21W.742J / SP.575J / WGS.575J Writing About Race

As taught in: Spring 2003




Prof. Rebecca Blevins Faery

Photograph of W. E. B. DuBois.
W. E. B. DuBois.  (Image courtesy Library of Congress.)

Course Description

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), the great cultural critic W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that "…the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line." A century after Du Bois penned those words, most Americans would agree that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the color line remains one of our most pressing social issues. In this course, we will explore the terrain of race in America by reading the works of writers of color and others concerned with the issue of race, by viewing films that address racial issues, and by writing to explore how the fictions and facts of race condition all our lives, social and civic, private and public. We will consider the complex question of racial identity, test the givens of history by uncovering histories that have been more elusive or more thoroughly suppressed, and explore how writing and reading can both reflect and challenge racial categories, hierarchies, and perceptions. The reading is at once wonderful and disturbing, and the writing you will do will open up arenas of increased understanding for both you and your readers.

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