Lecture 2 - Richard Wright, Black Boy

author: Amy Hungerford, Department of English, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: April 8, 2011,   recorded: January 2008,   views: 3444
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

Professor Amy Hungerford continues her discussion of Richard Wright's classic American autobiography, Black Boy. Through a close analysis of key passages, she demonstrates an oscillation in the narrative between the socioeconomic deprivations and racial jeopardy confronting its characters, and the compensations to be found in sensual experience, the imagination, and in particular, the power of words. Dramatizing the editorial struggle evident in letters between Wright and Book-of-the-Month-Club-President Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Professor Hungerford shows the high stakes of Wright's uncompromising portrait of America's failed ideals at a time when those ideals are being tested during the Second World War.

Reading assignment:

Richard Wright, Black Boy (selections: 1-83, 244-283, original published ending, in note on 412-415); Letters between Dorothy Canfield-Fisher and Richard Wright about revising the ending of Black Boy for the Book of the Month Club.

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