English (ENGL) 361

Literature of the Harlem Renaissance (Revision 1)

ENGL 361 Cover Image

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 211 and ENGL 212 or equivalent first year English course(s). It is recommended that students also take either ENGL 344 American Literature I or ENGL 345 American Literature II before taking ENGL 361, but is not mandatory.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Centre: English Studies

ENGL 361 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Check availability


English 361 is a genre specific study of the poetry, prose, short fiction and novels of the Harlem Renaissance. In this course, students focus on this cultural. historic and artistic movement of the 1920s and 1930s, examining the racial, political and social issues of the time period, as well as the questions of race and ethnicity, the diversity of Black culture and identity, and artistic trends and movements as part of the larger Modernist movement in America.

Note: Since this is a senior course, we expect students to have good reading and writing skills as well as the basic critical tools and knowledge of literary forms and techniques that are acquired in an introductory university English literature course like Athabasca University's English 211 and 212. Students who do not have the recommended credits in an introductory English literature course may experience significant difficulty with the essay assignments and examinations.

Course Objectives

English 361: Literature of the Harlem Renaissance is designed to help you achieve the following objectives.

  1. Develop an understanding of cultural, political and social history of black Americans in the 1920s and 1930s in America.
  2. Read, understand, and enjoy a number of significant works of the movement referred to as the Harlem Renaissance.
  3. Acquire a critical knowledge of the literary themes, motifs, structures, narratives, points of view, and values that are typical of various works of literature from the Harlem Renaissance.
  4. Begin to acquire a historic perspective of the development of literature during the Harlem Renaissance.
  5. Begin to identify the common elements in the works of various Harlem Renaissance authors.
  6. Consider questions of social conflict as they are reflected in works of literature.
  7. Develop an understanding of the place of Harlem Renaissance literature in the world context.
  8. Develop communication skills in essays and research papers.
  9. Acquire a sound basis for further work in American literature.


To receive credit for English 361: Literature of the Harlem Renaissance, you must complete two essay assignments, and a final exam; you must receive an overall grade of D (50 percent) on each of these requirements. The following chart indicates the assignment activity, the date it is due, the percentage given to each course requirement in arriving at a final composite mark for the course, and the suggested length for each assignment.

Assignment Week Due Length Weighting
Essay 1 9 2000 to 3000 words
(8-10 pages)
Essay 2 18 2000 to 3000 words
(8-10 pages)
Final Exam 20 3 hours 30%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Lewis, David Levering. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader. New York: Penguin, 1994.


Bontemps, Arna. Black Thunder. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.

Johnson, James Weldon. The Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man. New York: Hill and Wang, 1960.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Jonah's Gourd Vine. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008.

Larsen, Nella. Quicksand. New York: Dover Publications, 2006.

Williams, Edward Christopher. When Washington was in Vogue: A Lost Novel of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Amistad, 2005.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the ENGL 361 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on each part of the examination. Credit is awarded on a pass/fail basis only.

Activity Weighting
Essay 50%
Exam 50%
Total 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, April 10, 2013.