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March One-Day Workshops

Curriculum Conversation: Richard Wright’s Black Boy (American Hunger)

March 14, 2014

Curriculum Conversation: Richard Wright’s <em>Black Boy (American Hunger)</em>

“…all I possessed were words and dim knowledge that my country had shown me no examples of how to live a human life.” 

IWT Curriculum Conversations reinvigorate the teaching of “canonical” texts through diverse writing-to-learn practices. These conversations foster innovative approaches to teaching canonical texts and lead to new ways in which to help students experience and understand their enduring relevance. This year, we turn to Richard Wright’s Black Boy (American Hunger), a book that is both an intellectual autobiography of a black, Southern man and an inquiry into how we might live a human life shaped by law, custom, ethnic and multiracial spaces, and encounters. We’ll ask: What can Black Boy (American Hunger) and the autobiographical form tell us about our American experience—both historical and contemporary? What role do autobiography and the proliferation of contemporary autobiographies play in our current intellectual or American experience? Or, as Ralph Ellison asks in “Richard Wright’s Blues,” “What in the tradition of literary autobiography is Black Boy (American Hunger) like, this work described as a ‘great American autobiography’?” And how has the historical reception of, and reading of, Black Boy (American Hunger) contributed to our contemporary sense of an evolving American self?

 Writing-to-learn practices are the starting point for a rigorous reading of the text and for multiple readings through the lens of contemporary—and historical—nonfiction, fiction, and poetry.

Please be sure to get "The Restored Text Established by The Library of America" (ISBN: 978-0060929787)

Workshop fee: $200 (includes morning coffee, lunch, and anthology of related readings)