Humanities 110

Introduction to the Humanities

Humanities 110—Du Bois’s “Double Consciousness” as Theory and Form

Nathalia King David Eddings Professor of English and Humanities

MARCH 11, 2020

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This lecture was presented by Nathalia King, David Eddings Professor of English and Humanities, on March 11, 2020.

The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois is a monumental work that is difficult to classify because it ranges from philosophy to sociology to history to social theory to fiction to music to politics. It is centrally concerned with what it means to be black in America circa 1900—and beyond. In the sections we are reading, Du Bois articulates his theory of “double consciousness,” advocates for equal rights and racial uplift through education, speaks out against the white supremacist agenda, and examines African American culture and religion. In his protest of racist violence and ideology, he cites instances of lynching, racist language, and sexual assault.

W.E.B. Du Bois was a historian, sociologist, and activist with a multifaceted career. He was a prolific and influential writer from the 1890s to 1960, best known for The Souls of Black Folk (1903) and Black Reconstruction in America (1935). Read a brief biography of Du Bois here.

We are reading selected chapters from Souls of Black Folk. Read a summary of the entire book here.