Skip to main content

BHM Student Work Feature: "Engendering the Harlem Renaissance" by Grace Armstrong

In honour of Black History Month, the Department of History is featuring undergraduate student research that addresses Black histories, Black cultures, and Black experiences. Throughout the month of February, we will post the eight essays deemed to be the strongest of the many exceptional projects we received during our open submission call. We hope you enjoy reading our students’ work.

The Selection Committee would like to thank all of those who submitted their work for consideration.

Our seventh selection is "Engendering the Harlem Renaissance," an essay written by Grace Armstrong in the upper-year History seminar course, HIST 473: Black Women in U.S. History.

Grace's paper examines the lives and work of Black women intellectuals, artists and musicians at the forefront of American culture during the New Negro Renaissance at the beginning of the twentieth century, including novelists Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen and Angelina Weld Grimké, and blues musicians Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. Her paper also examines the ways that 

As Grace explains,

[Black women's] role[s] within this movement often meant that they were responsible for maintaining “New Negro” ideals of femininity. The pressure to adhere to the politics of respectability made many women artists feel disconnected from the movement. A re-evaluation of their history shows that they often disguised cultural critiques of the combined forces of racism and sexism within their work. 

Grace is a fourth-year student in History.

Read the full essay here


Grace Armstrong

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.