Saint Louis University

In honor of Black History Month, the African-American Studies Program will host a brown bag lectures from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, in room 218 of McGannon Hall. Emily Lutenski, Ph.D., of the American Studies Department, will present "Home on the Range: The New Negro Renaissance and the American West." Light refreshments will be served.

About the lecture

In 1923, Langston Hughes won an undergraduate poetry prize given by Palms magazine for "A House in Taos." He went on to become one of the most storied figures of the Harlem Renaissance, but this poem is far removed from the rent parties and cabarets of Lenox Avenue. Instead, it describes the high desert of New Mexico.

During this period, the American West and particularly the Southwest, occupied a central place in the work of Anglo writers and artists like Georgia O'Keeffe or Willa Cather, who sought renovation through Native and Mexican American arts and folkways. African-Americans, however, remain left out of this landscape. Writers like Hughes, Arna Bontemps, Wallace Thurman, Jean Toomer and Anita Scott Coleman, however, all engaged with this region, turning from black Manhattan to the geographical and ethnic context of Greater Mexico. By centering this writing, "Home on the Range" complicates paradigms of black migration and literary history by locating it in the borderlands.