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Interactive video lesson plan for: 2. Richard Wright, Black Boy

Activity overview:

The American Novel Since 1945 (ENGL 291)

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.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Classifying the Literary Object: Fiction and Autobiography
06:06 - Chapter 2. Choices in the Construction of an Autobiography: A Close Reading of the First Scene
11:26 - Chapter 3. Decoding Meaning in Wright's Descriptive "Catalogs"
16:58 - Chapter 4. Powerlessness and Exertions of Agency
28:00 - Chapter 5. Language and Power: The Voices of the Author
38:36 - Chapter 6. The Fisher-Wright Letters: Author vs. Audience, How Outside Forces Shape the Formation of a Personal Account

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Spring 2008.

Tagged under: agency,language,Bildungsroman,deprivation,double,consciousness,grammar,race,imagination,nationalism,Naturalism,Social,Realism

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