A Gift of the Spirit: Reading the Souls of Black Folk

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Overview

In A Gift of the Spirit, Eugene Victor Wolfenstein offers a reading of W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk aimed at demonstrating its organic unity and coherence. He takes as his interpretive key the experience of the color line with which Du Bois's narrative begins—the incident from his youth in which a white girl refused his offer of a visiting card. Wolfenstein contends that this instance of misrecognition makes visible an aesthetic and affective configuration involving insult and injury, both racial and personal; anger as the immediate response to the humiliating wound; and, when that anger is suppressed, a melancholy retreat from the site of injury. As Wolfenstein reconstructs it, Souls tells the story of Du Bois's twofold approach to waging the battle for recognition: proud and disciplined resistance to the impositions and injustices of white supremacy; and the development of an intellectual station above the field of battle, where it could be surveyed from on high.With its serious and respectful approach to this canonical work in African American social theory, A Gift of the Spirit is a fitting tribute to the enduring relevance of Du Bois's singular achievement.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Political theorists have only recently begun to give W. E. B. Du Bois's work the careful and close readings it deserves. Victor Wolfenstein's detailed and subtle interpretation of The Souls of Black Folk is a major contribution to this new and welcome trend, and with great insight makes the case for the value of a sustained, psychoanalytic reading of Du Bois's great book."—Robert Gooding-Williams, University of Chicago
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801473531
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: Psychoanalysis and Social Theory Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Eugene Victor Wolfenstein is Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Los Angeles and from 1988 to 2002 was a member of the faculty of the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute. His previous books include Inside/Outside Nietzsche: Psychoanalytic Explorations, also from Cornell, Psychoanalytic-Marxism: Groundwork, and The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution.
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Table of Contents


Preface     ix
Setting the Stage     1
Through a Glass Darkly     18
"Be Your Own Father"     27
Humani Nihil A Me Alienum Puto     38
Go Down, Moses     48
Betrayals     52
Vindicating Enlightenment     61
In the Shadows of Slavery     83
The Religious Ties That Bind     94
My Home Is Over Jordan     101
So Many Rivers to Cross     104
The Wayfarer     127
Consolation     135
Notes     147
References     161
Index     167
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