Approaches to Teaching Wright's Native Son

Overview

Richard Wright predicted that Bigger Thomas, his most powerful literary creation, would become "a symbolic figure of American life, a figure who would hold within him the prophecy of our future." The essays collected in this volume attest to the accuracy of that prediction and to the ability of Native Son—even after half a century—to fascinate, shock, and divide its readers. The novel raises many challenging questions for today's teachers and students: How much did Wright's radical political views influence the ...

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Overview

Richard Wright predicted that Bigger Thomas, his most powerful literary creation, would become "a symbolic figure of American life, a figure who would hold within him the prophecy of our future." The essays collected in this volume attest to the accuracy of that prediction and to the ability of Native Son—even after half a century—to fascinate, shock, and divide its readers. The novel raises many challenging questions for today's teachers and students: How much did Wright's radical political views influence the fabric of the novel? Is Bigger a racial archetype or racial stereotype? How does one reconcile Bigger's claims of free will with the book's grim environmental determinism? Who is responsible for the tragedy of Bigger Thomas?

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface to the Series
Preface to the Volume
Pt. 1 Materials
Readings for Students 3
The Instructor's Library 3
Pt. 2 Approaches
Introduction 11
Native Son: Six Versions Seeking Interpretation 16
Seeing Native Son 22
Teaching Native Son in a German Undergraduate Literature Class 28
Literacy and the Liberation of Bigger Thomas 35
Native Son as Project 42
Race and the Teaching of Native Son 48
A Missionary to "Her People" Teaches Native Son 54
Native Son and Its Readers 67
On Women, Teaching, and Native Son 75
Teaching Interculturalism: Symbiosis, Interpretation and Native Son 81
The Covert Psychoanalysis of Native Son 89
Native Son as Depiction of a Carceral Society 95
Lessons in Truth: Teaching Ourselves and Our Students Native Son 102
Max, Media, and Mimesis: Bigger's Representation in Native Son 112
Doing the (W)Right Thing: Approaching Wright and Lee 120
Contributors and Survey Participants 127
Works Cited 129
Index 139
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