A Gift of the Spirit: Reading The Souls of Black Folk
In A Gift of the Spirit, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein offers a reading of W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk aimed at demonstrating its organic unity and coherence. He takes as his interpretive key the experience of the color line with which Du Bois's narrative begins—the incident from his youth in which a white girl refused his offer of a visiting card. Wolfenstein contends that this instance of misrecognition makes visible an aesthetic and affective configuration involving insult and injury, both racial and personal; anger as the immediate response to the humiliating wound; and, when that anger is suppressed, a melancholy retreat from the site of injury. As Wolfenstein reconstructs it, Souls tells the story of Du Bois's twofold approach to waging the battle for recognition: proud and disciplined resistance to the impositions and injustices of white supremacy; and the development of an intellectual station above the field of battle, where it could be surveyed from on high.With its serious and respectful approach to this canonical work in African American social theory, A Gift of the Spirit is a fitting tribute to the enduring relevance of Du Bois's singular achievement.
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African African-American African-American identity Alexander Crummell Altamaha American anger Atlanta University Autobiography Black Belt black folk Bois Bois's Burghardt chap chapter characterizes child color-line Coming of John culture dark Dawn of Freedom death double-consciousness Dougherty County Du Bois's experience father feeling feminization Fisk Freedmen's Bureau Gooding-Williams Gospel of Sacrifice Hegel Hegelian Hence hero-narrator Hose human humiliating ibid imagine intellectual interpretation John Jones Jones's Josie lifeworld live lynching Mary Silvina Meaning of Progress mind mis-recognition mother narrative Negro Niggers oedipal pain perhaps perspective Phenomenology of Spirit political problem psychoanalytic race racial leadership recognition relationship renunciation revolt and revenge Sam Hose shadow slave slavery social sociological sorrow songs Souls of Black South Spiritual Strivings story struggle sublime Sundquist Talented Tenth tion two-ness Veil vertical visiting-card incident voice W. E. B. Du Bois Washington white supremacy Wings of Atalanta words young