English 494 [CAPS] : Jazz Age/Harlem Renaissance
Fall 2021
Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:15
Todd Hall 303

Dr. Donna Campbell
campbelld@wsu.edu (email is the best way to reach me)
357 Avery Hall
509.335.4831 (voice or text)
Student Hours: Stop by my office any time from 10-11:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or email or text me for an appointment.
Virtual Student Hours: If you're not on campus during those times, meet me in Zoom (link is in Canvas).


Like the 2020s, the 1920s, called "The Jazz Age" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was a time of great cultural change brought about by technological advances, youth culture, the liberation of women, increasing voter rights, an emphasis on higher education, and increasing racial tolerance and respect for African American contributions to American culture (The Harlem Renaissance). Yet also like the 2020s, it was an era of vast income inequality and economic uncertainty with historical consequences that differed from the hope implied by "Jazz Age" and "Harlem Renaissance." The basic principles of the course are to examine the mythology surrounding the era, to explore the cultural work that such a mythology has performed for later generations, and to investigate the ways in which such a mythology has obscured the political and racial tensions of the period.

Topics include the rise of modernism, post-WWI racial tensions, social unrest (the bonus marchers and the Palmer raids), race and the rise of the New Negro, ethnicity and restrictive immigration laws, Prohibition, the rise of gangster culture, cultural types (sheiks, flappers, and so on), freedom in sexual mores (including what critics are now calling the “gay Harlem Renaissance”), new technologies, the role of film as a disseminator of popular culture, and the emancipation of women.  Although we will discuss modernism, this isn't a course in modernism's "greatest hits" with the usual suspects: T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and so on. Among the authors to be studied are the following: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Toomer, Ernest Hemingway, Dorothy Parker, Claude McKay, and Nella Larsen. Films include Harold Lloyd’s The Freshman, Oscar Micheaux’s Within Our Gates, and Howard Hawks’s Scarface (1932) or Mervyn LeRoy's Three on a Match (1932); we'll also watch the recent film adaptation of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020). We’ll listen to the music of the era and identify its cultural references, including poems by Langston Hughes and others. We will conclude with a retrospective vision of the 1920s as seen in films and television series fromvarious later decades, such as Chicago, Some Like It Hot, The Great Gatsby, Cotton Club, Idlewild and Boardwalk Empire.

Required Texts

Lewis, David Levering

The Harlem Renaissance Reader


Penguin / 0140170367

Fitzgerald, F. Scott

Tender is the Night



Toomer, Jean

Cane (Norton Critical Ed., 2nd ed. )


Norton / 978-0393931686

Larsen, Nella



Penguin / 9780142437278

Hemingway, Ernest

The Sun Also Rises


Scribner / 0684800713


List of 1920s periodicals available at Holland/Terrell library: http://donnamcampbell.net/engl494/magazines.htm

You need to bring your book with you to class each day. Having your book in class is a vital part of class participation: you'll be asked to read passages aloud, give page citations, and so forth. Reading the book online and then coming to class is not sufficient, and your class participation grade will be lower as a result. Because the introductions to these books often contain "spoilers," you need not read them until after you have finished the book.

Recommended Books

Churchwell, Sarah. Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby. (2014)
Douglas, Ann. Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s.
Harmon and Holman, A Handbook to Literature (Prentice Hall, 9th ed.) (ISBN 0-13-012731-0)
Lewis, David Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue
Miller, Nathan. New World Coming: The 1920s and the Making of Modern America (2003)

Grade Distribution

Exams (exams, 10% each) 20 percent
Short papers (2 at 15% each) 30 percent
Report or weblog 10 percent
Precis 5 percent
Longer Paper or Project (20%) plus presentation (5%) 25 percent
Quizzes, class participation, group presentations, and in-class writings 10 percent

Course Goals and Objectives

The goals for students in the course are as follows:

See the UCORE section below for the alignment of these objectives with UCORE and CAPS guidelines.

The main objective of this capstone course is to enable students to bring their expertise and subject knowledge from all their previous work to bear on a subject of interest to them in the Jazz Age or Harlem Renaissance. Toward this end, they will produce a capstone project (Paper or Project 4) toward which the other assignments will build.

Schedule of Assignments

This schedule should be regarded as a tentative guide to the assignments; it may well be changed as the semester progresses. You're responsible for the material even if you missed class that day. Since you will also be writing about films and music of the era in your papers, quizzes, and exams, you should arrange to view or listen to any materials that you may miss if you do not attend class on a given day. Most are available either online, in the library, through Interlibrary Loan, or through a commercial service such as Netflix.

Film: Oscar Micheaux, Within Our Gates (1919)



Reading Assignments

Other Assignments







Gender Matters, Part I

Dorothy Parker, "Resume"; (PDP 99); "Interview" (117); "News Item" (109); "Bohemia" (223); "Unfortunate Coincidence" (96); "Big Blonde" (PDP 187-210)
"You Were Perfectly Fine" (handout and on Blackboard).

Note: I'll ask for two volunteers to read "You Were Perfectly Fine" aloud in class, since it's a dialogue between a man and a woman.

Sign up for weblog, report, or both



Gender Matters, Part II

Hemingway, "The Sea Change" (Canvas and handout)
Hemingway, "Hills Like White Elephants" (Canvas and handout)
Fitzgerald, " Bernice Bobs Her Hair"(Canvas and online)

Debate over bobbed hair (optional)




Flappers and Philosophers

"Winter Dreams"
(Canvas and online)
"The Ice Palace" (Canvas and online)

Weblog post #1




Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night




Tender is the Night

Weblog post #2
Laptop day: Finding Scholarly Resources on the 1920s




Lost Generation and Expatriate Life 
Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises, chapters 1-12 (pp. 11-130)




The Sun Also Rises, chapters 13-end (pp. 131-251)

Weblog post #3

Extra credit movie night: Three on a Match (1932) or Scarface (1932) (Time TBD)




Collegiate Culture
Film: Harold Lloyd, The Freshman




Visit to MASC (tentative date)

Weblog post #4





Paper 1 due



Song assignment





"Ain't We Got Fun?" Popular Music of the 1920s

Discussion of song assignment (bring written version to class)

Sheet music exercise (in class)

Laptop day



Exam 1




The Harlem RenaissanceJazz and Poetry 
Lewis, introduction to The Harlem Renaissance Reader (xiii-xli)
Joel A. Rogers, "Jazz at Home" HRR 52-57 
Sterling Brown, "Ma Rainey" HRR 232-234
Ma Rainey, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and other songs 
Bessie Smith, "St. Louis Blues" (song)
Gwendolyn Bennett, "Song" HRR 221-222




Countee Cullen, "Heritage" and "From the Dark Tower," HRR 244-248  
Louis Armstrong, "Weary Blues" (song) 
Langston Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "I, Too" HRR 257-258;"The Weary Blues" HRR 260-261; "Negro," "Mulatto," HRR 262-263

Weblog post #5




Harlem Renaissance: Poetry and Aesthetics

Claude McKay, "If We Must Die" and "The White House," HRR 290-291 
Alain Locke, from The New Negro, HRR 46-51 
W. E. B. Du Bois, "Criteria of Negro Art," HRR 100-105 
Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," HRR 91-95 




Harlem Renaissance: Life Writings

Claude McKay, from A Long Way from HomeHRR 156-172
James Weldon Johnson, from Black Manhattan, HRR 34-45
Langston Hughes, from The Big SeaHRR 76-91 
Rudolph Fisher, "The Caucasian Storms Harlem," HRR 110-117 

Weblog post #6
Paper 2 due



Harlem Renaissance: Modernist Experimentation 

Jean Toomer, Cane 1-51, especially "Karintha," "Fern," "Georgia Dusk," and "Blood-Burning Moon"

Laptop day



Cane, 52-end, especially "Bona and Paul" and "Box Seat" 

Weblog post #7




Critical Perspectives on Cane

Read Reilly, Scruggs, Walker, Sollors, Jones in your Norton Critical Edition

Precis assignment on one of the assigned articles due in class; you'll discuss it in class.



No Class: Reading Day




Southern Horrors

Harlem Renaissance: Race, Secrets, and Violence 

Claude McKay, from Home to Harlem, HRR 370-388
Angelina Weld Grimke, from "The Closing Door" HRR 486-500
Richard Bruce Nugent, "Smoke, Lilies and Jade" HRR 569-583

Weblog post #8
Optional Paper 3 (creative) due



No Class: Veterans' Day

Weblog post #9




Passing and Fictions of Racial Identity

Nella Larsen, Passing, part 1




Passing, parts 2 & 3

Weblog post #10

Extra credit post and response for #10




Thanksgiving Week: No Class








1920s Retrospective
Integrative analysis: How has the 1920s been viewed by subsequent decades in terms of history, culture, literature, and social change?





Paper 4 due




Presentations on Final Projects (Paper 4)




Presentations on Final Projects (Paper 4)



Final Exam


Requirements and Assignments

Attendance and Class Participation.  Class participation and attendance are important, and you should come to class prepared to discuss each day's reading. Since the syllabus is online, as are the readings not in your textbooks, you should have no trouble in reading the next day's assignments even if you're absent on the previous day. If you have questions about the day's reading, don't hesitate to ask; chances are good that someone else had the same question.

Formal Papers. Clear sentences, a logical organizational plan, an original thesis, and good support for ideas are the goal for your papers. At the college level, and especially in an upper-division English course, great ideas require clear exposition. If the paper can't make the "great idea" clear, it's not a great paper. Papers are evaluated on the conventions of standard written English as well as on the content, and the comments on your papers will reflect conventions such as sentence structure and punctuation. See the criteria below.

Students in this class will write the following:

Format. Papers must be neatly typed and carefully proofread. Citations should follow MLA style as outlined in the MLA Handbook. See more formatting guidelines at this link: https://hub.wsu.edu/campbell/courses/resources/formatting-guide/

Late Papers and Extensions. Late papers are penalized at the rate of one letter grade (10 points) per class day late; a paper that would have received a "B" or 85 on Tuesday will receive a "C" or 75 if handed in on Thursday.

  • If you do not turn in a paper, you will receive a 0 for that portion of your grade. Papers received after four class days will receive 50 points but will not be formally graded.
  • You have one 48-hour extension in this class. This extension means that your paper will be due on the next class day, which could be more than 48 hours, without penalty.You must request the extension ahead of time, and you should save it for a true emergency, since no other extensions will be granted for illness, funerals, weddings, or any other reason.
  • Exams. This course has two exams: a midterm and a final. Exams in this course will consist of objective (multiple choice, short answer, matching) questions, identification questions, and an essay written in class. The final exam will not be given early since alternatives to taking it are available to students.

    QuizzesBecause quizzes have been proven to help students with the retention of material, unannounced quizzes over the reading will be given frequently in this class. The quizzes test your specific knowledge of the reading assignment for that day and sometimes ask about information from a previous day's class discussion or lecture. For example, you might be asked the name of a character, the meaning of a term discussed in the previous class, the character associated with a particular quotation, or the results of a specific action that occurs in a scene. Their purpose is to reinforce your close reading of the material by asking you about significant points in the book.

    In-class writing and short assignments. Short, typed responses to the reading may be assigned from time to time, as will short pieces of in-class writing.

    Reports and Blogs. Students in this class will either present a brief oral report to the class keep a weblog of their reading this semester. Both options will involve about the same amount of work, but with the blog option, you'll be spreading the work out over the entire semester. You can pair up with someone to write the weblog.

    Those who choose both to present a report and to keep a weblog will not have to take the final exam, although they can do so if they wish.


    Class Policies

    Electronics PolicyRecent studies have demonstrated that people remember material better when they take notes by hand rather than on the computer, since typing on the computer tends to produce a transcription rather than the kind of selective note-taking that leads to understanding. Also, students participate more actively when they are not using a laptop, which benefits their class participation grade, and there are fewer distractions in the classroom without laptops. For 75 minutes twice a week, we'll be giving the culture of the 1920s our full attention;

    Plagiarism Policy. Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's words or ideas. This definition includes not only deliberately handing in someone else's work as your own but failing to cite your sources, including Web pages and Internet sources. Plagiarism also includes handing in a paper that you have previously submitted or are currently submitting for another course. For a first offense, any paper plagiarized in whole or in part will receive an "F" (0 points), and the incident must be reported to the WSU Office of Student Conduct.  You will NOT be allowed to rewrite the plagiarized paper for a better grade.

    WSU Policies

    These and additional policies can be found at https://provost.wsu.edu/documents/2018/08/key-policies-reminder-memorandum.pdf/

    WSU Email Policy: According to WSU policies, I can only respond to emails sent from your WSU email address.  I can't reply to emails sent from your personal email address. Because of FERPA and privacy issues, no grades will be discussed or transmitted by e-mail or instant messaging. Emails about other matters will usually receive a response within 24 hours except on weekends, when replies will be sent on Monday morning. Please identify yourself using first and last name and use conventional email etiquette.

    WSU Statement on Academic Integrity. Washington State University, a community dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, expects all students to adhere to high expectations of scholarship and the Standards of Conduct for Students. Potential violations of the Standards of Conduct for Students should be referred to the Center for Community Standards. The Center for Community Standards supports students, upholds their rights and responsibilities, and holds them accountable for behavior that doesn’t meet our community expectations. University instructors have the authority, and are expected to intervene, in all situations where students may have violated academic integrity expectations. Where an instructor believes it is more likely than not that a student violated expectations, they have the authority to assign an academic consequence consistent with the academic integrity statement found in their course syllabus. The instructor is required to report the violation to the Center for Community Standards to provide an appropriate and fundamentally fair process for the student. More information regarding responding to academic integrity violations can be found at: https://www.handbook.wsu.edu/academic-integrity-process/. Feel free to contact the Center for Community Standards if you would like more specific information about the process. Contact information for each campus can be found at: (https://communitystandards.wsu.edu/contacts-by-campus/).

    WSU Midterm Policy. Based on ASWSU student requests and action by the Faculty Senate, WSU has instituted Academic Rule 88, which stipulates that all students will receive midterm grades. Midterm grades will be reported as they are calculated in Blackboard.

    However, at midterm only 35% of the total graded assignments will have been turned in. Midterm grades are not binding, and because the bulk of the graded work in this course occurs after the midterm point, it can only accurately reflect student performance up to that point.

    WSU Reasonable Accommodations Policy.Students with Disabilities: Reasonable accommodations are available for students with documented disabilities or chronic medical conditions. If you have a disability and need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit your campus Access Center website (websites listed below) to follow published procedures to request accommodations. Students may also call or email the Access Center to schedule an appointment with an Access Advisor. All disability related accommodations are to be approved through the Access Center. It is a university expectation that students with approved accommodations visit with instructors (in person or via Zoom). Pullman or WSU Online: 509-335-3417 http://accesscenter.wsu.edu, Access.Center@wsu.edu

    COVID-19 Statement Students are expected to abide by all current COVID-19 related university policies and public health directives. These directives may be adjusted to respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Directives may include, but are not limited to, compliance with WSU’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, wearing a cloth face covering, physically distancing, and sanitizing common use spaces. All current COVID-19 related university policies and public health directives are located at https://wsu.edu/covid-19/. Students who do not comply with these directives may be required to leave the classroom; in egregious or repetitive cases, student noncompliance may be referred to the Center for Community Standards for action under the Standards of Conduct for Students.

    WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (Executive Policy 15). This policy expresses WSU’s commitment to maintaining an environment free from discrimination, including sexual harassment. This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, or others having an association with the University. Discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct (including stalking, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence) is prohibited at WSU (See WSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination and Harassment (Executive Policy 15) and WSU Standards of Conduct for Students). Key Policies Reminder August 5, 2021 Page 4 If you feel you have experienced or have witnessed discriminatory conduct, you can contact the WSU Office of Compliance and Civil Rights (CCR, formerly CRCI, formerly OEO, formerly CHR) ) and/or the WSU Title IX Coordinator at 509-335-8288 to discuss resources, including confidential resources, and reporting options. (Visit https://ccr.wsu.edu/ for more information). Most WSU employees, including faculty, who have information regarding sexual harassment or sexual misconduct are required to report the information to CCR or a designated Title IX Coordinator or Liaison. Visit https://ccr.wsu.edu/file-acomplaint/ for more information.

    WSU Class Attendance and Absences (Academic Regulation 72). As is common in any semester, this fall we will see students who are ill when they present to take an exam. In this situation, it is not appropriate to either forward a request for accommodations to the Access Center or send students to meet with Access Center staff. Students who are temporarily ill do not need official accommodations or approval to take a make-up exam. Make-up exam policies should be clearly stated in the course syllabi and other appropriate communication channels and instructors should follow them. Faculty should exercise understanding and generosity in responding to students’ requests to keep up with the coursework or make up missed work due to illness. It is the expectation of the Provost’s Office that instructors will reasonably accommodate students who are absent. Per Academic Regulation 72, students are responsible for ensuring that they attend all class meetings and complete all in-class and out-of-class work as assigned by the instructor. Students are also responsible for communicating with the instructor should they need to be absent. (See the rest of the policy at the link above.)

    WSU Safety Policy. Washington State University is committed to enhancing the safety of the students, faculty, staff, and visitors. It is highly recommended that you review the Campus Safety Plan (http://safetyplan.wsu.edu/) and visit the Office of Emergency Management web site (http://oem.wsu.edu/) for a comprehensive listing of university policies, procedures, statistics, and information related to campus safety, emergency management, and the health and welfare of the campus community.

    Grading Criteria

    A note on the evaluation process in this course: Each piece of written work, from an essay on an exam to a formal paper, starts as a "0" and rises to one of the levels listed below based on the quality of its ideas, development, and writing. Thus your writing does not start from an "A" and "lose points" based on certain errors; instead, grading starts from a baseline and points are added based on the quality of your work. Think of the grading scheme as you would think of a game or a job. You don't start with a perfect score (or a high salary) and lose points by making errors; rather, you start from a baseline and gain points based on the quality of your skills as demonstrated by your performance. The same is true here.

    I will use abbreviations as references to grammatical principles on your corrected papers. The abbreviations and accompanying explanations are available on the "Key to Comments" document at https://hub.wsu.edu/campbell/courses/resources/key-to-comments

    A (Excellent)

    B (Good)

    C (Satisfactory or Acceptable)

    D (Deficient)

    F (Unacceptable)

    UCORE Goals and Course Goals

    The following requirements pertain to CAPS courses in addition to UCORE goals (https://ucore.wsu.edu/documents/2018/04/ucore-handbook-v3-march-2018.pdf/"):

  • Require students to draw on the skills needed to develop their own research or creative project, and to initiate investigations and explorations of open-ended issues and problems.
  • Require students to demonstrate Integrative Learning: by showing a depth of knowledge within the chosen academic field of study based on integration, for example, of its history, core methods, techniques, vocabulary, and unsolved problems;
  • UCORE committee suggests that capstone courses and assignments intentionally offer students: •
    UCORE Goals Addressed in this Course At the end of this course, students should be able Course Topics Addressing this Outcome Evaluation of Outcome

    Critical and Creative Thinking. Graduates will use reason, evidence, and context to increase knowledge, to reason ethically, and to innovate in imaginative ways.

    CAPS: Require students to draw on the skills needed to develop their own research or creative project, and to initiate investigations and explorations of open-ended issues and problems.

    • To read and closely analyze a number of works of literature and journalism within the course materials described.
    • To study a topic in both breadth and depth, using the 1920s as a lens to reflect on American culture past and present.
    • To permit students to draw on the skills needed to develop their own research or creative questions about this time period through a close analysis of 1920s American fiction, poetry, films, songs, and other cultural artifacts.
    • All course topics
    • All lectures and class discussions
    • All papers
    • Final paper
    • Creative option project
    • Graded class discussions
    • Graded papers
    • Creative option paper evaluation
    Scientific Literacy.Graduates will have a basic understanding of major scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision-making, participation in civic affairs, economic productivity and global stewardship. 
    • To understand the ways in which scientific knowledge can be contingent not only on evidence but upon the historical framework in which it is gained.
    • To recognize that 1920s scientific theories led to harmful conclusions in terms of racism and eugenics
    • Selected readings, including "The Closing Door"
    Evaluation of papers and class discussions.
    Information Literacy. Graduates will effectively identify, locate, evaluate, use responsibly and share information for the problem at hand. 
    • To view and interpret multiple kinds of texts, including maps, songs, and political cartoons, to understand the ways in which they comment on and reflect their culture.
    • To work with and learn to evaluate primary and secondary resources, including locating primary print sources and digitized versions online, learning to use the MLA Bibliography and other databases to find secondary sources, and learning to assess web materials for reliability, and locating primary source materials. These will be addressed on laptop days and during our visit to the MASC.
    • Visit to the MASC
    • Laptop days
    • Finding 1920s materials
    • Precis assignment
    • Successful completion of laptop day and MASC exercises and integration of that knowledge into papers and projects.
    • Quizzes
    • Final project (web possibility) evaluation via rubric.
    Communication. Graduates will write, speak and listen to achieve intended meaning and understanding among all participants. 
    • To synthesize and create knowledge and to disseminate those insights to the class (reports, presentations, papers) and to the world beyond the classroom (blogs).
    • Formal reports
    • Informal class presentations
    • Class discussions
    • Papers and projects
    • Oral presentations
    Evaluation for formal reports, papers, oral presentations, weblogs, and class discussions.
    Diversity. Graduates will understand, respect and interact constructively with others of similar and diverse cultures, values, and perspectives. 
    • To learn about significant issues, movements, and trends in literature of the 1920s including historical issues of racism, class, and gender inequities
    • Reading theorists and artists on the Harlem Renaissance
    Evaluation for oral reports, class discussion, and papers.
    Depth, Breadth, and Integration of Learning. Graduates will develop depth, breadth, and integration of learning for the benefit of themselves, their communities, their employers, and for society at large. 
    • To search for instances of how 1920s perspectives, language, and literature permeate contemporary culture and to assess the ways in which they affect our perspectives on issues such as individualism, industrialism and ecology, relations with other countries, and aesthetics, gender, and sexuality.
    • Cultural history, including films, recorded music, sheet music, and so on
    Formal evaluation for final project, presentation, and weblogs.