Born in 1868 Massachusetts, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was to become one of the most prominent and celebrated African American scholars and thinkers of his day. The Souls of Black Folk (1903) retains its currency as a critical theoretical text transcending disciplinary boundaries in a manner which parallels its objective of harmony across racial lines. When questions of biography arise, attention often falls, as with Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), upon the difference between Du Bois the writer and Du Bois the man. Could a former international student at the University of Berlin and the first African American doctoral graduate from Harvard University be seen as of his people as well as for his people? Could anyone other than someone of Du Bois’ stature have made the observations that he did? Throughout his life, Du Bois championed the idea of a liberal arts education for Negroes in order to provide them the moral and intellectual tools necessary for integration within the United States. This article subjects The Souls of Black Folk to a close reading that details Du Bois’ threefold history of and mandate for the Negro whilst simultaneously examining how characters such as Du Bois’ son, Burghardt, are incorporated less as people and more as devices by which central theses are confirmed. What emerges is a hybrid text which, while taking racial and literary studies to a new level, incorporates biographical decisions and portrayals inseparable from the academician’s personal project.
臺灣英美文學期刊, 3, 1-11 Taiwan journal of English literature