Montage of a Dream Deferred: 70 Years Later

In 1951, Langston Hughes published Montage of a Dream Deferred, a book which contains several of his most taught and anthologized poems, including “Theme for English B” and “Harlem” (“What happens to a dream deferred?”). The volume’s prefatory note, however, does not refer to it as a collection, but as a book-length “poem on contemporary Harlem,” which “like be-bop, is marked by conflicting changes, sudden nuances, sharp and impudent interjections,” and so on. As Montage turns 70, this seminar will explore the pedagogical challenges and possibilities of approaching it as a single text. How might thinking of Montage this way change our sense of Hughes as an artist? What opportunities might it create for student research and creative practice? What happens to some of those classic anthology pieces if we read them both closely and doubly, considering them as individual artworks and as parts of this book as a whole?