Facilitator: Josuee H
For Truth’s Sake: Richard Wright’s Harlem Renaissance
Relatively successful compared to many of his peers, Richard Wright came into his own during the 1930s, at the height of the Great Depression and before the era-destroying World War II. In many ways, Wright’s writing was the apotheosis of what W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke had set out to actualize during the early years of the Harlem Renaissance; that is, an artist with an express objective to incite social change.
How he went about this objective, however, was a different story. Far and away one of the more controversial authors of the Harlem Renaissance both then and now, Wright eschewed more nuanced approaches to writing and delved directly into the deepest fears of the American psyche, dwelling in the most vulnerable space of so-called “race relations.”
With this in mind, for this week’s selection we’ll be reading a short story by Wright titled “The Man Who Killed a Shadow.” Published posthumously in a collection called Eight Men, “The Man Who Killed a Shadow” is a microcosm of many of Wright’s most recognizable themes: racism, sexualization, violence, and psychology. As such, it serves as an example of the “Urban Realism” wing of the Harlem Renaissance.
The text can be read here: https://docdro.id/BHZv8kV
We hope that you’ll join us for this discussion on Richard Wright, itself a part of our larger Intro to the Harlem Renaissance series! No prior knowledge is necessary, simply bring an open mind and be ready to talk literature 🙂
Disclaimer: Wright’s works deal heavily with issues of racism, sex, and violence, among others; it is expected that all participants will have acknowledged the existence of these oppressive frameworks, be aware of their graphic depiction and, with their fellow participants in mind, approach them tactfully. Thank you.