Welcome! This is the companion website to Measuring the Harlem Renaissance, which examines African American cultural forms through the lens of census history. Measuring the Harlem Renaissance tells the story of how U.S. officialdom—in particular the Census Bureau—placed persons of African descent within a shifting taxonomy of racial difference, and how African American writers and intellectuals described a far more complex situation of interracial social contact and intra-racial diversity.
What we now call African American identity and the literature that gives it voice emerged out of social, cultural, and intellectual forces that fused in Harlem roughly one century ago. Measuring the Harlem Renaissance sifts through a wide range of authors and ideas—from W. E. B. Du Bois, Rudolph Fisher, and Nella Larsen to Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, and from census history to the Great Migration—to provide a fresh take on late nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and social thought. The book reveals how Harlem came to be known as the “cultural capital of black America,” and how these ideas left us with unforgettable fiction and poetry.
Advance praise for Measuring the Harlem Renaissance:
“Measuring the Harlem Renaissance takes Harlem Renaissance studies in a valuable new direction, offering a reading of the metaphorical meaning of the New Negro movement and Black Modernism through the way in which not only the U.S. state recorded and determined racial identity, but, more important, how New Negro intellectuals articulated blackness and African American identity during the interwar, modernist period.”
—Gary Holcomb, author of Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha: Queer Black Marxism and the Harlem Renaissance