This volume assembles essential essayssome published only posthumously, others obscure, another only recently translatedby W. E. B. Du Bois from 1894 to early 1906. They show the first formulations of some of his most famous ideas, namely, “the veil,” “double-consciousness,” and the “problem of the color line.” Moreover, the deep historical sense of the formation of the modern world that informs Du Bois’s thought and gave rise to his understanding of “the problem of the color line” is on display here. Indeed, the essays constitute an essential companion to Du Bois’s masterpiece published in 1903 as The Souls of Black Folk.
The collection is based on two editorial principles: presenting the essays in their entirety and in strict chronological order. Copious annotation affords both student and mature scholar an unprecedented grasp of the range and depth of Du Bois’s everyday intellectual and scholarly reference.
These essays commence at the moment of Du Bois’s return to the United States from two years of graduate-level study in Europe at the University of Berlin. At their center is the moment of Du Bois’s first full, self-reflexive formulation of a sense of vocation: as a student and scholar in the pursuit of the human sciences (in their still-nascent disciplinary organizationthat is, the institutionalization of a generalized “sociology” or general “ethnology”), as they could be brought to bear on the study of the situation of the so-called Negro question in the United States in all of its multiply refracting dimensions. They close with Du Bois’s realization that the commitments orienting his work and intellectual practice demanded that he move beyond the institutional frames for the practice of the human sciences.
The ideas developed in these early essays remained the fundamental matrix for the ongoing development of Du Bois’s thought. The essays gathered here will therefore serve as the essential reference for those seeking to understand the most profound registers of this major American thinker.
About the Author
W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) was a leading scholar, writer, and political activist. For twenty-three years he was the editor of The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races. Apart from hundreds of essays and diverse short works, he published more than twenty book length texts during his lifetime, among the most well-known of which are The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, and The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches.
Nahum Dimitri Chandler serves on the faculty of the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine, in African American Studies, ComparativeLiterature, and European Languages and Studies. He is the author of X: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought and The Problem of Pure Being: Annotations on the Early Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and the Discourses of the Negro, both from Fordham, as well as Toward an African Future – Of the Limit of World.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Nahum Dimitri Chandler i-xliv
1. The Afro-American (circa 1894)
2. The Conservation of Races (1897)
3. Strivings of the Negro People (1897)
4. The Study of the Negro Problems (1898)
5. The Present Outlook for the Dark Races of Mankind
6. The Spirit of Modern Europe (1900)
7. The Freedmen's Bureau (1901)
8. The Relation of the Negroes to the Whites in the South (1901)
9. The Talented Tenth (1903)
10. The Development of a People (1904)
11. Sociology Hesitant (circa 1905)
12. Die Negerfrage in den Vereinigten Staaten
(The Negro Question in the United States) (1906)