Making the Wright Connection

An Online Community for the Study of Richard Wright

Facing Death: The Fear of Death vs. the Death of Fear

Posted on March 30, 2011 | No Comments

Abdul JanMohamedSaturday, April 30, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. CST
Please join us for a FREE Virtual Seminar taught by Abdul JanMohamed, Professor of English at the University of California (Berkeley)

Click here to join the virtual seminar.

Abstract: In my work on Native Son, and on Wright’s work in general, I have focused on the effects of the threat of death (lynching in Jim Crow society) as well as of the ensuing fear of death on the formation of individual psyche and subjectivity. And I have argued that all of Wright’s fiction is a systematic examination of the subject formed by the threat of death; it is an examination of how the threat/fear of death permeates every nook and cranny of the individual psyche. The virtual seminar, focusing in particular on Book Three of Native Son, will examine how Bigger Thomas faces his fear of death and finally overcomes it. Traditional literary criticism sees Book Three as the weakest part of Native Son; I will argue that it is the strongest and most powerful. My approach to this book and Wright’s work in general is based on the notion that the slave’s fear of death plays a crucial role in his/her enslavement and that conversely the overcoming of that fear can open the road to freedom.

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The Global Vision of Richard Wright

Posted on March 27, 2011 | No Comments

Saturday, April 23 at 10:00 a.m. CST

Please join us for a Virtual Seminar led by Amritjit Singh, Langston Hughes Professor of English at Ohio University

Abstract: Our conversation would include among other things the following possible topics:  (a) the speaker’s own engagement with Wright’s writings since the 1970s;  (b) Wright’s non-fictional writings from the 1950s – such as Pagan Spain, White Man, Listen, Black Power and Color Curtain – and how these relatively neglected works by the novelist anticipate the cross-cultural, postcolonialist, and Black Atlantic perspectives that have emerged since the 1980s; (c) how Wright extends and expands the interrogation of high modernism by Harlem Renaissance writers such as Claude McKay, Langston Hughes,  Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman by injecting issues of social injustice and political freedom to create new iterations of modernism; (d) how Wright may be taught in the classroom in conjunction with other American and ethnic American writers.

Wright portrait installed in Mississippi Hall of Fame

Posted on March 27, 2011 | No Comments

NATCHEZ, MS – A new portrait of Richard Wright was unveiled on February 24th as part of the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration and permanently installed on March 27th in the Mississippi Hall of Fame at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.  The artist is Katherine Buchanan.

Portrait of Richard Wright, by artist Katherine Buchanan

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A Very Average Negro?: Using Richard Wright’s Life to Teach African-American History

Posted on March 16, 2011 | No Comments

Jennifer Wallach Saturday, April 16, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. CST
Taught by Jennifer Wallach, Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Texas

Abstract: When explaining his decision to write his autobiography, Black Boy, Richard Wright once remarked that he did so in part because he realized that he was a “very average Negro.” He hoped that his story would be read as representative of the experiences of others who lacked his access to the reading public. Due to his extraordinary talent and unprecedented success as an African-American novelist, his claim initially sounds like false modesty. However, it also manifests his sensitivity to the fact that he did not walk through history unaccompanied. This seminar will demonstrate how Richard Wright’s life can be used as an example for teaching many aspects of African-American history. Topics covered will include Reconstruction, the Great Migration, African-American life during the Great Depression, and various African-American cultural and political responses to racial oppression.

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A Review of A Father’s Law

Posted on March 9, 2011 | No Comments

Written in the final months of his life, Wright’s last novel, A Father’s Law, challenges readers to reconsider how the practice of law and order might at once regulate and complicate the lives of American citizens.  Resonating themes from The Outsider (1953) and The Long Dream (1958), and more faintly those in Native Son (1940), this book provides fresh evidence of Wright’s talent for spinning tales that catch our conscience.

Click here to download the full review in pdf.

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