Our program trains students to collect stories from local archives, community and national organizations, and our Harlem neighbors. We work with librarians and archivists to study these materials and share findings—via gallery exhibits, digital programs, and symposia. Our audience includes CCNY students and faculty, scholars from around the country and all over the world, and local residents of the Harlem community.

We are highlighting a few of the courses taught in our creative writing programs for MFA students and undergraduates. Listed briefly are the courses and a few selected projects that students have created.

The Evidence of Things Unseen: Art, Archives, and Harlem

Professor William Gibbons

The years between the collapse of Reconstruction and the end of World War I mark a pivotal moment in African American cultural production. Christened the “Post-Bellum-Pre-Harlem” era by the novelist Charles Chesnutt, these years look back to the antislavery movement and forward to the artistic output and racial self-consciousness of the Harlem Renaissance as “past is prologue.”

The Evidence of Things Unseen: Art, Archives, and Harlem examines the political, cultural, and social forces that influenced and defined the Harlem Renaissance. In addition to class discussions of assigned readings, the course functions as a research workshop, providing support for primary research and exposing students to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture to get hands-on experience accessing and utilizing archival collections and digitally publishing their findings.

Student Projects:
Cotton club women
The New Negro Woman: Club and Blues Undergraduate: Spring 2019
Art UnScene
Art UnScene: A Fire!! Sequel Graduate: Spring 2020
The One Twenty-Fifth; photo credit Kay
One Twenty-Fifth  Graduate: Spring 2020

Gentrification & the Cultural Identity of Harlem

A Freshman Inquiry writing Seminar (FIQWS)

Professor William Gibbons

This course explores contemporary Harlem, which is at a crossroads. After three centuries and five decades of continuous. Students position themselves as community activists engaged with libraries and archives, community boards, non-profits, and city and state agencies with an aim toward creating useful resources that can inform public policy to achieve affordable housing and sustainable equitable economic and community development for both longtime residents, businesses and newcomers. development, Harlem is poised for a rebirth. 

Student Projects:
TOP 5 FACTS ABOUT Bodegas Undergraduate: Fall 2019
The Cultural Identity of East Harlem
Undergraduate: Fall 2019

Telling Rivers: Annotating and Writing with Artifacts

Professor Nelly A. Rosario

Telling Rivers: Annotating and Writing with Artifacts is an archival storytelling project based on the autobiographies of Langston Hughes, The Big Sea and I Wonder as I Wonder. This project comprises two collections of artifacts related to each work, as well as a selection of inspired writings. The contributors were students in Knowing Rivers (ENGL B2031, Fall 2020), an MFA Program writing workshop and critical-practice course centered around the Langston Hughes Festival Archives at City College.