Shawn Anthony Christian. The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2016. iii, 140p. ISBN 9781625342010 (paper); 9781625342003 (hardcover). $US 25.95 (paper); $US 90.00 (hardcover).
The Harlem Renaissance and the Idea of a New Negro Reader argues that the idea of the reader was central to Harlem Renaissance discourse. African American commentators celebrated “close,” “engaged,” and “critical” reading (25, 37, 18) as the key to black autonomy and equality. By the 1910s, literacy was a widely shared value in the United States, a skill linked to moral, intellectual, and material success. The promises attached to literacy were especially attractive to marginalized readers, such as African Americans.