Dark Voices: W. E. B. Du Bois and American Thought, 1888-1903

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University of Chicago Press, 1995 - 294 pages
Dark Voices is the first sustained examination of the intellectual formation of W. E. B. Du Bois, tracing the scholar and civil rights leader's thought from his undergraduate days in the 1880s to the 1903 publication of his masterpiece, The Souls of Black Folk, and offering a new reading of his work from this period.

Bringing to light materials from the Du Bois archives that have not been discussed before, Shamoon Zamir explores Du Bois's deep engagement with American and European philosophy and social science. He examines the impact on Du Bois of his studies at Harvard with William James and George Santayana, and shows how the experience of post-Reconstruction racism moved Du Bois from metaphysical speculation to the more instrumentalist knowledge of history and the new discipline of sociology, as well as toward the very different kind of understanding embodied in the literary imagination. Providing a new and detailed reading of The Souls of Black Folk in comparison with Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind, Zamir challenges accounts that place Du Bois alongside Emerson and James, or characterize him as a Hegelian idealist. This reading also explores Du Bois's relationship to African American folk culture, and shows how Du Bois was able to dramatize the collapse of many of his hopes for racial justice and liberation.

The first book to place The Souls of Black Folk in its intellectual context, Dark Voices is a case study of African American literary development in relation to the broader currents of European and American thought.
 

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Contents

Race and Multiplicity An Introduction
1
From the South to the Seventh Ward
21
Great Men Great Laws and the Fourth Dimension The Crisis of Hero System and Nation
23
Traveling in Time
25
The Accommodation of William James
32
Satire and Historicism
46
Representing Civilization
60
Local Knowledge in the Shadow of Liberty Science Society and Legitimacy
68
The Contradiction of Double Aims and The Talented Tenth
133
James Santayana Emerson
153
A Prosody of Those Dark Voices The Transformation of Consciousness
169
Using an Unusable Past
173
Voices from the Caverns and the Guardians of the Folk
178
The Senses of Prophetic Imagination
192
Toward Revolution
199
Conclusion
207

Will and Law Revisited
71
History Sociology and Exceptionalism
81
Science Literature and Understanding
93
The Souls of Black Folk
111
DoubleConsciousness Locating the Self
113
Hegel in America
119
W E B Du Boiss A Vacation Unique
217
Notes
227
Bibliography
267
Index
283
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