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Reaping Something NewAfrican American Transformations of Victorian Literature$
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Daniel Hack

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196930

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196930.001.0001

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The Citational Soul of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois

The Citational Soul of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois

(p.176) Chapter Six The Citational Soul of Black Folk: W.E.B. Du Bois
Reaping Something New

Daniel Hack

Princeton University Press

This chapter turns to W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk and its deployment of nineteenth-century British literature. Du Bois himself tends to attract the adjective “Victorian” as a descriptor—of his intellectual formation, his prose style, his aesthetic, his morality—with greater frequency than virtually any other figure in the African American literary and intellectual tradition. The chapter shows that critics have been too quick to generalize about the presence of nineteenth-century British literature in Souls. They have rarely asked why Du Bois selected the specific authors, texts, and passages he cites or how these citations contribute to and intervene in a tradition of African American citation and intertextuality. Addressing these questions not only nuances our understanding of Du Bois's rhetorical strategy but also leads us to reconsider a seemingly settled question in the scholarship on Souls: the role Du Bois assigns culture in the fight for racial equality.

Keywords:   W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, African American citation, intertextuality, rhetorical strategy, racial equality, culture

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