Myers and DuBois

Vocabulary in Myers and DuBois:

Background on Myers:

Background on DuBois:

Today's activities:

STEP ONE:  Understanding Myers

A.  Three groups (10 minutes):  Try to work with people whom you do not know well.  Each group should summarize what Myers says about one of the following things and then report to the class.  Find at least two key passages to support your position.  If you finish your topic early, begin discussing one of the other topics. 

STEP TWO:  Understanding DuBois's Concepts

A.  Let us work together now to establish definitions of terms that DuBois uses on page 65:  "seventh son," "second-sight," "self-consciousness," "double-consciousness," and "twoness."  All of these appear on page 65, column 2, full paragraph 1.  Read the par. twice and discuss it as a whole class.

B.  How do Myers's ideas about community, prejudice, and conformity apply to DuBois's text (or not)?  Stay in your groups and keep working and then report to the class.

STEP THREE:  DuBois's Allusions

What allusions strengthen DuBois's argument?  What do these allusions imply regarding the nature of human disillusionment?  What power do they lend to DuBois's argument?

STEP FOUR:  Critique of DuBois

Do you disagree with anything in his text?  The Souls of Black Folk is over one hundred years old.  Are DuBois's ideas still current?  This will be large-group discussion.  Identify specific places in his text where you find things that are accurate or inaccurate in terms of your contemporary experience.  For example, are African Americans still guilty of "often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation" (66)?

STEP FIVE:  Connections to Other Texts

A.  What would Plato say about the following quotation (page 68, left column)?  This will also be large-group discussion.

Whisperings and portents came borne upon the four winds:  Lo! we are diseased and dying, cried the dark hosts; we cannot write, our voting is vain; what need of education, since we must always cook and serve?  And the Nation echoed and enforced this self criticism, saying:  Be content to be servants, and nothing more; what need of higher culture for half-men?

B.   How would you evaluate Myers's and DuBois's positions on "Diversity and the Other" (the section title in your anthology) in light of The Secret?

C.  We concluded that Lakoff and Johnson's work on metaphor supports the idea that "thoughts are things."  In other words, how you think about something shapes your reality.  In the context of DuBois's work, then, black people are not only receiving objects but also acting subjects with the power to determine their own situation and destiny.  Are there glimmers of this idea in DuBois's text?