Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Du Bois's Life and Times

To add to our current discussion about the life and times of W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963), I offer the following links to articles, essays, primary documents, and interviews to move the conversation along.

Start here with a short biographical sketch of Du Bois, and a photo-text exhibit on Du Bois's life.

The University of Massachusetts-Amherts contains the largest collection of Du Bois's papers, and hosts an on-line repository with tons of pictures and a large number of documents. In fact, the Afro-American studies department at UMass-Amherst takes it name from Du Bois. Here's another collection of things Du Bois (click on the animated map--a cool feature of the site), and a short summary of his early life in Great Barrington.

Here's a report about the history of Du Bois's Encyclopedia Africana project, another project related to Du Bois's encyclopedia idea, and some pictures from Du Bois landmarks in Ghana.

I mentioned in the Du Bois lecture that he spent time studying in Germany. Read some thoughts about that here, and read Du Bois's musings on the "talented tenth." Read this interesting exchange between two scholars about Du Bois's posture toward Joseph Stalin.

There's the W.E.B. Du Bois Virtual University, Professor Robert Williams's fabulous repository of Du Bois resources, the resources page at the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass-Amherst, Dr. Steven Hale's Du Bois on-line selections, resources from the Documenting the American South project, the Perspectives in American Literature (PAL) page, the reading room at Harvard's Du Bois Institute, documents from the FBI files of Du Bois (though redacted), Du Bois's New York Times featured author page (subscription required), the e-project at the University of Virginia Library (scroll down for Du Bois), and in other various places Paul Harvey points out.

Another interesting site comes from Dr. Richard Rath, a historian who does sensory history among other things, teaches at the U. of Hawaii and with some students developed a kind of soundtrack to Souls of Black Folk. It is amazingly cool, and a helpful resource in teaching. Check it out here.

Other on-line readings from Du Bois include Darkwater (1920) which includes an interesting story titled “Jesus Christ in Texas.” Du Bois's “A Litany at Atlanta” is a psalm of lament written in response to the 1906 Atlanta riot that we talked about in class. Another interesting piece from Darkwater is "The Souls of White Folk" with clear references to World War I, among other things.

In 2007 two bloggers interviewed Edward J. Blum, a scholar of W.E.B. Du Bois who published an important book titled W.E.B. Du Bois, American Prophet. (Be sure to read the customer review of Ed's book, as well as this recent review.) You will learn more about Du Bois, of course, but also tons about how historians tells stories about the past, and how professors and teachers teach history. Read one interview here, and the other 7-part conversation below.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Ed has also written a few things for the University of Pennsylvania Press blog. Here's a piece about how Du Bois might respond to several contemporary high-profile atheists--interestingly enough a charge leveled many times over at Du Bois himself. Here's an editorial wherein Blum offers political advice to Barak Obama and the Democratic Party via the work of Du Bois. Finally, here's an entry celebrating Du Bois's birthday.

And speaking of birthdays.....since mine is coming up (as is Du Bois's on Feb. 23), I can't help but mention two interesting gift ideas-- I mean teaching aids: a W.E.B. Du Bois doll (seriously), and a Du Bois t-shirt.

[Photo credit here.]


Anonymous said...

I like learning about Du Bois. He saw the hypocracy in America, and the lack of it's main goal, unity. Although his beliefs are commonly misunderstood, he stood strong in everything he believed in. I hope to learn more about him and his many acheivements.
ps:The smartboard is cool!
pss:Love the Du Bois doll!!

Nikolas said...

You had a very interesting discussion and I seem to have gained a few more people to research when it comes to theology and over deep thought considering so many names were referenced in those conversations. Yes Du Bois did see the double standards but undortunately whenever a person points out such standards they rarely recieve a warm reception. However I admire such people because they don't sugar coat the ugly side of life and say what they mean. I adopted that line of thinking long ago and I love reading about famous people who have made it far in life by not compromising and not backing down. I have enjoyed what I have learned about Du Bois and I hope to learn more through discussion in class later.

Phil said...

Glad there seems to be interest in Du Bois. He's a fascinating figure, complex and intriguing. Niko, you are right on when you say that Du Bois pointed out the contradictions in American society. You may want to read more of Du Bois's writings via the links in the post, but I'd also take a look at Edward J. Blum's book. I think you might enjoy it.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikolas said...

WEll sir I might look into the book I already took the time to read through all the links a long time ago facinating how man has a sense of justice and how far we've fallen since then.

Anonymous said...

its pretty cool how dubois is the first black to person to get a phD from Harvard. he really laid the foundation for black people
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