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The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

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Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
Winner of the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction

A tiny, fastidiously dressed man emerged from Black Philadelphia around the turn of the century to mentor a generation of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jacob Lawrence and call them the New Negro — the creative African Americans whose art, literature, music, and drama would inspire Black people to greatness.

In The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, Jeffrey C. Stewart offers the definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance, based on the extant primary sources of his life and on interviews with those who knew him personally. He narrates the education of Locke, including his becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD in philosophy at Harvard University, and his long career as a professor at Howard University. Locke also received a cosmopolitan, aesthetic education through his travels in continental Europe, where he came to appreciate the beauty of art and experienced a freedom unknown to him in the United States. And yet he became most closely associated with the flowering of Black culture in Jazz Age America and his promotion of the literary and artistic work of African Americans as the quintessential creations of American modernism. In the process he looked to Africa to find the proud and beautiful roots of the race. Shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts, he helped establish the idea that Black urban communities could be crucibles of creativity. Stewart explores both Locke's professional and private life, including his relationships with his mother, his friends, and his white patrons, as well as his lifelong search for love as a gay man.

Stewart's thought-provoking biography recreates the worlds of this illustrious, enigmatic man who, in promoting the cultural heritage of Black people, became — in the process — a New Negro himself.

ISBN-13: 9780195089578

Media Type: Hardcover(New Edition)

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Publication Date: 02-01-2018

Pages: 944

Product Dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.50(d)

Jeffrey C. Stewart is a professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History.

Table of Contents


Section I. The Education of Alain Locke
1. A Death and a Birth
2. A Black Victorian Childhood
3. Child God and Black Aesthete
4. An Errand of Culture at Howard College, 1904-1905
5. A Reluctant Prometheus: Locke's Intellectual Awakening at Harvard, 1905-1907
6. Going for the Rhodes
7. Oxford Contrasts
8. Black Cosmopolitan
9. Paying Second Year Dues at Oxford, 1908-1909
10. Italy and America, 1909-1910
11. Berlin Stories
12. Exile's Return
13. Back in the U.S.S.R., 1911-1912
14. Search for a Voice at Howard University, 1912-1916
15. Rapprochement and Silence: Harvard, 1916-1917
16. Fitting in Washington, DC, 1917-1922

Section II: Enter the New Negro
17. Rebirth
18. Queen Mother of the Movement, 1922-1923
19. Opportunity Knocks
20. Egypt Bound
21. Renaissance and Self-Fashioning in 1924
22. The Dinner and the Dean
23. Battling the Barnes
24. Looking for Love
25. Survey Says
26. Renaissance and Rejection
27. The New Negro and The Blacks
28. Beauty or Propaganda?
29. The Curator and the Patron
30. Langston's Indian Summer
31. The American Scholar
32. Loves' Labour Lost

Section III: Metamorphosis
33. The Naked and the Nude
34. The Saving Grace of Realism
35. Bronze Booklets, Gold Art
36. Warn A Brother
37. The Riot and the Ride
38. Conversion
39. Two Trains Running
40. Queer Toussaint
41. The Invisible Locke
42. FBI, Haiti, and Diasporic Democracy
43. Inclusion and Death: Wisdom de Profundis
44: Buried but not Dead

Selected Bibliography