You are here



Pre-order The Muse in Bronzeville from Rutgers University Press.

20% discount on orders of
The Muse in Bronzeville
from Rutgers University Press

THE MUSE IN BRONZEVILLE, a dynamic reappraisal of a neglected period in African American cultural history, is the first comprehensive critical study of the creative awakening that occurred on Chicago’s South Side from the early 1930s to the cold war. Coming of age during the hard Depression years and in the wake of the Great Migration, this generation of Black creative artists produced works of literature, music, and visual art fully comparable in distinction and scope to the achievements of the Harlem Renaissance.

This highly informative and accessible work, enhanced with reproductions of paintings of the same period, examines Black Chicago’s “Renaissance” through richly anecdotal profiles of such figures as Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Charles White, Gordon Parks, Horace Cayton, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, and Katherine Dunham. Robert Bone and Richard A. Courage make a powerful case for moving Chicago’s Bronzeville, long overshadowed by New York’s Harlem, from a peripheral to a central position within African American and American studies.

ROBERT BONE (1924–2007) was a professor of languages and literature at Columbia University Teachers College and a pioneering scholar of African American literature. He was best known for The Negro Novel in America, Richard Wright, and Down Home: Origins of the Afro-American Short Story. His seminal essay “Richard Wright and the Chicago Renaissance” continues to be cited extensively in studies of early twentieth-century African American writing.

RICHARD A. COURAGE is a professor of English at Westchester Community College/SUNY. He has published scholarly articles on African American narrative and visual arts, distance learning, and the teaching of writing and has contributed educational reporting and opinion pieces to the New York Times and other newspapers.



“Bone and Courage . . . offer not only an impressively astute and comprehensive explication of the historical, cultural, ideological, and foundational contours of the Chicago Renaissance, but also a discussion of the prominent figures . . . and institutions that contributed to this black artistic flourishing. . . . This study . . . expands understanding of black artistic renaissances (generally as well as area specific) and of cultural and expressive traditions collectively in 20th-century America. . . . Highly recommended.”
--from review by T.C. Melancon, Loyola University, in Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

“Finally setting the record straight, the book brings to the forefront the cultural awakening of black consciousness exploding in the Midwest during the first half of the 20th-century. Bone and Courage masterfully blend the history of Chicago’s South Side as the incubator of cultural expression and the black aesthetic in page-turning prose.”
--from review by Charles Bethea, curator of the DuSable Museum of African American History, in the The International Review of African American Art

“Courage has completed Bone’s research and writing seamlessly in The Muse in Bronzeville…. The result is a compelling book which will be a standard in its field for many years to come.”
--from review by Quinn Brisben, retired history teacher, Chicago Public Schools, and former Socialist Party presidential candidate in The Progressive Populist

“The Muse synthesizes wide-ranging material . . . into a compelling critical narrative. . . . Bone and Courage move astutely from close readings of novels and poems to richly informative analyses of musical performances and visual works of art. . . . Through arduous and persistent archival work, the authors have unearthed historical gems that extend or challenge our understanding of how various actors situated themselves during this turbulent period.”
--from the Foreword by Amritjit Singh, author of Novels of the Harlem Renaissance

"Richard Courage’s monumental The Muse in Bronzeville completes Robert Bone’s ambitious Chicago project and provides a shift of focus in African American literary scholarship. Chicago finally emerges as the vibrant counterpart of the Harlem Renaissance."
--David Levering Lewis wrote When Harlem Was in Vogue and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

"The Muse in Bronzeville presents a rich cultural feast of writers, poets, bluesmen, jazz musicians, painters, and sculptors. Supported by newspapermen, sociologists, and philanthropists, these Chicago 'New Negros' rivaled their Harlem counterparts."
--Patricia Hills, author of Painting Harlem Modern: The Art of Jacob Lawrence