Making the Wright Connection

An Online Community for the Study of Richard Wright

Autobiographical Elements of Richard Wright’s Haiku

Posted on February 28, 2011 | No Comments

Toru KiuchiTuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. CST
Please join us for a FREE virtual seminar led by Toru Kiuchi, Professor of English at Nihon University in Japan

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Abstract: 95.7 per cent of Wright’s haiku carry a season word. It was easier for Wright to return to his childhood memory of Mississippi, which was full of trees and flowers, than to use images taken from Paris. Sick in bed in Paris, Wright must have been trying to find a season word without going out, recalling his childhood days in Mississippi, which was “a whole world of emotion, of sounds and scents and colours.” Composing haiku, Wright returned not only to his childhood, but also to Chicago and New York days. Accordingly, his haiku comprise quite a few autobiographical elements in them. This lecture makes clear how Wright include his autobiographical factors in the composition of his haiku.

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North-South Wright Connection

Posted on February 25, 2011 | No Comments

As a result of their work together this summer, Shelia Bonner, Bob Darragh, Kristine Fields, Emily Robbins and Matt Presser have established a collaborative project to enhance their teaching of Wright’s work. They describe their project in this way: “Our project aims to bring together students of different backgrounds for a diverse discussion of important short stories. Our collaboration centers on a particular work by the author Richard Wright and pairs it with more modern texts. It also invites a dialogue between students — ranging from middle schoolers to community college students from the North and South.”

Click here for more information on the project.

Shelia Bonner

Bob Darragh

Kristine Fields

Emily Robbins

Matt Presser

Jerry W. Ward, Jr. wins Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award

Posted on February 22, 2011 | No Comments

Our very own Jerry Ward was one of two writers to receive the the Richard Wright Literary Excellence Award at the 22nd Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. Ward was recognized for his literary scholarship, which includes the anthologies Black Southern Voices (with John Oliver Killens) and Trouble the Water: 250 Years of African American Poetry, the essay collection Redefining American Literary History (with A. Lavonne Brown Ruoff), and the autobiographical The Katrina Papers: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery. He is also co-editor, with Maryemma Graham, of the soon to be released Cambridge History of African American Literature.

For more information on the award, and a list of former winners (who include Eudora Welty, Shelby Foote and John Grisham), click here

Chicago 8th Graders Study Black Boy

Posted on February 18, 2011 | No Comments

David Fuder, an 8th grade English teacher at Frances W. Parker School in Chicago and Summer 2010 Wright Connection Institute participant teaches Black Boy.

I have taught Richard Wright’s Black Boy for a number of years and have enjoyed beginning my course with his autobiography because it sets a good tone from the start – it’s a challenging read that signals to my students that they are in for a year of big ideas and sophisticated literature.   After spending two weeks in Lawrence last summer at KU’s “Making the Wright Connection,” I returned to Chicago feeling a bit like my students: challenged to think beyond my own understanding of Wright and eager to implement new ideas, strategies and greater depth into my teaching.  Wright would never be taught the same in my class.

I prefaced our reading of Black Boy with a short story from Eight Men, “Big Boy Leaves Home.”  I gave my students no introduction to Wright but asked them to read the short story and return ready to discuss it.  They were stirred up, as most had never read such a brutal account of terror.  All were curious to know more about this Richard Wright fellow, and so we began from there.

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Tom Niermann’s Course on Richard Wright

Posted on February 11, 2011 | No Comments

“This past January I taught an inter-term course using Black Boy as the primary text. The subject of the course was African American History in Kansas City. Although Wright never spent any time in KC his experience migrating from the south to urban areas in the north mirrored many of the experiences of blacks in Kansas City. While reading the book I had students make comparisons between the text and what we studied about Kansas City up to World War II. For my students (most of whom were white) the class offered them a picture of Kansas City and American history that they had never had before. In addition to reading Black Boy I had the students research the images from the Farm Security Adminstration archive that has been digitized and posted online by the Library of Congress. I used one of the ideas shared at our summer session and had the students match photos from the FSA with passages from Black Boy. Students then altered the images using Photoshop to emphasize particulary points. I’ve attached some of the students projects. Coming up next week in my survey class of American history, I’m assigning a short story from Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children when we discuss the Great Depression. I’m looking forward to it.”

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