The year 2013 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of W.E.B. DuBois’ death. As the premier historian, sociologist, and civil rights activist of the twentieth century, DuBois certainly left his mark within the African Diaspora and beyond. His seminal work, The Souls of Black Folk (1903) includes his prescient formulation that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Later on, he published Black Reconstruction (1935) and founded two journals, Phylon and The Crisis—this latter one was the official publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Long before becoming a prolific man of letters, DuBois was born and raised in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His experience growing up there became pivotal to his life, such as his initial realization of race which occurred in elementary school. This incident began his lifelong observations on race and education, especially after being the first African-American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University. A half century after his death, DuBois is very pertinent not only to African-Americans, but to NeMLA too, as we attempt to link the conference to its Boston location. One way to do this is to remember this formidable scholar on the anniversary of his passing. With that said, this panel solicits papers that reflect upon the myriad influences DuBois has had on literature. Papers that examine his influence on contemporary literature are particularly welcome. Is the problem of the twenty-first century still the problem of the color line, or are there other ways in which his astute commentaries resonate with contemporary texts?
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