Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Historical Studies

Project Advisor 1

Drew Thompson

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My senior project will be based on the notion of the black dandy specifically focusing on Harlem in the years 1920-40. I am interested in exploring how black men in the Atlantic diaspora have styled their way from slaves to selves. I will survey the history of their sartorial practices, flamboyance, and the cultural responses these men elicited. My main study will explore the protean manifestations of dandyism. I am interested in the mechanisms through which black dandyism blurred racial and sexual boundaries, how it altered pre-existing symbols of status and respectability, and my major question is the means through which it was able to satirize white fashion sensibilities as a means to express black determination to emulate and surpass white high-style. I will draw on seminal literary works written during the Harlem Renaissance by prominent literary figures such as, W.E.B Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Wallace Thurman, to witness the evolution of the black male dandy from his earlier appearance in the mid to late 19th century to his reappearance in 20th-century Harlem as an icon of freedom and modernity. As such this initial chapter is concerned with studying the modes through which black dandyism facilitated the construction of a new black identity but also the means through which it expanded the vocabulary used to define black masculinity and the manners in which it challenged the strict categories of race, gender and sexuality

Open Access Agreement

On-Campus only

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