The writers of the Harlem Renaissance (1918–37) were a vibrant group of highly talented black artists who produced a wealth of literature. Unlike much previous exploration of the black experience, they created a literature written by African Americans, and from the perspective of the emerging 1920s black culture. Each of the novels we will read — Plum Bun (1928), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), and Quicksand (1928), by authors Jessie Redman Faucet, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen respectively — features a black female protagonist. Angela Murray of Plum Bun and Helga Crane of Quicksand seek to fulfill their intellectual and artistic potential and be accepted for who they are. Janie Crawford of Their Eyes Were Watching God tells her
story of rebellion within black Florida society in three stages, defined by her marriages to three black men. The texts for this study group are Harlem Renaissance: Five Novels of the 1920s, edited by Rafia Zafar (Library of America, 2011) and Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston (Harper Perennial Edition, 2006). We invite you to join us in exploring these thought-provoking narratives by and about African American women, full of personal and societal conflicts still relevant in today’s world.