revisiting this moment in history, accompanied by a coterie of guests, experts, and artists.  We’ll learn of the philosophy of life and art that launched it, see its effects in our contemporary culture, and understand why it had to end.   

This series is part of our annual Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Distinguished Lectures in Urban History series, in which leading observers apply insights from disciplines including history, archaeology, sociology, and architecture to examine the evolution of New York City's five boroughs.  

Join us for all four sessions, or purchase individual session tickets. Please note that each event will run between 75 minutes to 90 minutes. 

SESSION I: Introduction: Art is Philosophy  
Thursday, April 22, 5:30 - 7:00pm ET
with Harlem "style intellectual" Lana Turner

SESSION II: Poetry and the New Negro Literacy
Thursday, April 29, 5:30 - 7:00pm ET

SESSION III: Visual Arts and Black Design
Thursday, May 6, 5:30 - 7:00pm ET
with artist and art historian Margaret Vendryes (CUNY)
SESSION IV: The Science of Society and a Dream Deferred
Thursday, May 13, 5:30 - 7:00pm ET

Additional guests to be announced, check back for updates!

About the Instructor:
Jeffrey C. Stewart is a professor in the Department of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Previously, he was director of research at the Smithsonian Institution's Anacostia Museum, a guest curator at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, and a senior advisor to the Reginald Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland. The author of numerous articles, essays, and books, Stewart has taught at Harvard University, Yale University, UCLA, Tufts University, Howard University, Scripps College, and George Mason University before coming to the University of California, Santa Barbara as professor and chair of the Department of Black Studies from 2008-2016. His book, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press and has won the 2018 National Book Award in Nonfiction, the 2019 James A. Rawley Prize of the Organization of American Historians, 2019 Mark Lynton History Prize of the Nieman Foundation and Columbia School of Journalism, the 2019 American Book Award, and the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Biography.

About the Guest Speakers:

Lana Turner, a native of New York’s Harlem, is a reader, writer, thinker and researcher with a keen interest in the elements of art and style in black culture and why this meditation matters. Turner works as a real estate professional, archivist, and produces chamber music salons and literary events. She is co-founder and chair of The Literary Society (1982), a New York City book discussion group based in Harlem.

Margaret Rose Vendryes is a black, queer, radical artist historian with an active studio practice in Southeast Queens, New York City.  Born in Jamaica, WI and primarily raised in New York City, she completed her BA in fine arts at Amherst College, MA in art history at Tulane University, and PhD at Princeton University. Vendryes is the author of the New Negro Arts movement artist monograph Barthé, A Life in Sculpture (UP Mississippi, 2008).  She is currently Professor of art history and chairperson of the Department of Performing and Fine Arts and Director of the Fine Arts Gallery, York College, CUNY.

Entire Course (4 Sessions)
$140 general admission 
$120 seniors, students, educators 
$100 Members 

Individual Sessions:
$40 general admission
$35 seniors, students, educators
$30 Members

Members, sign in to receive your discount at check out. Please email with any questions.

Accessibility: Closed captions will be available for this program. Please contact the Museum at 917.492.3333 or with any questions.


This program is made possible by Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe.

Join MCNY!

Want free or discounted tickets, special event invites, and more?