Title

Benevolent Economies: An Exploration of Literary Patronage During the Harlem Renaissance

Date of Award

2003

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Kenneth Watson

Advisor Department

English

Abstract

During the Harlem Renaissance, writers Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston struggled to make their work available to commercial markets. Each engaged in relationships with the notable patrons Carl Van Vechten and Charlotte Osgood Mason with decidedly different results. The assistance Hughes received from Van Vechten resembled a classical brand of patronage while the support offered to Hurston by Mason took shape more as a business partnership. Applying economic theory to these patronage relationships reveals that each association represents its own unique market economy. An economic reading of these writers allows a deeper and more comprehensive investigation into the very motivations of philanthropy.