Selections of the Month

Selection of the Month: April 2016

The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. (Burghardt) Du Bois
The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches

Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1909
Gould Library Special Collections 

I first encountered The Souls of Black Folks while pursuing an accounting degree at the university where Du Bois once taught, Clark Atlanta University. This encounter changed my worldview, and was pivotal in my decision to pursue graduate degrees in African and African American Studies and in the histories of Africa and the African Diaspora. Published in 1903, it has come to be regarded as a classic work of American literature, a foundational work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. It contains a collection of several essays that cover such topics as race, history, education, sociology, and religion. Du Bois coined the notion of “double-consciousness;” he defined it as a “sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”

 —Thabiti Willis, Assistant Professor of History