About the Symposium

Schedule for Sessions

Friday, 10 October

All sessions take place on the second floor of The Muske Archives, unless noted.

Session 1 - 9:30– 10:50 a.m.

“Of the Passing”
Karla F. C. Holloway, Duke University

In one of the most poignant autobiographical chapters of The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois comes to the lamentable conclusion that it was better for his infant son to have died than to have grown up in racist America. This session examines the intersections of the public cultures of melancholy and the private spaces of grief. Dr. Holloway explores this topic in her most recent book, the award-winning Passed On: African American Mourning Stories (Duke University Press, 2002).

Moderator: Carole A. Taylor, Department of English, Bates College

Session 2 - 11:00–11:55 a.m.

“The Gift of Black Folk”
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, Colby College

Du Bois was one of the architects of the modern discipline of sociology. Professor Gilkes assesses his significance to the development of the social sciences in America. Prof. Gilkes, a sociologist and an ordained Baptist minister, is preparing an introduction for the re-publication of Du Bois’s 1924 book The Gift of Black Folk: The Negro in the Making of America.

Moderator: Kimberly Ruffin, Department of English, Bates College

Session 3 - 1:10 p.m.–2:30 p.m.

Beyond Containment: The Life of Claudia Jones”
Carole Boyce Davies, Florida International University

Claudia Jones (1915 1964) feminist, black nationalist, political activist, community leader, and journalist was profoundly influenced by W. E. B. Du Bois and his work. Jones was born in Belmont, Port of Spain, Trinidad and at the age of eight moved to Harlem, New York with her parents and three sisters. In 1955 she was deported from the United States and given asylum in England, where she spent her remaining years working with London's African Caribbean community. Claudia Jones helped launch London’s Notting Hill carnival in1959 as an annual showcase for Caribbean talent. This annual
celebration is epitomised by the slogan, “A people's art is the genesis of their freedom.” Professor Boyce Davies is completing Left of Karl Marx, a book on the Caribbean feminist activist and an edition of Jones’s essays, Beyond Containment: Claudia Jones, Activist Politics and Vision.

Moderator: Leslie I. Hill, Political Science, Bates College

Session 4 - 2:40 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

“The Female Folk South Figure in Pauline Hopkins’s Fiction”
Barbara McCaskill, University of Georgia at Athens

“The Parable of Two Johns: White Riot and Black Preclusion in DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk”
Sheila Smith McKoy, North Carolina State University

This session examines The Souls of Black Folk in the context of black literary traditions. Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins was an African American female writer and a contemporary of Du Bois. Prof. McCaskill examines the mutual interests that Hopkins and Du Bois shared in representing the plight of African American women in the post-Civil War south. White violence against African Americans has been a persistent fact of American life and culture. Prof. McKoy, who has examined the relationship between violence and black literatures in her book When Whites Riot: Writing Race and Violence in American and South African Cultures (University of Wisconsin Press 2001), pays attention to the legacy of violence in The Souls of Black Folk.

Moderator: Margaret Creighton, History and Chair of American Cultural Studies, Bates College

Session 5 - 4:10–5:45 p.m.

Brooks Quimby Debate

In one of the most famous statements from The Souls of Black Folk Du Bois declared that “One ever feels his two-ness,–an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” The award-winning Brooks Quimby Debate Council takes this famous remark as the subject for their debate to examine which come first–loyalty to race or to nation.

Session 6 - 8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. Gannett Theater (Located in Pettigrew Hall)

Of the Coming of John: A Reader's Theater Performance

This session explores through dramatic form the discussion of violence that Du Bois began in The Souls of Black Folk. Charles I. Nero adapted and staged for performance “Of the Coming of John,” the only work of fiction in Souls. The subjects of this short story include interracial male desire, lynching, and opera.

The Souls of Black Women Folk: Voices of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921

Professor Olga Idriss Davis of Arizona State University presents a one-woman performance in several voices based upon her interviews with survivors and their descendants of the Tulsa race riot of 1921.

These performances are made possible through the generous support of the Theatre and Rhetoric Department at Bates College.

Saturday, 11 October

Session 7 - 10:00 a.m.–11:20 a.m.

"The Reality of the Unseen: William James, W.E.B. Du Bois and The Souls of Black
Marcus Bruce, Bates College

"What Does Germany Have to Do with The Souls of Black Folk?"
Sieglinde Lemke, Free University of Berlin

This panel examines the academic and intellectual foundations of The Souls of Black Folk. Du Bois studied at Harvard University with the philosopher William James and did post-graduate work at the University of Berlin. Both panelists bring to their presentations extensive research on the relationships between Europeans and American cultures. Prof. Bruce, who teaches advanced seminars on Du Bois and James, recently published a biography of the African American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner, who achieved his greatest successes as an expatriate in France. Prof. Lemke explores the interpaly of European and American culture in Primitivist Modernism; Black Culture and the Origins of Transatlantic
Modernism (Oxford University Press, 1998).

Moderator: Sue Houchins, African American Studies, Bates College

Session 8 - 1:10 p.m.–2:30 p.m.

"Remapping the Color Line: Du Bois, African Americans and Asia"
Gerald Horne, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

“The Black and Brown Color Lines: Du Bois and Latina/o Identities”
Claudia Milian, Brown University

This session examines the significance of Du Bois and his ideas about the color-line and double-consciousness among peoples of color. Prof. Milian discusses the intersection of Du Boisian double consciousness and Gloria Anzaldua's borderlands, and how these two theories advance news ways for re reading African American, Latina, and Latino literatures.

Moderator: Czerny Brasuell, Director of Multicultural Affairs, Bates College

Session 9 - 2:40 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Tony Monteiro, University of the Sciences of Philadelphia

John McClendon, “Dialectical Idealism, Double Consciousness and the Reconstruction of African American Philosophy.”

This session examines the significance of Du Bois’s work to current scholarly practices within the academy and their relationship to democratic cultures. Prof. McClendon examines The Souls of Black Folk and prior works such as The Conservation of Races, which point to a radical formulation of a philosophy of history.


Session 10 - 4:10–5:30 p.m.

DuBois, Knowledge, Critical Theory and the Politics of Black Radicalism.”
Anthony Bogues, Brown University

This session focuses on the ways in which Du Bois’s work challenges the western knowledge regime and its importance for contemporary radical thinking. Prof. Bogues extends the arguments that Du Bois made in Souls by examining some of his later works, including the majestic Black Reconstruction in America (1935).

Moderator: Charles V. Carnegie, Anthropology and Chair of African American Studies, Bates College

Session 11 - 8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m. Olin Arts Concert Hall

“W. E. B. Du Bois and African American Sacred Music”
Joyce M. Jackson, Louisiana State University

A Concert of Spirituals and Jubilees from The Souls of Black Folk
Chauncey Packer, tenor

Each of the fourteen chapters of The Souls of Black Folk contains an epigram consisting of an excerpt from a European or Euro-American writer and a mysterious staff of music. These staffs were melodies from African American spirituals. This session examines Du Bois’s celebration of African American sacred music. Prof. Joyce Jackson, an ethnomusicologist, has conducted extensive research on African American religious music, including southern gospel quartets and African cultural retentions in church celebrations in Louisiana and Texas. Chauncey Packer most recently performed in Verdi’s Rigoletto and Gershwin’s Porgy an Bess with New Orleans Opera.