Harles Chesnutt Debates Washington and Du Bois
In this project, you will create a dialogue between Charles Chesnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington. The aim of this assignment is to rethink and specify the role of the Du Bois/Washington debate in African American cultural consciousness.
To complete this assignment, choose three short passages (sentence-length) from each text—Chesnutts The Goophered Grapevine, Du Boiss The Souls of Black Folk, and Washingtons Up From Slavery. These passages should relate to each other in some way, according to your sensibility. Transcribe these passages into your word processor document as if you are writing a play, like so:
CHESNUTT: But ef you en young miss dere doan min lisnin to a ole nigger run on a minute er two wile you er restin, I kin splain to you how it all happen (607).
DU BOIS: Douglass, in his old age, still bravely stood for the ideas of his early manhood,—ultimate assimilation through self-assertion, and on no other terms (703).
WASHINGTON: The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which one can be gotten from contact with great men and women (591).
Once you have transcribed your passages, think about the deeper logic that knits them together. Think too about the gaps you see—in ideology, content, rhetoric, and style. Its your job to address the deeper logic and the gaps by filling in the blanks, by imagining the conversation that these three major figures might have. Your goal, then, is to produce a transcript of their conversation, a play or drama or remix of your creation. As you do so, consider your options: Might you need other characters? Or can you imagine this conversation among only these three men?