[A new semester is upon us, so this week I’ll preview texts I’m excited to teach in my Spring 2022 classes. Leading up to a weekend update on my book project in progress!]
On three (of the many) Du Bois texts that speak to our current moment.
1) “Returning Soldiers” (1919): It’s a tragic and telling irony that the explosion of racial terrorism known as the Red Summer of 1919 was caused by white supremacist backlash to the very sight—hell, the very idea—of African American WWI veterans. No text helps us better remember that backlash more than Du Bois’ Crisis editorial—and none more succinctly reflects the alternative, vital idea of African American critical patriotism as well.
2) Black Reconstruction in America (1935): In an era when the very idea of teaching race and racism has somehow become divisive, it’s fair to say that we need Du Bois’ magisterial work—to my mind still the single best historical and historiographic text I’ve ever read—more than ever. “The Propaganda of History” indeed.
3) The Souls of Black Folk (1903): Du Bois’ best book, and one of the handful of best American books I know, features perhaps my single favorite paragraph in American writing. That would be more than enough to feature it in this post and in this course, but Souls is so, so much more—including some of the most poignant and devastating autobiographical writing I’ve ever read. Can’t wait to teach that chapter and all things Du Bois this Spring!
Next preview post tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? Spring courses or other work you want to share?