Annotated Bibliography

Langston Hughes: The Style of the New Negro

Phillip Yates


Bontemps, Arna, Patricia E Taylor.  “The Harlem Renaissance Remembered.” Dodd, Mead & Company (1972): 90- 102.   


          This chapter talked about the role of Langston Hughes in the literary movement of African        Americans in the Harlem Renaissance.  Taylor wrote that Hughes' style emerged when the     time was beginning to assert the individuality of blacks, their independence, and their originality.  Hughes wrote in a manner that gave a “rebirth of blackness”.  Langston           Hughes wrote in all aspects of literature: short stories, poetry, books, and plays.  In each of      his works he had a subliminal message that “even the most common man could read and understand.”  Hughes’ writing was liberating and challenging for the reader.  Taylor’s view               of Hughes’ style was that he could capture the reader without compromising the message       of “the new Negro.” (116 words) [InfoKat]


De Jongh, James.  “Vicious Modernism: Black Harlem and the Literary Imagination.”  Cambridge University Press (1990): 100-113.


          De Jongh writes in this chapter that, “It was left to Langston Hughes – more than any other       figure shaping and elaborating the theme of Harlem in this phase.”  The people wanted a           change and Hughes was the man with the style to accomplish the wants of his fellow black Americans.  In this chapter De Jongh writes that Hughes did so by the incorporation of     jazz, blues, African folklore, and dialect.  Other black writers at this time were very aware        of using these as well, but Langston Hughes did it with grace and style like no other.  De    Jongh conveyed that Hughes’ style wasn’t limited to the boundaries of Harlem or to      African Americans in general. (130 words) [MLA/First Search]     



Emanuel, James A., Therman B. O’Daniel.  “‘Langston Hughes: Black Genius- A Critical Evaluation’ The Literary Experiments of Langston Hughes.” William Morrow & Company,    Inc. (1971): 171-182. 


          Emanuel’s essay is a piece that describes the nature of the unheard of style of Langston   Hughes.  He says that Hughes experimentation “becomes inseparable from the reader’s        personal style” because it is a style that is so clear and easy to come accustom to it.  The      style of Hughes hadn’t been seen prior to or in the Harlem Renaissance; it wasn’t until the     late 1960’s that people understood the genius of his work.  The article explains how       Hughes the stylist is so interconnected with simply trying to reach in as many different   directions as possible.  The uniqueness of a writer like Langston Hughes conveyed such        freshness to literature, and it was even more profound because he was a published black           author in the 1920’s. (124 words) [MLA/FirstSearch]


Hutchinson, George.  “The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White.”  The Belknap Press of  


          Harvard University Press (1995): 221-249.


          Hutchinson credited Langston Hughes with the development of the “Negro’s place in The         Nation and New Republic”.  What Hutchinson meant by this was that since 1865 blacks        were considered freedmen from the Southern states yet social bonds still held them.           Langston Hughes writing style was like a typology of Christ in the literary and social           world.  Hughes free and unrestrained style seeped through into everyday life, giving the   “New Negro a way of expression and meaning of life.”  Hughes’ language in his writings        will never be closed their pages to the iconoclastic views.  Hughes said his work would   never be done until segregation was completed.  His style would have to live on and be      able to withstand the pressure of a hateful world.  This passage said that if it weren’t so   classical, Hughes’ style could be retired, because his style accomplished what it set out to      do: illuminate African-American minds and set them free. (154 words) [InfoKat]


Jemie, Onwuchekwa.  “Langston Hughes: An Introduction to Poetry.”  Columbia University


          Press (1976): 144-186. [InfoKat]


          In Jemie book he talked about the effects of Langston Hughes’ style and the impact that it        had on society.  It “evolved a consciousness in black poetry” that is still prevalent today.          Hughes’ style of explaining the struggles, the good times and the times that some people   would like to forget was amazing.  The chapters talked about how blacks, as an intellectual    people were stimulated by the poetry that Hughes wrote.  “It allows blacks to realize that         good can come from the depths of a soul.”  Langston Hughes knew that he was writing,       and doing it well, but he didn’t know the impact that it would play on the mind-state of all      Americans. (113 words) [MLA/First Search]


Littlejohn, David.  “Black on White: A Critical Survey of Writing by American Negroes.”        


          Grossman Publishers (1966): 138-156.


          “Langston Hughes is as skillful and durable a storyteller as he is a poet” Littlejohn said.    Littlejohn’s favorite aspect of Hughes’ work and style is the social comedy of the African       American’s life.  The author was typical to the majority of the white critics of Hughes’   day, because he didn’t expect such beautiful style “to come from a Negro.”  The author continued to talk about the racial aspects of Langston Hughes’ style by saying, that not          only did it please the “Negroes” but it also let the rest of the world in on the secrets of the       black community in Harlem and abroad.  The quality of style that Hughes showed was that   of an educated white man who had been writing his whole life with the lesser tools to      work with. (130 words) [MLA/FirstSearch]


Miller, R. Baxter.  “The Art and Imagination of Langston Hughes.” The University Press of    Kentucky (1989): Entire book [InfoKat]


          Langston Hughes had an imagination that being people can’t fathom.  The artful way that          he used it in his writing was incredible.  His “symbolistic style” in poetry “intends to      objectify humane aspiration” instead of “brain killing writings” that causes humans to     think narrow-mindedly.  The strength of Langston Hughes’ voice through his writings is   still not fully grasped, and may not ever be, but his voice is understood.  Most people may          need to “decode the patterns of his voice and the images through which he interpreted and    transformed his historical world.”  Langston Hughes was a powerful writer whose voice is      still needed and whose style will attempt to be imitated.     



Redding, J. Saunders.  “To Make a Poet Black.”  Cornell University Press (1988): 93-125 [personal library]


          Redding compares Langston Hughes’ style to the style of ominous Edgar All Poe.  Not so        much as the weirdness or bitter-sweetness of Poe’s writings but of his art of melancholy.       Langston Hughes used various guises of futility, pessimism, and atavism.  And then in another piece he may use empowerment, liberation, and optimism.  This is what Redding       thought was so unique of the style of Hughes, his power to adapt, yet stay true to who he         was and what he intended for his writings to accomplish.  “He is the most prolific and the        most represented in the style of the new Negro” says Redding.