W.E.B. Du Bois Questions

W.E.B. DU BOIS QUESTIONS FOR ENGLISH 492 THEORY, CSU FULLERTON

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W.E.B. DU BOIS, "CRITERIA OF NEGRO ART"

Assigned: W.E.B. Du Bois. "Criteria of Negro Art" (870-77 Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, 2nd edition).

"CRITERIA OF NEGRO ART"

1. On 870-71 of "Criteria of Negro Art," how does Du Bois set forth what he implies are the divergent experiences and views of white and black Americans, respectively?

2. On 872-73 of "Criteria of Negro Art," Du Bois addresses the proper material of African-American art. What is that material, and why does the word "romance" seem appropriate to him as a descriptive term for such material? What main example does he provide?

3. On 873-74 of "Criteria of Negro Art," Du Bois criticizes the assimilationist (my term) tendency that he finds in certain black artists of his time. What does the term "assimilationism" mean as we use it today? What corrosive effects does Du Bois attribute to this approach, and how does it avoid recognition of what DuBois, in The Souls of Black Folk (published in 1903), had called the key issue of the 20th Century: "the color line"?

4. On 874-75 of "Criteria of Negro Art," Du Bois parses what white people in the 1920s apparently want from any engagement with art created by black people. What kinds of representations do they want, and what kinds will they either discourage or censor?

5. On 875-77 of "Criteria of Negro Art," Du Bois offers a peroration that focuses on the deep value of art and literature to the spiritual aspirations and material development of African-Americans. How does he characterize that value? In doing so, how does he also reject the formalist notion that art is simply a confined sort of aesthetic appreciation, or for that matter the common notion that the arts amount to little more than entertainment?

Edition: Leitch, Vincent B. and William E. Cain. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd edition. Norton, 2010. ISBN-13: 978-0393932928.