Kate Dossett is giving a Gresham College Lecture, Women of the Harlem Renaissance on Thursday 5 October at 6pm. You are warmly invited to attend in person, tune in online(or you can watch the video afterwards). Register here
In this talk Professor Dossett considers why women’s voices have often been hard to hear in the century since the Harlem Renaissance. Access to the Harlem Renaissance continues to be framed through the gendered and racialised hierarchies established and maintained by powerful knowledge producing institutions, particularly archives, universities and publishers. Black women have developed various strategies, pratical and intellectual to keep their work visible and valued. This talk will explore these and focus on two writers who have very different publishing and archival legacies. Jessie Fauset was one of the most published novelists of the movement writing four novels between 1924 and 1933. She also played a central role in developing new artists as the literary editor of The Crisis, the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP). She has no archive of her own. Her friend, Gwendolyn Bennett, was a poet and artist, whose poems and illustrations were first published by Fauset in The Crisis. Bennett went on to write a literary column for Opportunity where she promoted and discussed the latest trends in Black arts. While her publishing output was slim, she carefully preserved an archive of her unpublished, much of which was published for the first time in 2018. The careers of these two women demonstrate that women were not on the margins of the Harlem Renaissance; in fact they played an important role in defining it. And yet, how and where their work was published and archived -or not- has shaped their legacy today.
Kate Dossett is an award-winning historian of the twentieth century United States with broad interests in cultural and political history and specializations in African American History, Gender histories and histories of the African Diaspora. She is Professor of American History at the University of Leeds.