Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American Women Writers 1900-1922

Origins of this Project

by Amardeep Singh, Lehigh University

The idea for this site came from a Lehigh Ph.D. student, Joanna Grim. Joanna was a student in an Introduction to Digital Humanities course I co-taught with Ed Whitley in Fall 2015. One of the class assignments for the DH course that fall involved creating a digital edition of Claude McKay's Harlem Shadows; the text of that assignment can be found here.  At the end of the semester, I asked students interested in continuing to collaborate to contact me; Joanna suggested an archive on African American women writers. That seemed like a great idea -- but a big project! As of summer 2018, we are now ready to start following up on that idea. As of the present writing, the site has four full books of poetry available as digital editions; the short-term goal is to try and add two more as well as a number of assorted poems published in magazines like The Crisis over the coming months.  

Also, in 2017 I rebuilt the Claude McKay class project in Scalar and expanded it considerably, adding a large number of McKay's other early poems, including his Jamaican dialect poetry. "Claude McKay's Early Poetry" should be seen as a 'brother' site to this project. 

While I (Amardeep Singh) have done the bulk of the work of building this archive, Joanna has remained involved with this project as it has evolved. She is credited for her help proofreading and annotating Carrie Williams Clifford's The Widening Light.)

Another person whose work must be credited is of course the critic and editor Maureen Honey, whose pioneering collection Shadowed Dreams: Women's Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance remains an indispensable starting point for anyone researching this material. My goals as a site curator are really to expand on what Honey did. On a digital platform we can offer full texts where Honey could only offer selections. 

I have consulted the works of many other scholars and editors along the way. Consult the site Bibliography for a full list. 

--Amardeep Singh 
On Twitter: @electrostani
Department of English
Lehigh University