The Victorian Souls of Black Folk
This talk traces the rich, politically fraught history of African American citations and appropriations of nineteenth-century British literature. While key figures in this history include Frederick Douglass, Frances Harper, Anna Julia Cooper, and Charles Chesnutt, this series of engagements becomes a self-conscious tradition, I argue, in the work of W. E. B. Du Bois. Viewing Du Bois in this way leads to a new understanding of his rhetorical strategies in The Souls of Black Folk and of the relationship between race and culture he proposes in that epochal work.
Daniel Hack is associate professor of English language and literature. He was a 2011-12 John Rich Professor at the Institute for the Humanities.