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Race, Identity and Representation in Literature

Paper Masters custom writes research papers that focus on race, identity and representation in the arts, particularly in literature. You can have our writers focus on any aspect of racial relations and identity that you need explicated. Below is a topic suggestion on several literary topics that are excellent examples of how race and identity are illustrated in literature.

Topic example: Race Identity and Representations in Harlem Renaissance Literature.

Examine the issue of race (race identity, racialized identity) as told through the writings of black authors (poets, play writes, and novelists) during the Harlem Renaissance.

Paper Masters suggests taht your research paper mainly focus on one of the following African American writers:

  1. Race Identity and RepresentationNella Larsen’s play “Passing”
  2. Langston Hughes’ play and poem “Mulatto”
  3. Poems by Sterling A. Brown (use any of these poems: “Southern Road” , “Ma Rainey”, “Odyssey of Big Boy”, “Frankie and Johnny”, and “Remembering Nat Turner”)
  4. Poems by Countee Cullen (use any of these poems: “Incident”, “Yet Do I Marvel”, “Heritage”, “From the Dark Tower”, and “Saturday’s Child”).

By examining the work of selected black authors of the Harlem Renaissance literary movement, the issue of racialized identity as viewed through the authors’ eyes can be understood.  These authors presented their views on the issue through poetry, plays, fiction, and essays, and left an indelible impression on the collected works of American literature. 

Questions to consider when writing Race Identity and Representation Research Paper:

  1. How did these black writers approach the issue of race, how did there writings reflect race and racial identity America.
  2. Discuss the different perspectives that the black writers represented in their work in wanting to uplift the black race, for instance there were black writers working on behalf of W.E.B. DuBois’ the Talented Tenth (for example poet Countee Cullen, novelist Nella Larson, and poet Claude McKay) and then there were others who wrote to represent or tell the story of the black working class (for example poet Sterling A. Brown, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston).
  3. All throughout the paper, when referring to these writer’s works, you must include some text directly from their written work.
  4. The reference to the text should be used to emphasize a point or concept that the writer/poet is trying to convey in their writing. Discuss any internal or external conflicts that the writer may have experienced.
  5. Also, when referring to America’s racial climate at the time of the Harlem Renaissance, mention Alain Locke’s concept of the “New Negro”, DuBois’ Talented Tenth, Marcus Garvey, NAACP and any other relevant concepts and organizations.
  6. In their writings, discuss how the authors attempted to represent these organizations or groups of people. Did their works uplift blacks by identifying with them, celebrating the black folks, and their African roots OR did their works in aiming to uplift the blacks simply represent/or mirror white values.

Note: Only black (or African American) writers of the Harlem Renaissance are featured above.

Identity was a huge issue for the authors of the Harlem Renaissance, and was an issue that was inextricably woven into the fabric of race relations and the meaning of being black in America.  These poets, playwrights, and novelists wrestled not only their own racialized identities, but the ways in which the majority population constructed false representations based on prejudice.  Navigating through the terrain of a segregated society, these individuals moved beyond the realm of attending to the majority’s tastes to craft a style and a movement so significant that it transcended time, race, and other superficial barriers.

Of course, there were many other persons who were instrumental contributors to the Harlem Renaissance movement.  The writers discussed here made contributions that were sometimes poetic, always political, and usually extremely influential.  In crafting their own identities in the unique voices of their work, the writers of the Harlem Renaissance showed people that they were individuals sharing in an experience that was common to all black people of their time.  In portraying elements of a racialized identity, they demonstrated that race is but a small yet significant component of one’s overall crafting of identity.

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