Art in Crisis: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Struggle for African American Identity and Memory

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Overview

The Crisis was an integral element of the struggle to combat racism in America. As editor of the magazine (1910–1934), W. E. B. Du Bois addressed the important issues facing African Americans. He used the journal as a means of racial uplift, celebrating the joys and hopes of African American culture and life, and as a tool to address the injustices black Americans experienced—the sorrows of persistent discrimination and racial terror, and especially the crime of lynching. The written word was not sufficient. Visual imagery was central to bringing his message to the homes of readers and emphasizing the importance of the cause. Art was integral to his political program. Art in Crisis: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Struggle for African American Identity and Memory reveals how W. E. B. Du Bois created a "visual vocabulary" to define a new collective memory and historical identity for African Americans.

Indiana University Press

Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC)
2007 Winner, Book of the Year for Excellence in Scholarly Research and Publication

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

"... a reminder of the usage and power of visual images to shape ideas and instill self—worth and opinions in American society.... Recommended. General readers; lower—division undergraduates through faculty." —Choice

Jhistory

"As the first book to examine Du Bois's use of imagery to create racial pride and convey moral outrage, Art in Crisis offers important insights into the history of visual journalism as well as the contributions of one of the twentieth—century's most significant black periodicals..." —Jhistory

African American Review
"... valuable. It supplies a concise account of Du Bois's inclusion of art during his editorship of the magazine. It focuses us on the abundance and high quality of the art included and begins the important job of remembering and documenting the work of black artists now too often forgotten.... Art in Crisis makes readily accessible to a wide range of readers a rich sampling of work from The Crisis's formative period." —Elizabeth Ammons, Tufts University, AFRICAN AMERICAN REVIEW, Vol.42.2 (rec'd April 2009)

— Elizabeth Ammons, Tufts University

Journal of African American History
"[T]he paramount value of Kirschke's laudable acoomplishment is that she has simultaneously added to the Du Boisian mystique, while providing a new understanding and appreciation for his role in shaping the manner in which African Americans viewed themselves and were perceived by others." —Randall O. Westbrook, Fairleigh-Dickinson University, Journal of African American History, Vol. 94.1 Fall 2009

— Randall O. Westbrook, Fairleigh-Dickinson University

Cary D. Wintz

"An important contribution to the study of African American art as well as to our understanding of the Harlem Renaissance, W.E.B. Du Bois, African American politics, and African American journalism. Very little work has been done on African American periodical art [or] on Du Bois's use of images. This alone makes this a valuable book." —Cary D. Wintz, author of Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance

From the Publisher

"Amy Kirschke's Art in Crisis is a fine, significant book, long overdue. It reminds us again of the power of illustrations from Daumier to Du Bois to expose cant and corruption and to promote honesty and justice. —David Levering Lewis, University Professor, NYU, and author of the Pulitzer Prize—winning tw" —volume biography of W.E.B. Du Bois

Indiana University Press

AFRICAN AMERICAN REVIEW - Elizabeth Ammons

"... valuable. It supplies a concise account of Du Bois's inclusion of art during his editorship of the magazine. It focuses us on the abundance and high quality of the art included and begins the important job of remembering and documenting the work of black artists now too often forgotten.... Art in Crisis makes readily accessible to a wide range of readers a rich sampling of work from The Crisis's formative period." —Elizabeth Ammons, Tufts University, AFRICAN AMERICAN REVIEW, Vol.42.2 (rec'd April 2009)

Journal of African American History - Randall O. Westbrook

"[T]he paramount value of Kirschke's laudable acoomplishment is that she has simultaneously added to the Du Boisian mystique, while providing a new understanding and appreciation for his role in shaping the manner in which African Americans viewed themselves and were perceived by others." —Randall O. Westbrook, Fairleigh-Dickinson University, Journal of African American History, Vol. 94.1 Fall 2009

Choice
In the struggle for African American equality in the early 20th century, The Crisis, an African American newspaper, played a highly successful role in expressing the frustrations and dreams of the black community. Kirschke . . . delves into the illustrated rhetoric of the book and explores how Du Bois used the illustrations in The Crisis as a powerful instrument of change and as a means to educate and uplift African Americans, as well as to counteract the negative image of blacks. . . . The book at its best is a reminder of the usage and power of visual images to shape ideas and instill self-worth and opinions in American society. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
H-NET (J-History)
. . . . [O]ffers important insights into the history of visual journalism as well as the contributions of one of the twentieth-century's most significant black periodicals.
—Linda Lumsden, Department of Journalism, University of Arizona
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253218131
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Helene Kirschke is Associate Professor of Art and Art History and African American Studies at the University of North Carolina–Wilmington. She is author of Aaron Douglas: Art, Race, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. W. E. B. Du Bois and African American Memory and Identity
2. A History of Black Political Cartoons and Illustrations: The Artists
3. The "Crime" of Blackness: Lynching Imagery in The Crisis
4. Theories of Art, Patronage, and Audience
5. Images of Africa and the Diaspora
6. Art, Political Commentary, and Forging a Common Identity
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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