Professor Receives Honors for Scholarly Work, Discusses Book Locally in Chicago

Westchester Community College Professor of English Richard A. Courage (resident of Valhalla, New York) has been garnering national attention for a book he has co-authored. Later this month, he will receive the Jean Block Award for nonfiction at the annual dinner of the Hyde Park Historical Society in Chicago, Illinois. Previously, the Illinois State Historical Society announced that a Superior Achievement in Scholarly Publication award had been given to his book, The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950.

Courage has been making a number of presentations to spread the word about his book and the topic it covers. He will next speak locally at the Warner Library at 121 Broadway in Tarrytown on February 28 at 7:00 p.m.

The Hyde Park event will be held on February 23 in the Quadrangle Club of the University of Chicago. The keynote speaker at that event will be Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s official cultural historian. The Block Award is given to nonfiction publications of historical significance which meet high academic standards. This award is only given when a publication meets the Society’s standards, and only four have been given since the award’s inception in 2003.

Courage co-authored The Muse in Bronzeville with his own teacher and mentor, the late Professor Robert Bone of Columbia University. Bone was a resident of Kendall on Hudson until his death in 2007.

This highly informative and accessible work offers the first comprehensive account of the creative awakening that occurred on Chicago’s South Side from the early 1930s to the Cold War. During these years, African American artists such as Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mahalia Jackson, Muddy Waters, Katherine Dunham, Charles White, and Gordon Parks produced works of literature, music, and visual art fully comparable in distinction and scope to the achievements of the Harlem Renaissance.

Since its publication, The Muse in Bronzeville has been well-received by scholarly and general readers alike. Besides the HPHS and ISHS awards, the book has been nominated for the Westchester Library Association’s Washington Irving Award for Nonfiction and several other prizes and is “Highly Recommended” by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. Monthly Review calls it “A compelling book which will be a standard in its field for many years to come,” while International Review of African American Art praises it for revealing “the truth about the deeply rooted but largely forgotten history of the Chicago Renaissance…in page-turning prose.”

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