Making the Wright Connection

An Online Community for the Study of Richard Wright

Wright Bibliography Updated

Posted on January 4, 2013 | No Comments

The Richard Wright Circle is pleased to provide an updated Wright bibliography for users of the WRIGHT CONNECTION.  Both the Circle and the Project on the History of Black Writing are very grateful to Marilyn Lee, Serials Librarian at Xavier University (New Orleans), for her initiative in continuing the bibliographic work begun by Keneth Kinnamon, who until his death was the Circle’s official bibliographer.

The new bibliography continues to reflect Kinnamon’s belief that all published mentions of Richard Wright and his works must be documented.

We invite users of the WRIGHT CONNECTION to submit complete citations in MLA format for items not listed here for the period 2004-2012. Contributors will be acknowledged by having their initials appear after the entry or entries they send.  Entries may be sent to

Wright Bib 1-2-2013


Maryemma Graham and Jerry W. Ward, Jr. for the Richard Wright Circle

A New look at richard wright’s mind

Posted on October 24, 2012 | No Comments

Haile, James B., III, ed. Philosophical Meditations on Richard Wright.  Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012.

In recent years, there has been a renewal of scholarly interest in Richard Wright.  Wright was a vociferous reader of Western philosophy, which he revised and often incorporated into his works. Philosophical Meditations on Richard Wright is a distinctive collection of essays that engages, interrogates, and illuminates the philosophical meanings and implications of Wright’s fiction and nonfiction.  Thought-provoking and eloquent, this volume makes a vital contribution to Wright studies. Both philosophers and readers of philosophy will find these critically important essays to be of enormous interest.

– Floyd W. Hayes, III.  Johns Hopkins University

In this groundbreaking volume, James B. Haile, III, and his cohorts transgress and transcend the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy by critically exploring Richard Wright’s oeuvre.  Here Wright is not simply read into the philosophy of literature and philosophical fiction traditions, but his novels, short stories, poems, and essays are also shown to unambiguously challenge, if not ultimately upend, these traditions. Indeed, Philosophical Meditations on Richard Wright deftly demonstrates that Wright not only wrote existential-phenomenology-informed fiction, but his prose also often eerily mirrored the oppression, alienation, tragicomic, absurd, and angst-filled realities of African American life, culture, and struggle.

– Reiland Rabaka, author of Forms of Fanonism: Frantz Fanon’s Critical Theory and the Dialectics of Decolonization

Black Southern Voices Revisited

Posted on April 5, 2012 | No Comments

Grandt, Jürgen E.  Shaping Words to Fit the Soul: The Southern Ritual Grounds of Afro-Modernism. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press, 2009.

In his introduction for the anthology Black Southern Voices (1992), John Oliver Killens quoted an observation Richard Wright made in 12 Million Black Voices: “…you usually take us for granted and think you know us, but our history is far stranger than you suspect, and we are not what we seem”(3).  Killens knew, and Grandt has learned by virtue of highly principled scholarship, that it is suicidal to take Black South cultural expressions for granted.  One valuable function of Shaping Words to Fit the Soul is its reminding  post-whatever literary theorists and critics that history is not dead, that recovering histories is a crucial gesture in interpretation.

Grandt’s exploration of Afro-modernism ( in the sense that Houston A. Baker, Jr. articulates that concept in Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance ) led him to examine it as “modernism with a historical conscience” and, thus, to avoid being hit by the boomerang of post-modernism.  Grandt is as savvy as any post-modernist I know, but he exercises remarkable common sense in reconfiguring “southern ritual grounds as situated in time and mind rather than in time and place”(9).  The key word is mind.  Indeed, such Black South writers as Jean Toomer, Richard Wright, and Tayari Jones are noteworthy for how they have artfully inscribed their minds upon the page.  Overmuch attention to the mythology of Southern place obscures the genius of their artistry.

Grandt makes a fine contribution to Wright studies in Chapter 3  —  “Roll Call: Richard Wright’s ‘Long Black Song’ and the Betrayal of Music.”  I urge Wright scholars to revitalize historical conscience by reading all of Shaping Words to Fit the Soul and giving special attention to the chapter on Wright.  Grandt makes a good case for reconfiguring how we study the clash and cooperation of genres in Black South cultural expressions, including the contemporary hip hop representations of the “Dirty South.” But what he does in his commentary on “Long Black Song” is invaluable, because it validates the unending quest for the pre-future in our study of Richard Wright.  Read Shaping Words to Fit the Soul and be renewed.

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

April 4, 2012

New Publication

Posted on March 6, 2012 | No Comments

The Muse in Bronzeville: African American Creative Expression in Chicago, 1932-1950 by Robert Bone and Richard A. Courage was released in late 2011 by Rutgers University Press.

This dynamic reappraisal of a neglected period in African American cultural history examines Black Chicago’s “Renaissance” through richly anecdotal profiles of such figures as Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Charles White, Gordon Parks, Horace Cayton, Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, and Katherine Dunham. Coming of age during the hard Depression years and in the wake of the Great Migration, these artists and intellectuals produced works of literature, music, and visual art fully comparable in distinction and scope to the achievements of their counterparts in 1920s Harlem.

The Muse in Bronzeville will interest both the scholar and general reader and is suitable for use in twentieth-century American and African American studies courses.

The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online booksellers, but the best price for the paperback is $23.96, when ordered directly from Rutgers UP. Order online at Enter discount code 02AAAA11 . That code entitles you to free shipping and 20% off the list price of $29.95. There is also an electronic edition in Kindle, available from Amazon and priced at $16.47.

Early responses to the book have been very positive:

• Charles Bethea, curator of the DuSable Museum of African American History, comments: “Finally setting the record straight, the book brings to the forefront the cultural awakening of black consciousness exploding in the Midwest during the first half of the 20th-century. Bone and Courage masterfully blend the history of Chicago’s South Side as the incubator of cultural expression and the black aesthetic in page-turning prose.”

• Eminent historian David Levering Lewis writes: “Richard Courage’s monumental The Muse in Bronzeville completes Robert Bone’s ambitious Chicago project and provides a shift of focus in African American literary scholarship. Chicago finally emerges as the vibrant counterpart of the Harlem Renaissance.”

• Distinguished literary scholar Amritjit Singh observes: “The Muse synthesizes wide-ranging material . . . into a compelling critical narrative. . . . Bone and Courage move astutely from close readings of novels and poems to richly informative analyses of musical performances and visual works of art. . . . The authors have unearthed historical gems that extend or challenge our understanding of how various actors situated themselves during this turbulent period.”

Richard Wright Screen Test for “Native Son”

Posted on October 20, 2011 | No Comments

Richard Wright’s screen test for the role of “Bigger Thomas” in Native Son (1948).

3 scenes, 2 takes each, approximately 7 1/2 minutes

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