Edited and with an introduction by R. Baxter Miller, Professor of English and the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia, this volume in the Critical Insights series presents a variety of new essays on the poet laureate of Harlem. For readers who are encountering Hughes for the first time, a biographical sketch then relates the details of his life and four essays survey the critical reception of Hughes work, explore its cultural and historical contexts, situate Hughes among his contemporaries, and review key themes in his work. Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the writer can then move on to other essays that explore topics like Hughes' relations to the Harlem Renaissance and black aesthetics, blues music, religion, and modernism. Still other essays consider Hughes' portrayals of women and families, his politics, and his depictions of racial violence. Works covered include Hughes' most commonly studied poems, like "Theme for English B" and "Montage of a Dream Deferred"; the Semple stories; classic short stories like "The Blues I'm Playing" and "Blessed Assurance"; Hughes' two autobiographies; and a sampling of his plays.