Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis: African American Writers in Europe [1st ed.] 9783030485948, 9783030485955

This book focuses on teaching African American literature through experiential praxis. Specifically, the book presents s

885 121 2MB

English Pages X, 132 [136] Year 2020

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis: African American Writers in Europe [1st ed.]
 9783030485948, 9783030485955

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-x
A Call to Travel: Teaching African American Literature via Study Abroad (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 1-5
Teaching Travel Skills with Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge” (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 7-20
Frederick Douglass’ Didactic Travel in My Bondage and My Freedom (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 21-37
Booker T. Washington and Experiential Pedagogy (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 39-50
Where I Can Be Myself: Helga Crane’s Quest for Home in Quicksand (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 51-67
Teaching Social Protest Literature with Richard Wright and James Baldwin in Paris (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 69-88
When the Lesson Plan Fails: Reflecting on Teaching Lynn Nottage’s Play Las Meninas in Paris (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 89-100
Writing Reflections for Study Abroad Classes (Jennifer L. Hayes)....Pages 101-106
Back Matter ....Pages 107-132

Citation preview

Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis African American Writers in Europe Jennifer L. Hayes

Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis

Jennifer L. Hayes

Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis African American Writers in Europe

Jennifer L. Hayes Language, Literature, and Philosophy Tennessee State University Nashville, TN, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-48594-8    ISBN 978-3-030-48595-5 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: Pattern © Melisa Hasan This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG. The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

I dedicate this book to my mother Regina L. Hinds and the loving memory of my father Roderick T. Hinds, Sr. Your lessons taught me to have faith in my ideas and that through hard work I could go anywhere.

Acknowledgments

This book would not be possible without the support of various individuals. I would like to extend my dearest thanks to my mentor Dr. Claudia Barnett for her guidance. Additionally, I would like to thank my colleague and mentor Dr. Rebecca S. Dixon for encouraging my work and teaching study abroad courses with me. Dr. Michelle Pinkard your kind words and thoughtful ear helped me work through many difficult ideas. Dr. Alisa Mosely your support helped me and my students more than you know. I would like to thank Dr. Marybeth Glasman and Paola Esmieu for coordinating the Elevate event that helgped inspire this scholarship. Finally, I would like to thank the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) for the economic support in funding travel grants to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

vii

Contents

1 A Call to Travel: Teaching African American Literature via Study Abroad  1 2 Teaching Travel Skills with Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge”  7 3 Frederick Douglass’ Didactic Travel in My Bondage and My Freedom 21 4 Booker T. Washington and Experiential Pedagogy 39 5 Where I Can Be Myself: Helga Crane’s Quest for Home in Quicksand 51 6 Teaching Social Protest Literature with Richard Wright and James Baldwin in Paris 69 7 When the Lesson Plan Fails: Reflecting on Teaching Lynn Nottage’s Play Las Meninas in Paris 89

ix

x 

Contents

8 Writing Reflections for Study Abroad Classes101 Appendix107 Index129

CHAPTER 1

A Call to Travel: Teaching African American Literature via Study Abroad

Abstract  In this chapter, I document the connection of travel to the African American literary tradition from slave narratives to migration narratives. The text argues that travel is a fundamental trope within African American literature and promotes teaching the trope through study abroad. Keywords  Study abroad • Experiential praxis • Agency • African American literature The idea for this book grew out of a professional development opportunity I attended nearly four years ago. The Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) hosted a conference at Pennsylvania State University for junior faculty working at MSIs. As a part of this experience, the cohort was introduced to visiting scholars and academic consultants that wanted to encourage innovative teaching and research practices to help junior faculty navigate the transition from graduate school to the profession. At one of these sessions, I was introduced to a representative from The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). They explained the importance of study abroad to future success of students and explained that fewer than 300,000 higher education students participate in study abroad opportunities annually. The percentage of minority students participating in these courses pales in comparison to white students. As a result, the company dedicated grant money to MSIs and faculty who © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_1

1

2 

J. L. HAYES

would create courses that specifically targeted this unique part of the population. In 2017, I submitted a co-authored proposal and won the 2017 Generation Study Abroad Grant for a proposal to teach African American literature in Paris, France. That proposal foregrounded two writers from the African American expatriate tradition: Richard Wright and James Baldwin. As I began preparing with my colleague for the class, I was surprised by how many courses were taught in Paris by CIEE and other study abroad companies about American authors. However, few of these courses emphasized the contributions of African American literary figures. As a result, we created our own framework and tools for the course, but I realized this absence of scholarship regarding teaching African American literature was a fruitful space to begin a conversation about the importance of travel within the literary tradition and an opportunity to create a new wave of scholarship regarding this aspect of the tradition. Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis explores teaching African American literature with study abroad. Experiential Praxis is an umbrella term connected to John Dewey’s concept of experiential learning which he discussed in his 1938 book Experience and Education. This approach to learning involves student-centered activities that encourage student productivity outside of the classroom as a strategy for creating real world practical experience. I pair the idea of outside classroom instruction with the teaching of African American literature as a method for encouraging students to analyze the experiences of the writers that produced important works. Specifically, I emphasize the use of travel within the literature and within the lives of the writers of the tradition as a political strategy to challenge racism and social problems within the United States. African American literature is uniquely connected to the lived experiences of African American people from slavery unto the present time. Included within this rich cultural tradition are slave narratives, migration narratives, and expatriate narratives. Slave narratives from Frederick Douglass to Harriet Jacobs consider the use of travel from enslaved territories and states to free states and Canada as a resistance strategy to the barbaric system of chattel slavery. While there are other resistance and rebellious impulses documented within this body of literature, the idea of moving from one space to another to actively change one’s condition was a political statement about the methods fugitive slaves utilized to demonstrate agency over their circumstances.

1  A CALL TO TRAVEL: TEACHING AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE… 

3

Following the abolition of slavery and throughout the twentieth century, African Americans from the south relocated to the north and Midwest industrial centers searching for economic opportunity and social mobility during the Great Migration. While these quests might have secured them positions in factories after the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, African Americans soon discovered that northern and Midwestern cities were still plagued by racist practices and again sought different locales to achieve their ultimate goal of freedom. The reality is that African Americans could not outrun racism, but their journeys evidence a continual resistance movement to the subordinate roles they were relegated too through racist practices in the United States. In fact, many fled to Europe to enrich themselves by visiting cultural centers and to advocate for the uplift and liberation of their communities back home. As a result of their trips abroad, they were granted the distance to critically analyze the troubling realities of the weight of racism on their lives. This distance afforded them the space to critique and politically agitate for restoration of an America that lived up to its ideals. Thus, travel within the African American literary tradition should be seen as a revolutionary tool for action. One way to teach students about this revolutionary impulse within the African American literary tradition is to explore the locations that allowed writers to critically agitate for civil rights by following in the footsteps of writers or characters within these works. This book includes an exploration of teaching various texts from the African American literary canon from Antebellum literature to the Contemporary period in various European countries. The goal is to model exercises, assessments, and pedagogical strategies that can be adopted in teaching African American literature in the United States and abroad. By incorporating travel, from field studies that visit domestic locations to study abroad courses that venture to international locales, incorporating cocurricular activities and events should support the robust teaching that already occurs in traditional academic settings. This book includes eight chapters and an appendix with sample assignment sheets for assessments. In Chap. 2, Teaching Travel Skills with Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge,” I explore teaching Rudolph Fisher’s short story “City of Refuge” to teach travel skills. The chapter examines Solomon Gillis’ journey from North Carolina to Harlem as a cautionary tale of a figure who exposes himself to dangers while traveling by trusting strangers and not following his instincts. Through an exploration of Gillis’

4 

J. L. HAYES

mistakes, I inform faculty members embarking on study abroad courses how to teach their students practical travel strategies using literature from the African American literary tradition. In Chap. 3, “Frederick Douglass’ Didactic Travel in My Bondage and My Freedom,” I investigate teaching Frederick Douglass’ second autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom through a study abroad course to Ireland. I argue that teaching My Bondage and My Freedom in Ireland opens up a discussion for Douglass’ antislavery travels after he achieves freedom in his initial slave narrative. I argue that he extends his quest for freedom through his antislavery travels to Ireland and Great Britain. Thus, by teaching Douglass by following his freedom trail in Ireland, students are introduced to the need for an ongoing fight to secure the freedom of African Americans even after slavery is abolished. In Chap. 4, “Booker T. Washington and Experiential Pedagogy,” I pair excerpts from Booker T. Washington’s autobiographies Up from Slavery with My GreaterEducation as a strategy for teaching study abroad in Denmark. By analyzing Washington’s works, I argue that a foundational component of his pedagogical style is the incorporation of experiential praxis. For Washington, hands on learning rivals the importance of classroom-­based instruction for encouraging student development. In Chap. 5, “Where I Can Be Myself: Helga Crane’s Quest for Home in Quicksand,” I advocate applying Homi Bhabha’s concept of the “unhome” to teaching Nella Larsen’s novel Quicksand in a study abroad course to Copenhagen, Denmark. The chapter connects Helga Crane’s biracial identity to her feeling of “unhome” as the catalyst for her journey from the south, to Chicago, to Harlem, to Copenhagen, and ultimately the United States again. Finally, the text exposes how travel does not fully offer solutions for characters struggling with racism in the United States and foreshadows the difficulties later writers experience trying to navigate America’s complex racial milieu. In Chap. 6, “Teaching Social Protest Literature with Richard Wright and James Baldwin in Paris,” I propose teaching Richard Wright’s and James Baldwin’s competing ideas concerning social protest as a thematic approach to a study abroad course in Paris. This chapter models how to scaffold writing assignments to encourage inquiry regarding the usage of social protest in Post Renaissance literature. Finally, this chapter suggests cocurricular activities and events to pair with Wright’s and Baldwin’s literature in Paris.

1  A CALL TO TRAVEL: TEACHING AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE… 

5

Chapter 7, “When the Lesson Plan Fails: Reflecting on Teaching Lynn Nottage’s Play Las Meninas in Paris,” chronicles my experience developing lesson plans and assessments for a study abroad course teaching Lynn Nottage’s play Las Meninas in Paris. Overall, the chapter explores various obstacles to a successful study abroad course including student behavioral issues, problems working with study abroad companies, and unexpected challenges that arise while away such as terrorist activity or natural disasters. The chapter ends with a proposal for inquiry-based instruction in study abroad courses versus site seeing expeditions. Finally, I conclude with Chap. 8, “Writing Reflections for Study Abroad Classes.” The chapter considers the connection between low stake reflective activities and essay reflections as crucial components to study abroad courses. I argue by incorporating reflective exercises students are required to make knowledge and think critically as they experience a location. Overall, I hope this book will start a conversation regarding innovative strategies teaching African American literature abroad and domestically. By incorporating aspects of experiential praxis via study abroad courses, I hope to broaden the already robust pedagogical conversations regarding the teaching of African American literature. By critically examining the trope of travel within the literature and by the writers of the tradition, I expose an undercurrent of resistance work that contributes to the empowering impulse of African American literature.

CHAPTER 2

Teaching Travel Skills with Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge”

Abstract  In this chapter, I explore teaching Rudolph Fisher’s short story “City of Refuge” to teach travel skills. This chapter examines Solomon Gillis’ journey from North Carolina to Harlem as a cautionary tale of a figure who exposes himself to dangers while traveling by trusting strangers and not following his instincts. Through an exploration of Gillis’ mistakes, I inform faculty members embarking on study abroad courses how to teach their students practical travel strategies using literature from the African American literary tradition. Keywords  Great migration • Harlem • New Negro Renaissance • Travel skills When teaching study abroad, travel and visiting cultural sites should support the learning objectives of the course. However, if students are not adequately prepared to view travel as an integral part of the learning process, problems can arise. For this reason, it is important before students venture away from their traditional academic settings that they are acclimated to the unique expectations of a study abroad course. Failure to do so can result in the travel component of the course functioning as a getaway or vacation instead of representing a meaningful opportunity for learning. © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_2

7

8 

J. L. HAYES

Teaching “The City of Refuge” in a study abroad class represents an opportunity to explore the political nature of travel within the African American literary tradition. Mark Robert Schneider suggests that a “corresponding set of factors pulled black people to the North” including irritation with racial injustice, the desire for economic opportunities, and the promise of social services (24). “The City of Refuge” was first published in the February 25th edition of Atlantic Monthly and presents the story of a young African American man named King Solomon Gillis. Gillis’ journey from North Carolina to Harlem is a troubled one. Gillis effectively escapes a lynch mob in his home state after “accidentally” killing a White man. His journey takes him from the south, to Washington D.C., and ends in Harlem. Upon his arrival in Harlem, Gillis makes a series of bad decisions that puts him on the wrong side of the law and ironically results in his arrest. The complex social situation of the south encouraged migrants such as Gillis to use travel as a protest strategy to escape the restrictions of North Carolina. By fleeing, Gillis does not solve the issues at home, he merely avoids them because there are no easy solutions for the systemic problems plaguing the south. In his journey northward, he fails to acknowledge the defensive strategies he has come to rely on for survival such as dependence on his racial community. These strategies prove ineffective in the north because New York represents not just a racial promised land but an urban metropolis with new values and expectations Gillis fails to recognize. In the north, Gillis cannot rely on his African American community as a safety net to support him. The community downhome bonds through shared oppression and seeks to survive through reliance on each other. Thus, the conclusion of the story shows the reader the limitations of travel as a solution for addressing racism. Gillis’ capture signifies the real danger in romanticizing travel and Harlem. Travel represents a unique opportunity to connect a cultural site with specific learning objectives. Every study abroad course I teach begins with an examination of Rudolph Fisher’s short story “The City of Refuge.” I begin with this story for three reasons. First, it presents an opportunity to discuss the dangers of romanticizing travel. When one travels they should try to establish realistic expectations of a location. Of course, many large cities have reputations connected to their historical importance, but they are also real places where people live and die. Separating the fantasy from the real will encourage students to seek out meaningful authentic experiences instead of delving into touristic activities that belie the cultural

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

9

complexity of a location. Second, the story emphasizes travel as protest. Travel in this story is connected to escape from racial oppression. The protagonist’s journey reflects many African Americans who, through the Great Migration or through expatriation, sought to change their social and economic status through travel. While Gillis’ goal is ultimately unfulfilled in the story, the narrative emphasizes Gillis’ agency and willingness to resist oppression by seeking out new opportunities. Finally, Harlem as the setting of the story is a fruitful space for inquiry. Harlem during the New Negro Renaissance epitomizes Black Mecca. For many, venturing to this place was a religious experience that afforded artists opportunities to collaborate and exchange ideas with like-minded, young, idealistic creatives and presented an occasion to push the boundaries of expression while embracing Black culture and identity. In retrospect, Harlem could not help but fail to provide African Americans with their dream of freedom from the realities of racism. Gillis learns too late that one cannot out run their problems, but by investigating his experience students are encouraged to think critically about travel and hopefully come away with an understanding of its usefulness and drawbacks as a resistance strategy. One of Gillis’ biggest mistakes is trusting Mouse Uggam. Uggam develops the reputation of a hometown hero because he appears to have successfully escaped the racial oppression of the south. Uggam “had gone to France in the draft and, returning, had never got any nearer home than Harlem” (Fisher 28). His successful escape from the south is seen as an economic triumph because he is able to send “back as much as fifty dollars at a time to his people in Waxhaw” (29). Gillis interprets Uggam’s economic success as a sign of the social and economic prosperity that Harlem offers. Gillis does not meaningfully investigate how Uggam accumulates money or question his shady business practices because Uggam is from downhome. Gillis expects Uggam to appreciate the same social code that fortifies the Black community in the south from racial violence. If you’re Black you stick together and help each other, but Harlem has a new set of rules that Gillis remains blind to. In the great economic center of New York, individuality and self-help are more important than communal responsibility. One crucial part of Gillis’ downfall is his inability to separate the reality of Harlem from the fantasy that he has conjured in his mind. “Ever since a travelling preacher had told him of the place, King Solomon Gillis had longed to come to Harlem” (28). Eleanor Q. Tignor describes one reappearing character type within Fisher’s short fiction as “the naive Southerner

10 

J. L. HAYES

who came to Harlem, usually expecting it to be the promised land, the land of plenty, sometimes a city of refuge” (19). For Gillis, Harlem represents a racial promised land where “black was white” (Fisher 28). His goal to escape the restrictions of the racial tension of the south leads him to Harlem; yet, his view of Harlem as a promised land creates additional problems since he is unable to see the real issues of living in an urban setting. George Hutchinson shows that Gillis’ views of Harlem symbolize both “a ‘land of plenty’ and ‘city of refuge’—twin significations upon the myth of America that prove to be as deceptive as the American Dream…a discovery that becomes bitterly ironic in view of the betrayals and shifts of fortune to follow” (404). As he seeks to escape the social problems of the south, he runs headfirst into new difficulties. His romantic views of the north make him unable to detect the dangerous situation he has waded into until it is too late. Fisher’s complex presentation of Harlem challenges readers to consider the depth of experience Black people faced transitioning from the south to the north. Leonard J.  Deutsch argues that “Fisher’s various concerns include the adjustments blacks were called upon to make after the Great Migration from the South; Harlem’s complex and ambiguous meaning for black people – as mecca and hell… all of Fisher’s stories combine a characteristic balance of folk humor and ironic commentary” (159–160). Through Gillis, Fisher demonstrates how Harlem presents opportunities and challenges for newcomers; simultaneously, via Gillis students can learn to engage in educational opportunities beyond the classroom with a discerning sensibility. Understanding Harlem’s cultural and literary importance should start with an evaluation of the historical forces that worked together to shift African Americans northward. Gillis’ journey reflects the Great Migration. The Great Migration represents the largest movement of African Americans in American history. Following the Reconstruction period, Black codes were instituted to undermine the legal rights of Black citizens. These laws resulted in the relative creation of a second class of African Americans in the south. The laws were meant to prevent African Americans from meaningfully changing their social station and accessing rights to education, social services, and property. These strategies were very successful and many Southern Blacks decided to flee the south for better opportunities. In “The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the U.S. South” Natasha Rivers, Richard Wright, and Mark Ellis claim that “[f]or blacks leaving the South, the social, economic, and

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

11

political inequality they experienced on a daily basis provided an added impetus to leave. Poverty and racially segregated labor markets, exacerbated by Jim Crow laws and blatant discrimination, created a hostile environment for blacks” (613). Fisher does not provide a full picture of the issues that Gillis personally dealt with in the story. Instead, he provides Gillis’ trajectory which includes the impetus for his journey. “Back in North Carolina Gillis had shot a white man and with the aid of prayer and an automobile, probably escaped a lynching. Carefully avoiding the railroads, he had reached Washington in safety. For his car a Southwest bootlegger had given him a hundred dollars and direction to Harlem” (Fisher 28). From North Carolina, Gillis travels toward Washington D.C. However, he does not stop there. Symbolically D.C., the capital of the United States and the center of government, does not fulfill Gillis’ goal of freedom. Note that Gillis avoids railroads as well. Traditionally, trains have been symbols for freedom in African American literature. For example the Underground Railroad, which was a network of alliances that helped escaped slaves make their way to the “promised land” of freedom in the north, represents a positive view of movement. Yet, in this text, Gillis must avoid railroads because in the twentieth century a train represents an obvious escape route from the south, and would have been searched. Gillis instead chooses to use an automobile. This modern means of conveyance emphasizes the individual. Instead of relying on a train or a system, Gillis must rely on himself to escape the traps that would ensnare him as he seeks to achieve freedom. Though Fisher does not reveal the nature of the conflict between Gillis and the White man he kills, Gillis does explain the difficulty the Black community in North Carolina faces by recounting the various strategies local Whites used to undermine economic stability. He lists various individuals who were negatively impacted when he shares a brief story with Uggam. Gillis states: Dey killed five o’ Mose Joplin’s hawses ‘fo he lef’. Put groun’ glass in de feed-trough. Sam Cheevers come up on three of ‘em one night pizenin’ his well. Bleesom beat Crinshaw out o’ sixty acres o’ lan’ an’ a year’s crops. Dass jess how ’t is. Soon’s a nigger make a li’l sump’n he better git to leavin’. An’ fo long ev’ybody’s goin’ be lef! (31)

In this narrative, Gillis emphasizes how Southern Whites used violent methods to challenge fellow Black workers. By killing animals and tainting

12 

J. L. HAYES

feed resources, Southern Whites sought to diminish Black economic power. In this agrarian society, where the product of a season’s labor can be delegitimized through the poisoning of a well or the stealing of fertile land, new fields of labor are needed to ensure survival. Cary D.  Wintz claims that “[a]lthough in the half century following emancipation a number of blacks successfully accumulated property and acquired an education, most remained poorly educated and mired in rural poverty. Even those who had achieved some material success saw these accomplishments threatened by the growth of segregation and racial violence” (6). In this way, Fisher explores the economic disadvantages Gillis faces in North Carolina. The hopelessness Gillis expresses regarding the situation in North Carolina clarifies the difficult reasons many chose to leave. With few opportunities at home and a nation that was shifting from an agrarian to an industrial economy, moving to northern industrial cities provided at least a chance for positive change. In addition to the Great Migration, Mouse Uggam’s character demonstrates another reason that African Americans shifted to the north following World War I. World War I encouraged the movement of Blacks from the south to Harlem and discouraged the return of the doughboys to their southern homes. As the United States geared up for combat, wartime industry provided economic prospects in the city centers that drew thousands of able-bodied workers into factories with the promise of economic security. Nathan Irvin Huggins asserts “Harlem gained from that migration, as shortly after, in World War I, it gained from the waves of blacks who came to fill the war industries’ labor needs that had been aggravated by the war-severed European immigration” (14). In addition to factory workers, enlisted men upon their return found it difficult to go back home and resume the routine of segregation. Yet, Black participation in World War I was complicated by the incorporation of segregation into the armed forces. As African Americans were drafted and sent far away from their homes, they were still expected to work in segregated ranks putting their lives on the line for a nation that refused to fully recognize their humanity. Thus, their time abroad encouraged political agitation as many servicemen sought to reconcile their duties to their nation with their aspiration for equal rights. “The irony escaped no one. Most Negroes saw the wartime emergency as an opportunity to bargain for improvement in official policies toward black citizens” (36). After the war, many chose to remain abroad or relocate to northern cities like Harlem for the promise of social mobility.

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

13

Fisher explores this complex experience through Uggam. He incorporates Uggam’s history as a veteran, but complicates this experience by presenting Uggam as an individual who has descended into the urban belly of Harlem. Uggam’s presence in the story exposes the dangers of urban living and the problems of the city. He symbolizes a type of success that is dependent upon undermining his ties to the racial community. Instead of racial oppression, it is Uggam’s willingness to use others that promotes his success. Yet, he is not a drug kingpin. He is a worker, and his task is explained by his boss Tom Edwards. The directives that Edwards give Uggam demonstrate a new ideology about success. By using King Solomon Gillis to promote the sale of illicit drugs, Edwards exposes a flaw that is carried over from the south. It seems that Edwards understands that one positive outcome of the influx of southern workers into the New York market is an abundance of individuals looking for work without the resources to make meaningful connections. Don’t lose no time. And remember, hereafter, it’s better to sacrifice a little than to get squealed on. Never refuse a customer. Give him a little credit. Humor him along till you can get rid of him safe. You don’t know what that guy that died may have said; you don’t know who’s on to you now. And if they get you—I don’t know you. (31)

For Edwards, Gillis is merely a means to an end or a cog in a well-oiled machine that can be replaced when it loses value. Edwards instructs Uggam to use Gillis and to shift any consequences from the enterprise onto him when the police find out. Uggam is all too willing to comply, because these are the rules that have been confirmed in his experience in the south, in France, and in the north. The value of an individual worker is less important than the economic success of the business whether that business is legitimate or illegitimate. In reading Uggam’s experience as a counterpoint to Gillis’, I encourage students to consider the similarities in their goals. Like Gillis, Uggam is attempting an escape from the quagmire of racist limitations of the south. His decisions seem callous but they reflect an ideology born out of an environment that encourages people to dehumanize one another for economic or social power. The key difference between the two characters is that Uggam seems conscious of his choices and willing to move boldly forward jeopardizing his relationships with members of his community for individual progress. On the other hand, Gillis seems blind to the active

14 

J. L. HAYES

choices he is making and does not acknowledge how his choices weaken his attempt at economic and social transformation. In addition to King Solomon Gillis’ and Mouse Uggam’s journeys to Harlem, two immigrants’ experiences in Harlem are explored as well. The first individual is described as “a little blot of a creature, quite black against even the darkness of the hallway, except for a dirty, wide-striped silk shirt, collarless, with the sleeves rolled up” (32). This character is a store clerk who has been sent on an errand to collect a debt from Gillis. During Gillis’ first day in Harlem, he accidentally knocked over a bushel of apples. This clerk was sent by the storeowner to retrieve payment for the damaged goods. Fisher’s description of the clerk emphasizes his difference from Gillis and Uggam, two African American men. In addition to his physical appearance, Fisher emphasizes the store clerk’s speech which demonstrates his “strongly accented Jamaican voice” (32). The cultural characteristics distinguish the clerk from the men who have bonded over their shared southern heritage. As Gillis rebuffs the young clerk, he degrades the man using racist language meant to assert his American identity and power in the conversation: But the West Indian warmly insisted. “ You cahn’t do daht, mon. Whaht you t’ink, ’ey? Dis mon loose ’is appels an’ ’is money too?” “What diff’ence it make to you, nigger?” “Who You call nigger, mon? Ah hahve you understahn’”—“Oh, well, white folks, den….” (32)

This is a pivotal moment in the story. In Harlem, Gillis postures differently than he did in the south. For Gillis, his American identity affords him privilege. This privilege allows him to deny his responsibility for paying his debt and allows him to believe he occupies a superior status to another Black worker. When the clerk takes offense to the racial slur, Gillis flippantly calls him a White man. This play on words considers Gillis’ earlier claim that in Harlem “black is white.” For Gillis, Whiteness is associated with power, but Black people in Harlem are powerful, so they can behave as cruelly as the White people from his southern experience. In the north it seems, Gillis assumes a new identity. Instead of considering the Jamaican worker as his community member, he sees him as a subordinate although both Gillis and the clerk have ventured to Harlem for the same purposes. The store clerk works for a Neapolitan transplant named Tony Gabrielli. Gabrielli is a neighborhood regular who earns his living by selling goods at a corner bodega. He offers Gillis a job after his Jamaican store clerk was

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

15

unable to recoup the debt owed for damaging a bushel of apples. Gabrielli questions Gillis’ trustworthiness because when he is alone in the store foot traffic raises but the amount of product sold does not. Instead of challenging Gillis about this perceived abnormality, he waits because he is aware of the fragile racial climate in Harlem. “As for accosting Gillis on suspicion, Tony was too wise for that. Patronage had a queer way of shifting itself in Harlem. You lost your temper and let slip a single ‘négre.’ A week later you sold your business” (36). Interestingly, Gabrielli understands the power of racial slurs and refrains from using them to maintain his status. Earlier in the text when Gillis uses the slur, he seeks to accomplish a similar outcome. Both men are aware that language can be used in this tense environment to demean others. This reality is similar to the south where Gillis and Uggam seek to escape; yet the north has the same racial tensions bubbling under the surface. Instead of Harlem representing an idealized escape from racial tensions, it seems that the immigrants and migrants have ended up in a more complex racial situation. Teaching “City of Refuge” in a study abroad course offers students an entry way into considering the complex realities of the destinations they will be visiting. Often, travelers have preconceived notions about the destinations they visit that are informed by romantic unrealistic depictions of a locale. To disabuse students of this misconception, I use this text to show what can happen when a visitor is unable to experience the reality of a location and instead privileges their idealistic impressions instead. Gillis makes disastrous choices that ironically propel him toward a conclusion he sought to avoid in the south: jail. As students think critically about Gillis’ misadventures, I encourage them to view him as a model. Instead of viewing Gillis as a standard to follow, they are encouraged to rebuff this standard and contemplate a more nuanced approach to travel. Thus, students are encouraged to learn about the dynamic destinations they will be exploring before they arrive to help prepare them to take advantage of the unique learning experience. Typically study abroad classes venture beyond the United States; although, there are opportunities for field studies within the country to major urban centers to better understand the significance of cultural centers such as New York City or Chicago. Often study abroad represents a student’s first significant independent travel experience without the comfort of their parents. As a faculty member, it is my responsibility to help the students acclimate to their settings. One way to prepare students for transition from their traditional classroom spaces to learning in a study abroad

16 

J. L. HAYES

context is to arrange pre-departure seminars. These seminars allow the instructor to discuss practical matters surrounding travel such as logistics, schedules, and expectations before the course begins. I often joke with my students about the film Taken (2008). In this film, Liam Neeson undertakes an international adventure to rescue his teenage daughter who falls prey to a sex trafficking ring in France. While this scenario represents the most extreme circumstances, it also represents a teachable moment. Our goal abroad is to use the city as a teaching tool to connect real life experiences with critical thinking and analysis. However, sometimes when people travel they lose their good sense. So, I start with the idea that our goal is to make it to our location and return safe and sound. Every day students navigate complex cities and manage to make it home in one piece because their guards are up. I encourage students to apply the same common sense approach that they utilize in their daily lives to travel. For example, in “City of Refuge” Gillis makes himself a target the moment he steps off of the train on 135th street. He exits the subway and just stands in the middle of the sidewalk gawking at passersby, tall buildings, and people. His fixed position in a sea of moving people sets him apart immediately and Uggam approaches quickly recognizing a target: an outsider. One goal in safe travel should be to blend in as much as possible and not draw unnecessary attention to oneself. Another goal is to make safe choices to ensure your security as well as the welfare of the group. However, Gillis’ trusting nature jeopardizes his journey the moment it begins. Because he thinks he can trust Uggam a seemingly affable individual, he willingly grants Uggam his address when asked. “King Solomon located and gratefully extended a slip of paper. ‘Wha’ dis hyea at, please suh’” (29). After this moment, I often ask my students what is dangerous about this decision. Normally, they understand immediately how foolhardy it is to give a total stranger your address. This choice opens Gillis up to becoming a victim of a con man. His decision is a teachable moment where instructors can underscore the importance of safety practices. Avoid giving out personal information to strangers. The class setting gives the students a sense of comfort before they travel because they already have readymade travel companions. I encourage my students to always travel in pairs and to exchange contact information before leaving the country. Typically, I start a group chat on a free app such as WhatsApp. This way, I can communicate quickly to students. We practice before we leave sending messages to make sure everyone is

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

17

connected. This encourages a sense of community and accountability before we depart. Students should be aware of the local climate and news events as they travel. It often surprises me how often students rely on social media for information regarding current events. I encourage students to look up radio stations, newspapers, blogs, and to follow social media feeds of our travel destinations before our visit. This helps the students know what is going on so they are not surprised about cultural, social, and political issues as they navigate a new place. Tapping into the newsfeeds of travel destinations offers students an opportunity to understand a place from an insider’s perspective which can help demystify any preconceived notions they have about a destination. Students should be briefed on practical information before departing to help prepare them for the experience. Traveling to the study abroad site can be the most taxing part of the experience, so before departure I always equip my students with a handout outlining general information about the trip. First, students are given the address and phone number of the hotel. They are encouraged to keep a copy of this information on their person at all times. In case they are separated from the group, they will have the necessary information to get back to our meeting spot. Additionally, students are given the information about the local embassy. They also must enroll in the STEP program before departure. The STEP program is a branch of the US Department of State. By enrolling in the system, students and faculty alert the federal government of their travel dates and locations. The system provides updated information to travelers abroad such as terrorist activities, protest activities, or even important closures while abroad. Additionally, students should download resources before they travel that make their experience more user friendly. For example, I encourage students to download conversion apps and translation apps when traveling to Europe. Understanding ever-changing exchange rates can be a difficult task; accordingly the conversion app tool is a useful feature to help them understand how much they are spending. Moreover, when visiting locations that are not English speaking, students should try to familiarize themselves with basic polite phrases. Yet, occasions may arise where typical phrases are not sufficient to complete an interaction. Having a language app downloaded can help students interact with locals and eliminate some of the fear students have traveling to non-English speaking locations.

18 

J. L. HAYES

Finally, the last practical tip I have for students is to try to understand public transportation options before they venture abroad. Students are often familiar with taking a bus or ride sharing service, these services might not be readily available abroad. I always equip my students with a map when traveling, and I encourage them to download city maps that do not rely on wifi when traveling such as Maps.me. Before we travel they can plug in key addresses such as the hotel or cultural sites that will be visited. This helps them develop an understanding of logistics before departure. After the initial preparation, students should be provided an itinerary of expected cultural sites to visit while abroad. It is important for students to understand that travel is a crucial component of the learning experience and that they are expected to attend daily events that connect with the readings and assignments of the course in a meaningful way. Traditionally, I schedule no more than two events a day. Some days there are opportunities for day trips to nearby destinations that fortify the learning experience. However, pacing of the schedule is important. Travel can be exhausting, and faculty should allow students opportunities to explore cities on their own so they can take advantage of the unique opportunities a site offers. The cocurricular activities I schedule connect with learning objectives or the specific narrative taught. For example, if traveling to Harlem, I might schedule a visit to a jazz club such as Bill’s Place to offer students an opportunity to envision the experiences King Solomon Gillis underwent in the story. Moreover, students are assigned additional readings that offer more nuanced understandings of a city; such as Amiri Baraka’s article “City of Harlem” in his collection of essays Home: Social Essays. This essay provides an overview of the historical and cultural significance of Black Harlem from an Afrocentric perspective. Baraka helps students understand the importance of the city to African American identity while demystifying “the mythology of Harlem” (Baraka 88). Daily events should provide students with opportunities to participate meaningfully with the setting. Venturing to museums such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, or the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute would position students with opportunities to engage with history in meaningful ways. Culture is not apprehended merely by watching. I encourage my students to be more than culture voyeurs simply gazing at local citizens in their natural spaces. They should participate in an activity where they become involved in the community. This could be as simple as taking a food tour or eating at a local restaurant that specializes in cuisine specific to the location. Examples of this include

2  TEACHING TRAVEL SKILLS WITH RUDOLPH FISHER’S “CITY OF REFUGE” 

19

soul food restaurants like Sylvia’s Restaurant or the Red Rooster; conversely students could sample Caribbean or African dishes at The Edge Harlem or Ponty Bistro. Visiting a destination in a study abroad context should represent more than a vacation or a mad dash through a city checking off lists of important sites such as the Apollo Theater or the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Instead, study abroad presents a significant learning opportunity where students can consider setting. How does a setting within a story create a dynamic that characters must navigate? For King Solomon Gillis, Harlem represented a sanctuary where racialized violence and segregation supposedly did not exist. But the reality of Gillis’ experience demonstrates that a city is merely a community with people struggling to survive daily. While Gillis misses this key understanding, if properly prepared, students in study abroad courses can be encouraged to recognize the vitality of these settings and interact, albeit in a brief and minimal way, in the fabric of day to day life.

Bibliography “Apollo.” Apollo Theater, accessed December 1, 2019. https://www.apollotheater.org/. “Band.” Casa de Calexico, accessed October 27, 2017. http://www.casadecalexico.com/band. Baraka, Imamu Amiri. “City of Harlem” in Home Social Essays (New York: William Morrow, (1966) 87–93. Deutsch, Leonard J. “‘The Streets of Harlem’: The Short Stories of Rudolph Fisher.” Phylon 40, no. 2 (1979): 159–171.Accessed December 3, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/274657. “The Edge.” The Edge Harlem, accessed December 1, 2019. https://www. theedgeharlem.com/. Fisher, Rudolph, “City of Refuge,” in The Short Fiction of Rudolph Fisher, edited by Margaret Perry. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987) 28–41. Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Harlem Renaissance. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. “History.” Bill’s Place, accessed December 1, 2019. http://www.billsplaceharlem.com/. Hutchison, George. The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995. Morel, Pierre, dir. Taken. (2008; Burbank, CA: twentieth Century Fox, 2009), DVD.

20 

J. L. HAYES

“Ponty Bistro.” Ponty Bistro, accessed by December 2, 2019. http://www.pontybistroharlem.com/. “The Red Rooster.” Red Rooster Harlem, accessed December 2, 2019. https:// www.redroosterharlem.com/. “Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.” New  York Public Library, December 1, 2019. https://www.nypl.org/locations/schomburg. “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.” U.S. Department of State, accessed June 16, 2019, https://step.state.gov/step/. “Sylvia’s.” Sylvia’s restaurant, accessed December 2, 2019, http://sylviasrestaurant.com/. Rivers, Natasha; Wright, Richard; Ellis, Mark. “The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the U.S. South.” Growth & Change 46, no. 4 (2015): 611–630. Accessed December 3, 2019. https://doi. org/10.1111/grow.12107. Schneider, Mark Robert. African Americans in the Jazz Age: A Decade of Struggle and Promise. Lanham: Rowan & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2006. Tignor, Eleanor Q. “The Short Fiction of Rudolph Fisher.” The Langston Hughes Review 1, no. 1 (SPRING, 1982): 18–23 Accessed November 8, 2019. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/26432739. Wintz, Cary D. Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance. College Station: Texas A&M UP, 1996.

CHAPTER 3

Frederick Douglass’ Didactic Travel in My Bondage and My Freedom

Abstract  In this chapter, I investigate teaching Frederick Douglass’ second autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom through a study abroad course to Ireland. In the chapter, I argue that teaching My Bondage and My Freedom in Ireland opens up a discussion for Douglass’ antislavery travels after he achieves freedom in his initial slave narrative. I argue that he extends his quest for freedom through his antislavery travels to Ireland and Great Britain. Thus, by teaching Douglass by following his freedom trail in Ireland, students are introduced to the need for an ongoing fight to secure the freedom of African Americans even after slavery is abolished. Keywords  Freedom • Ireland • Slavery • Lectures • Slave narrative

In Northern Ireland, there are roads of walls that separate the Anglican community from the Catholic community or the true political divide between the loyalist and republican/nationalist communities. These walls are known by different names to various travelers, but most understand that while the boundaries are connected to a history of violence within Ireland. Surprisingly, the walls tell more than a local story about tension among the British and Irish Nationalists fighting for home rule. The walls demonstrate a global perspective that considers the roles of freedom fighters in the contemporary moment as well as the not so distant past. © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_3

21

22 

J. L. HAYES

In multiple murals, African American political figures take center stage. One such mural was created by Danny Devenny in 2006. This mural consists of an image of famed African American abolitionist Frederick Douglass and a paraphrase of a longer quote that appears in his third and final autobiography Life and Times of Frederick Douglass originally published in 1881 and revised in 1892. The original quote from Douglass’ text reads as follows: Perhaps no class of our fellow-citizens has carried this prejudice against color to a point more extreme and dangerous than have our Catholic Irish fellow-citizens, and yet no people on the face of the earth have been more relentlessly persecuted and oppressed on account of race and religion than have this same Irish people. (Douglass 661)

In this quote, Douglass exposes the irony of the tension between African American and Irish citizens. For Douglass, the tension between these two groups belies their deeper bonds as communities that have been persecuted by powerful opponents. While African Americans have struggled against racist oppression stateside, Irish Catholics have struggled to maintain their homeland and religious practices amidst cultural and religious assaults from British imperialists. Their similar struggles should provide an opportunity for alliances, but Bill Roston claims that “many Irish immigrants in 19th-century America were profoundly racist. Despite that, many African American leaders looked to the Irish example as a model for anticolonial struggle and liberation” (464). For his part, Douglass recalls a positive experience in bondage working alongside Irish immigrants in ports. In Douglass’ second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), he recounts an encounter with two Irishmen. This incident occurs before Douglass has begun to consider running away. At the docks, he tells the Irishmen that he is a slave for life and they respond by stating “it was pity so fine a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life” (125). Their conversation does not end there. They encourage Douglass “to run away, and go to the north; that I should find friends there, and that I would be as free as anybody” (125). While Douglass does not heed their advice at the time, this conversation is one that adds to Douglass’ understanding of his precarious situation in slavery. His longing to leave and attain freedom sends him on a dangerous journey from Maryland to Massachusetts and eventually to Europe.

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

23

In My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass extends his journey from slavery to freedom. This journey results in a “semi-exile” to Great Britain and Ireland for two years. He departs the United States in the spring of 1845 due to fears of recapture. Douglass’ reputation as an orator and the recent publication of his most well-known work The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) created a tense reality for the writer. As he exposed the moral flaws of slavery, he put himself in a compromising situation. As a result, he chose to continue his oratorical tour abroad in free countries of Western Europe. Readers of Douglass’ autobiographies are introduced to his quest for freedom through his initial slave narrative. In his 1845 text, Douglass presents the horrors of slavery through vivid descriptions of violence, hunger, and the hope for freedom. The first text ends with his successful escape from slavery and a call to action for readers to help undermine slavery for the countless others still in bondage. This triumphant ending contradicts the reality of Douglass’ experience in the north and Europe. To best understand what freedom means in the nineteenth century for African Americans, an evaluation of My Bondage and My Freedom emphasizes the continued struggle for liberty. Thus, teaching My Bondage and My Freedom offers instructors an opportunity to consider the complexity of independence for ex-slaves. Douglass’ journey teaches readers that freedom is not a destination achieved after reaching the North or later through the abolition of slavery. Instead, for African Americans, freedom represents a constant journey that requires persistent resistance against racist oppression while striving for equality.

Freedom Trail: Douglass’ Route to Freedom in My Bondage and My Freedom The first lines of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God begin with a focus on the sea. “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by time. That is the life of men” (Hurston 1). This quote embodies Douglass’ feelings in Maryland on the shores of the Chesapeake gazing out at the ships in the bay. As he stood there, he wondered whether he would ever have an opportunity to chart the direction of his own life. Born in Tuckahoe,

24 

J. L. HAYES

Maryland, travel was an important part of Douglass’ childhood. As a young boy, he was given the opportunity to leave his rural plantation and venture to Baltimore. It was his journey to Baltimore that ignited his passion for literacy and exposed him to the complex life of port cities. “I was not ten years old when I left Col. Lloyd’s plantation for Baltimore…I had something of the feeling about that city which is expressed in the saying, that being ‘hanged in England, is better than dying in Ireland.’ I had the strongest desire to see Baltimore” (Douglass 100–101). It was in Baltimore that Douglass learned to read and experienced his first taste of freedom. Mrs. Sophia Auld, Douglass’ new mistress, had never owned slaves before. As a result, she began to teach him how to read not knowing the social taboo associated with her instruction. Her husband Master Hugh informed her of the consequences of education for slaves stating: “if you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell… he should know nothing but the will of his master, and learn to obey it; learning would spoil the best nigger in the world; if you teach that nigger… how to read the bible, there will be no keeping him; it would forever unfit him for the duties of a slave” (108). Master Hugh’s admonitions against literacy planted seeds of rebellion in Douglass’ mind that connected the importance of education with freedom. In Baltimore, away from the traditional plantation lifestyle, Douglass had time, an opportunity to further his studies. Once literate, even his eventual return to Colonel Lloyd’s plantation could not dissuade Douglass of the corrupting impact of slavery. Master Hugh’s fears concerning literacy for Douglass foreshadow Douglass’ development. Education did make him an unsuitable slave by providing the foundation for his resistance work in the future. Douglass was deemed unruly and in need of taming when he was a teenager and was sent to work for the infamous slave breaker Mr. Covey. Covey was successful, but Douglass’ proximity to the port and opportunity to witness the movement of the ships affirmed his desire to achieve freedom. When looking at Chesapeake Bay Douglass witnessed: Those beautiful vessels, robed in purest white, so delightful to the eye of freemen, were to me so many shrouded ghosts, to terrify and torment me with thoughts of my wretched condition. I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer’s Sabbath, stood all alone upon the banks of that noble bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected me powerfully. (160–161)

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

25

It is on the shores of the bay that Douglass understands how slavery has fixed him place at Covey’s farm and has secured him into a lower caste that prevents his free movement and growth. The breaking episode at Covey’s farm is retold in My Bondage and My Freedom after the original depiction of the moment in Narrative. Robert Gooding-Williams explains that Covey’s breaking of Douglass “explains the true nature of slavery by showing how the plantation regime uses personal, face-to-face relationships−between masters and slaves and between overseers and slaves−to achieve its ultimate end…the plantation regime approximated the goal of reducing slaves to a level with the brute” (148). The constant work and violence Douglass experiences with Covey affords him little time to think, read, or hope. However, on Sundays his ritualized practice of standing by the shores of the bay and considering the significance of the ships in the port reveals a deeper desire to move beyond his limited position as chattel. Initially, Douglass believes the movement from the south to the north will facilitate a transformation in status and ensure his freedom. However, following his escape, he realizes freedom’s elusive nature in the north. Upon his escape, Douglass arrives in New York and discovers new fears that distract him from the joy of freedom. In New York, Douglass is primarily alone and without a community to support him. His situation is complicated when he encounters a slave from Baltimore who has adopted the name William Dixon. His old friend explained that New York was a treacherous place for runaways and their freedom was insecure. He explained “that the city was now full of southerners…that black people in New York were not to be trusted; that there were hired men on the lookout for fugitives from slavery, and who, for a few dollars, would betray me into the hands of slave catchers” (Douglass 249). Douglass’ experience in New York predates the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Scott S. Basinger states: The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was actually the second piece of national legislation aimed at enforcing the Constitution's “Fugitive Slave Clause,” which states: No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor; but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due. (308)

Even before the Fugitive Slave Act empowered southern slaveholders to reclaim their chattel who escaped to free jurisdictions, there is a system in place in the north that destabilizes the perception of the north as free. This

26 

J. L. HAYES

precarious environment encourages Douglass to isolate himself from people because of the perceived danger of his status as a runaway. The fear he harbors in New York reveals the loopholes to freedom. Desperation drives Douglass to the surface in search of assistance in New York City. Although a skilled laborer, he distanced himself from meaningful industry due to fears of recapture, but through a chance encounter with a sailor named Stewart he connects with “David Ruggles, who was then the secretary of the New York Vigilance committee, and a very active man in anti-slavery works” (Douglass 251). Ruggles helps Douglass relocate to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he procures work as a caulker in the port. New Bedford is very different from New York City, and Douglass feels safe there among the African American community. He now has a home, but New Bedford is not devoid of racist sentiments. The urge to practice religion exposes Douglass to the undercurrent of racism lurking in the north. At the time, Douglass was “not then aware of the powerful influence of that religious body in favor of enslavement of my race, nor did I see how the northern churches could be responsible for the conduct of southern churches” (258). These later discoveries bolster Douglass’ protest against Christian institutions in order to hold them accountable for their complicity in slavery. Before this realization occurs, Douglass experiences segregated religious practices in the north. When attending the Elm Street Methodist church in New Bedford he “was not allowed a seat in the body of the house…on account of my color” (258). This pattern of racially segregated religious spaces highlights the conflict within the north. As Douglass attempts to situate himself within the community, unwritten rules are in place that designate the appropriate spaces for Black and Whites to occupy. These guidelines encumber his experience of freedom. The racism Douglass experiences in church compels him to locate a more welcoming environment; yet his experiences at other predominantly White churches confirm his initial encounter. As a result, Douglass joins a predominately African American congregation “known as the Zion Methodists” (260). Within this congregation, Douglass delivers his first public speeches describing his experience in slavery and catches the attention of abolitionist William C. Coffin who offers him an opportunity to speak at an anti-slavery convention in 1841 (263). Douglass’ introduction to the abolitionist community shifts his trajectory from establishing a home in the north to sharing his story with audiences. Initially, he travels

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

27

through the north telling naïve northerners about his experience. His audiences are not always welcoming. Some did not believe his story because they perceived Douglass as a well-spoken individual. The clarity and power of his oratorical delivery challenged racist assumptions about Black people and slaves more broadly only further demonstrating the mythology of the north and the region’s supposed progressive racial politics. Additionally, Douglass was aware that certain members of his White audience had come to his lectures to engage in the spectacle and perceived him as an exotic speaker. These opposing responses reflect an undercurrent of racist sentiments about Black people. In many ways, the abolitionists encourage Douglass to perform a palatable blackness for a White audience. For example, Collins instructs Douglass to “be yourself…tell your story…better have a little of the plantation manner of speech than not; ’tis not best that you seem too learned” (266). Instead of boldly addressing racist ideologies in the north, White abolitionists privileged White bias despite the harm this could wreak on survivors of slavery. Despite the racist audiences Douglass engaged, his reputation as a powerful advocate against slavery grew. As such, the demand for a full accounting of his experience in narrative form developed. The publication of The Narrative of Frederick Douglass in 1845 coupled with his growing reputation as an abolitionist created danger for Douglass. It became prudent to leave the United States because his safety was endangered by slave catchers and southern sympathizers in the north. Consequently, the 24th chapter of My Bondage and My Freedom recounts Douglass’ journey to Great Britain and Ireland. In this chapter, Douglass documents his experience abroad as well as the turmoil he encounters en route. He begins by commenting on the trend among “young American gentlemen” that travel abroad “to increase their stock knowledge, to seek pleasure, to have their rough, democratic manners softened by contact with English aristocratic refinement” (269). Douglass’ description of the grand tour as a long-standing tradition that Jason M. Kelly defines as a journey that “shaped and reshaped social structures and expectations across a host of realms—from the world of sociability to gender norms to nationalist attitudes” and “influenced generations of scholars, politicians, and well-to-do elites [and established] cultural connections across borders and large distances” (452–453). Unlike these young elites in America and Europe who toured the European continent as a rite of passage, Douglass ventured abroad as an escape and an opportunity to engage European audiences on the slavery question.

28 

J. L. HAYES

Douglass’ sea voyage parallels his journey to freedom in the north. Initially, there were obstacles that prevented his transit. “On applying for a passage to England, on board the Cambria, of the Cunard Line” he was told that he “could not be received on board as a cabin passenger” (Douglass 269). This obstruction uncovers the institutionalized nature of racist policies in travel. Though Douglass had American and British advocates on board, he was relegated to a second class cabin. His friends’ responses expose the privilege they experience; yet, Douglass’ response signals a subversive temperament. “The insult was keenly felt by my white friends, but to me, it was common, expected, and therefore, a thing of no great consequence, whether I went in the cabin or in the steerage. Moreover, I felt that if I could not go into the first cabin, first-cabin passengers could come into the second cabin” (270). Douglass’ expectations of racial prejudice exhibit the pervasive quality of intolerance in the United States while simultaneously exposing the inability of white allies to fully understand the consistent disturbances associated with these policies for the African American community. In addition to the intersectional problems with race and class on board the Cambria, violent outbursts exploded as Douglass’ presence was made known to fellow southern travelers. “I came near mobbed, for complying with an invitation given me by the passengers, and the captain of the ‘Cambria,’ to deliver a lecture on slavery. Our New Orleans and Georgia passengers were pleased to regard my lecture as an insult offered to them, and swore I should not speak. They went so far as to threaten to throw me overboard, and but for the firmness of Captain Judkins, probably would have” (270). The reaction of the southerners on the ship highlights the importance of Douglass’ mission to offer detailed depictions of the true character of slavery. His speeches offered individuals living outside of enslaved territories a testament of the impact of the destructive system on slavers as well as the enslaved. The southerners protest on the boat signals their understanding of the benefits they attain through their participation in the system. Whether they own slaves or not, White southerners enjoy a privileged status that depends on the dehumanization of slaves and freedmen. Moreover, Adrian N. Mulligan interprets the quarrel on the Cambria as a pivotal moment in Douglass’ development as a freedom fighter. Mulligan states that the incident “represented his first tangible experience of what he was fighting for; a vision in microcosm of a future American society in which the democratic rights of the majority held sway and the colour of one’s skin no longer mattered” (Mulligan 403).

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

29

Though the Cambria arrives in port at Liverpool, it is Douglass’ experience in Ireland that awakens a feeling of freedom. In January 1846, Douglass writes a letter to William Lloyd Garrison that is published in Garrison’s periodical, The Liberator. His journey through Ireland included a speaking tour, opportunities to meet with regional political and religious leaders, as well as a tour of natural sites in Ireland. For example, he lists key sites visited including the Hill of Howth, Giant’s Causeway, and Cape Clear. Furthermore, exploring Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Belfast provided Douglass with a positive impression of life in Ireland. Though Tom Chaffin questions whether Douglass truly covered the breadth of Ireland since at that time he did not visit the west coast nor was Douglass fluent in Irish which was “then still the language of much of the island’s poorer population” (Chaffin 102). Douglass still felt a strong connection to Ireland because his experiences there contrasted greatly with his experiences in the northern states. In his letter to Garrison, Douglass states “instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle. I breathe and lo! the chattel becomes a man” (273). For Douglass, his access to spaces generally assigned for White people in the United States provides him with a different perspective. He notes that no one says “We don’t allow niggers here” as he has heard in many settings in the north including churches, restaurants, and even public transportation. The freedom he felt in his ability to move throughout Ireland had a positive impact on his impression of the nation and contributed to a growing sense of agency in his political speeches. David Levine claims that in Douglass’ speeches in “late 1845 and 1846, Douglass presented the Cambria incident as having guided him toward transatlantic alliances that transcended the political sectarianism of U.S. antislavery organizations” (Levine 82). While he continued to discuss his experiences in slavery, he extended his focus to broader issues of race and sought to encourage Europeans to agitate against racism in their own right. “A number of Douglass’s speeches delivered in Ireland also conveyed his sense of common cause between U.S. slaves and the Irish working poor” (Levine 93). For Douglass, the connections between the experiences of the Irish and American slaves create a space for alliances. However, what Douglass observes in the lack of racial segregation in public spaces does not equate to an enlightened European ideology about race or demonstrate an acknowledgement of a shared responsibility in toppling the system of slavery.

30 

J. L. HAYES

Douglass’ lectures extended beyond Ireland and continued in England and Scotland. In Scotland, Douglass became involved in a moral battle about the responsibility of churches in Europe to condemn their religious brethren in the United States who utilized religious doctrine to justify their participation in slavery. Specifically, Douglass was concerned about the economic ties that connected Europe to America and wanted to ensure that European churches such as the Free Church of Scotland would not accept donations from slavers in the United States. Alasdair Pettinger shows that “Douglass began to realize that it wasn’t enough for him to describe the horrors of slavery, and then denounce the Free Church. He had to find a way of conveying how its actions directly affected the lives of the enslaved. He had to persuade audiences to imagine the fundraising mission from the point of view of those who ultimately created the wealth that made the donations possible in the first place” (53–54). For Douglass, the money that the Free Church of Scotland accepted was tainted with the blood of slaves and their unpaid wages. Therefore, excepting the money symbolically affirms slavery in the United States even if Scottish people are not involved in the everyday brutality, through their receipt of funds they become invested in the system’s continuation. Though unsuccessful in his attempt, Douglass’ association with the movement created a conversation that helped inform the Scottish people of the economic connections to slavery. John F. Quinn notes that “[n]ot all of his listeners appreciated his message, however. In his addresses, Douglass repeatedly denounced America as a slavery-loving country. He was especially caustic in his remarks about the Methodists, whom he regarded as morally complicit for not condemning slavery. These sharp attacks on the Methodists pleased at least some of the Catholics in the audience who were glad to see their long-standing rivals censured” (Quinn 538). Douglass’ tour of Britain and Ireland resulted in the development of a self-assured voice. Initially, he relied on his connections with abolitionists in America, but his reputation and prowess abroad created a platform that he could capitalize on following his return to America. His newfound audience resulted in the cultivation of friendships that empowered Douglass. Specifically, his time in England ensured his freedom when in 1846 some of his friends abroad purchased his freedom and presented him with his papers of manumission. With his freedom purchased, Douglass could return to the United States without the same fear of being returned to the south. Yet, many of Douglass’ “uncompromising anti-slavery friends…failed to see the wisdom of this arrangement, and

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

31

were not pleased that I consented to it, even by my silence. They thought it a violation of anti-slavery principles—conceding a right of property in man—and a wasteful expenditure of money” (Douglass 277). The response of Douglass’ American abolitionist friends is puzzling. Their focus on an ideological principle instead of the reality of Douglass’ political and legal situation implies a lack of consideration to the real danger Douglass faced. Of course, Douglass understood the absurdity of the need to purchase his freedom, but the reality of his status cannot be denied. It is not surprising that Douglass would develop his own platform through the creation of an abolitionist newspaper when he returned to frame his political discussions of slavery and freedom. Upon his departure, he asked his friends to “simply give me the means of obtaining a printing press and printing materials, to enable me to start a paper” (287). They agreed and upon his arrival Douglass began his first periodical: North Star. With this new platform, Douglass centralized his focus and though he continued giving speeches throughout his life, he utilized the press and his own expertise to champion freedom. David Blight notes that Douglass was a rhetorical master that relied on irony in promoting his newspaper to the public by emphasizing his former slave status. Douglass challenged racist ideologies that held African Americans as intellectually inferior to their White counterparts (Blight 191).

Following the Path: Cocurricular Activities in Douglass’ Ireland Douglass’ desire to come home after two years abroad was due to a deeply held belief that he had a responsibility “to labor and suffer with the oppressed in my native land” (Douglass 277). This responsibility should underscore teaching Douglass’ second autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom. For Douglass, his time abroad was fulfilling but augmented his desire to be of service to more than his self-interest. As a result, an examination of Douglass’ journey abroad and his subsequent return represents a fruitful space for academic inquiry. I propose situating a study abroad class in Ireland and exploring specific cultural sites as cocurricular activities to enhance critical investigations of Douglass’ works. Time abroad should be divided between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to offer students an opportunity to engage in cultural sites connected to points of interest in Douglass’ travel

32 

J. L. HAYES

and to take advantage of the cultural richness of the entire island. The tension between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will offer students an opportunity to connect Douglass’ initial considerations about the connections between Irish people and ex-slaves to the connections between the political status of African Americans as well as Irish people. This contrast can be emphasized through the reading of modern newspapers that discuss political issues connected to discrimination, disenfranchisement as well as the violence connected to protests. Initially, starting in Dublin will offer students and faculty an opportunity to establish a base of operations. A short 5.5 hour flight from Boston, Dublin is an accessible international hub that functions as a gateway to the rest of the continent. In Dublin, there are several cultural sites that can be explored. A starting place is O’Connell Street so named after Daniel O’Connell who is famously known as a great liberator of the Irish people. This central street is the main thoroughfare in Dublin. Walking tours, shopping, and cultural sites including the O’Connell monument can be reached by starting here. Additionally, O’Connell Street will offer students an opportunity to investigate the real-life connections between Douglass and his Irish mate. “Before [Douglass] left Dublin, after seeing both its great halls as well as its desperate poverty, Douglass had the special experience of witnessing a speech by Daniel O’Connell and then meeting the ‘Great Liberator.’ Legendary champion of all reforms, including the controversial repeal of the union of Ireland and England, O’Connell deeply moved Douglass” (Blight 143). Visiting this thoroughfare and the monument will emphasize to students an important part of Irish history through a focus on a local freedom fighter’s connection to Douglass. Next, instructors could plan a visit to Dublin’s City Hall. Douglass delivered multiple speeches there and mentions the warm reception he received from the Mayor of Dublin and his dining experience with the city leader. A visit to Dublin’s City Hall offers students an opportunity to consider the historic significance of the site. I recommend scheduling a historical tour that introduces students to information regarding the original construction and art work within the building, the historical texts on display, as well as the role the city has played in the fight for social justice for Irish people. In addition to history, education played a key role in Douglass’ autobiographies. From his quest for literacy to his desire to spread information about the horrors of slavery, education remained a crucial feature of his oratorical tours. For this reason, a visit to Trinity College and The Book of

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

33

Kells exhibit will offer students a meaningful cocurricular event. Trinity College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I to create a center for learning that emphasized the connection between British rule by the Tudors. This political intention prevented many Irish Catholics from attending for centuries. The Book of Kells is housed in the old library of Trinity College. The book was created around AD 800  by Columban Monks. The book contains illustrations from the synoptic gospels and is written in Latin. Furthermore, the text contains many Celtic symbols thereby infusing Celtic cultural images with Christian iconography. A visit to Trinity College can be used to emphasize the importance of literacy to Douglass as well as the connection between three meaningful social institutions: the church, the government, and universities. These three forces worked together to create a social reality that privileged certain groups, namely Anglicans who were loyal to the British crown. Understanding the historic tensions within Ireland will provide a foundation for students to make connections between the plight of African Americans and the Irish people. Finally, a visit to Dublin should include an exploration of religious centers. Religion is a crucial feature of Irish identity and has been a source of tension because British rule sought to enforce a Protestant practice on a traditionally Catholic nation. Douglass visited many churches abroad and argued that churches in Europe had a responsibility to condemn slavery and not accept funds from churches in the United States who garnered funds through the brutal system. Thus, a visit to Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral will encourage students to consider the important theme of religion in Douglass’ speeches. Christ Church Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, contains a homeless Jesus sculpture outside that evokes meaningful conversations about the role of the church in the fight against poverty and homelessness. Class issues were apparent through Douglass’ journey from the Cambria episode to his observations about poverty in the country. Observing this sculpture created by Canadian artist Tim Schmalz will allow students to compare the opulence of the cathedrals with the squalor of the poor. This activity affords students an opportunity to contemplate Douglass’ claims about governments and churches benefitting from the work of slaves and underpaid freedman in a contemporary setting that shows how these problems persist. From Dublin, I recommend including multiple day trips to Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland was established in 1921 as a result of the

34 

J. L. HAYES

Government or Ireland Act of 1920 passed by the United Kingdom Parliament. This act effectively partitioned the island of Ireland into two states. The southern region known as the Republic of Ireland would become an autonomous country, but the northern region would be considered a territory connected to the United Kingdom. This decision created tension between both communities. Many of the individuals living in the northern region were descended from British colonists and maintain a loyal relationship with England, but other citizens of the north are ethnically Irish and would prefer a reunification with the southern free state. Thus, visits to Northern Ireland offer students an opportunity to consider how minorities manage complex political relationships with governmental authority determined to protect a national identity without embracing minority experience and representation. A visit to Northern Ireland should include a stop at the border crossing, a visit to Belfast, and a tour of Giant’s Causeway. Beginning with a stop at the border crossing, students might be surprised by how easy it is to move from one country to another. There are no border agents looking at passports; although students should bring their passports. However, a sign does signal the transition in territory. Reflective questions to consider might include prompts about the ease of movement and what the lack of regulation suggests about the relationship between the two territories. Also, students could compare and contrast travel in the United States with their visit from the Ireland free state to Northern Ireland. What similarities do they notice about travel throughout the states versus travel to bordering nations such as Canada or Mexico? Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland. After visiting Dublin, comparing travel experiences in Belfast and Dublin will create opportunities for discussion about these disparate hearts of governmental power. In Belfast, students should take a Black cab tour to explore the history of Northern Ireland. One such company is the Black Cab Tours. This company uses local members of the community as drivers and guides to help travelers navigate the complex social history of Northern Ireland. On this tour, students will be exposed to the political murals that mark the walls that separate Anglican communities from Catholic communities. In addition to observing the global multicultural freedom fighter murals, students will be exposed to political murals that embrace the diverse political perspectives of the community. Students should be encouraged to analyze how the artwork demonstrates political propaganda.

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

35

Following a guided tour, students could then visit Belfast City Hall as well as the Titanic Museum. Guided tours of the city hall are available and provide an overview of the construction history of the building as well as references to the political bodies that work within Belfast to maintain a connection to the United Kingdom. Students should compare the contrasting views of government and historical narratives between Belfast City Hall and Dublin City Hall. Additionally, a visit to the Titanic Museum will help students understand the legacy of shipping within all of Ireland. This visit will offer students an opportunity to learn about the construction of ships and see the location where the actual Titanic was built. Shipping and port cities were crucial to Douglass’ travels and connect to his formative development as a caulker in Baltimore. Students should also analyze ideas about social class connected to travel and revisit Douglass’ experience traveling on the Cambria. Students should be reminded of the beauty of Ireland’s natural landscape. One such site to visit is the Giant’s Causeway. On the coasts of Northern Ireland, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of Ireland’s rugged coast. Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a member of the National Nature Reserve. It consists of thousands of interlocking basalt columns formed from a past volcano eruption. In Douglass’ letter to Garrison, he described visiting this site, so students would be following his route through this visit. Before departing from the Republic of Ireland, I recommend a visit to Blarney Castle. Located near the city of Cork, which Douglass visited, Blarney Castle is a medieval fortress that contains the Blarney stone. Legend holds that if an individual kisses the stone, they will be given the gift of gab for seven years. This event would be a fun way to end the course while emphasizing the importance of Douglass’ speeches against slavery in the United States and in Europe. Moreover, students should leave Ireland remembering that this is the first place where Douglass felt free and his freedom came with a weight. The responsibility he felt to help destroy the system of slavery carried him beyond his initial birthplace on a plantation in Maryland.

Conclusion Douglass’ travels are central to his body of work. From his slave narratives to his speeches, he uses travel to protest against slavery. First, he frees himself. Then, he continues to travel to advocate for the dissolution of the

36 

J. L. HAYES

immoral system. While most readers are aware of Douglass’ first autobiography, it is his second work My Bondage and My Freedom that exposes that escaping from slavery did not ensure his safety or freedom. Douglass’ continued travels through the United States and abroad are a consciousness raising journey where he strives to show through his experiences the horrors of slavery. Yet, as he travels he creates a distinguished reputation which puts him at odds with his slave master. Thus to escape the true hold of slavery, Douglass must leave the United States. It is when he is abroad that his freedom is purchased and he legally obtains the status of freedman. Douglass’ journey to Great Britain, but more specifically to Ireland, evidences the importance of travel as a political tool to resist racist oppression. Douglass writes about travel openly in all of his autobiographies. However, it is his writings in My Bondage and My Freedom that expose the fragile nature of freedom for African Americans in the north. While he uses his travels abroad to garner support for his abolitionist cause, his journey was by no means an easy one. The reality is that slavery was a social institution perpetuated in the New World by European powers. However, as Douglass attempts to establish allies for his abolitionist cause, he chooses to use his speeches to encourage Europeans to take responsibility for their involvement in slavery to help abolish it.

Bibliography Basinger, Scott J. “Regulating Slavery: Deck-Stacking and Credible Commitment in the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.” Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, 19, no. 2 (2003): 307–342. “Belfast City Hall.” Belfast City Council. Accessed December 27, 2019. https:// www.belfastcity.gov.uk/tourism-venues/cityhall/cityhall-about.aspx. “Belfast Famous Black Cab Tours.” Black Cab Tours. Accessed December 27, 2019. http://belfastblackcabtours.co.uk/index.php. “Blarney Castle & Gardens.” Blarney Caste. Accessed December 27, 2019. https://blarneycastle.ie/. Blight, David W. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. New  York: Simon & Schuster, 2018. Chaffin, Tom. Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary. Charlottesville: University Virginia Press, 2014. “Christ Church Cathedral Dublin.” Christ Church Cathedral. Accessed December 27, 2019. https://christchurchcathedral.ie/. “City Hall.” Dublin City Hall. Accessed December 26, 2019. http://www.dublincity.ie/dublincityhall.

3  FREDERICK DOUGLASS’ DIDACTIC TRAVEL IN MY BONDAGE AND MY… 

37

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Boston: Anti-­ Slavery office, 1845. ———. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Boston: De Wolf & Company, 1892. ———. My Bondage and My Freedom. (1855) New York: Penguin, 2003. Gooding-Williams, Robert. “Douglass’s Declarations of Independence and Practices of Politics.” In A Political Companion to Frederick Douglass. Edited by Roberts Neil: Lexington: UP Kentucky, 2018. Hurston, Zora. Their Eyes Were Watching God. (1937) New  York: Harper Perennial, 2006. Kelly, Jason M. “Reading the Grand Tour at a Distance: Archives and Datasets in Digital History.” American Historical Review, 122, no. 2 (2017): 451–463. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/122.2.451. Levine, Robert S. The Lives of Frederick Douglass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2016. Mulligan, Adrian N. “‘As a lever gains power by its distance from the fulcrum’: tracing Frederick Douglass in the Irish Atlantic World.” Social & Cultural Geography. 18, no. 3(2017): p 395–414. Pettinger, Alasdair. Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019. Quinn, John F. “‘Safe in Old Ireland’: Frederick Douglass’s Tour, 1845–1846.” Historian. 64 no. 3–4 (2002): p  535–551. DOI: https://doi. org/10.1111/15406563.00003 Roston, Bill. “‘The Brothers on the Wall.’ International Solidarity and Irish Political Murals.” Journal of Black Studies 39, no. 3 (2009): 446–470. https:// www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40282572. “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Dublin.” Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Accessed December 25, 2019. https://www.stpatrickscathedral.ie/. “The Book of Kells.” Trinity College Dublin. Accessed December 26, 2019. https://www.tcd.ie/visitors/book-of-kells/. “Titanic Belfast.” Titanic Belfast. Accessed December 26, 2019. https://titanicbelfast.com/.

CHAPTER 4

Booker T. Washington and Experiential Pedagogy

Abstract  In this chapter, I pair excerpts from Booker T.  Washington’s autobiographies Up from Slavery with My Greater Education as a strategy for teaching study abroad in Denmark. By analyzing Washington’s works, I argue that a foundational component of his pedagogical style is the incorporation of experiential praxis. For Washington, hands on learning rivals the importance of classroom-based instruction for encouraging student development. Keywords  Reconstruction • Experiential pedagogy • Education • Economic independence During Booker T. Washington’s life, he published three autobiographies that document his rise from slavery and his role as an important African American spokesman on issues of civil rights, work, and education. His third autobiography My Larger Education, published in 1911, more so than his previous works advocates for the incorporation of experiential praxis as a pedagogical tool to advance the social status of poor African Americans. In this text, Washington considers his educational and professional experiences and posits that working in one’s discipline while studying creates a dynamic learning experience. For Washington, working in the field rivals the significance of classroom study since combining © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_4

39

40 

J. L. HAYES

meaningful work experience with classroom education provides students with a strong foundation for future economic success. In this chapter, I will explore teaching excerpts from Washington’s final autobiography along with excerpts from his most well-known work Up from Slavery (1901). Specifically, I will pair the chapters “The Struggle for Education” and “The Atlanta Exposition” in Up from Slavery with “Learning from Men and Things” and “What I learned about Education in Denmark” from My Larger Education to show the formation of his pedagogical approach. Washington’s speeches and autobiographical works consider the function of education through the prism of his personal experiences working and studying. As he travels to fundraise for Tuskegee University, he is exposed to more traditional academic settings. Yet, he comes to the conclusion that work can be a helpful tool for students to gain additional values that classroom instruction alone fails to instill. Ultimately, I argue that combining study abroad with Washington’s texts offers students an opportunity to consider the function of education and how work and traditional academic settings contribute to their development. W.E.B. Du Bois begins The Souls of Black Folks (1903) with a foundational question that scholars of the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction era struggled to answer: “How does it feel to be a problem?” (Du Bois 2) The Black problem was a foundational question that dealt with the real issues African Americans grappled with after freedom. Specifically, the question considers which strategy would most effectively integrate freedman into American society. While Du Bois and Washington debated on the best approach, the Black problem persisted during the Reconstruction era. Beyond issues of civil rights, education became an issue for freedom and progression. The period of Reconstruction lasted from 1865 to 1877. During this brief time period, Black people gained access to political power under the watchful eye of the federal government. “Radical Reconstruction, which Congress imposed on the South in 1867 after repudiating the Reconstruction plan of President Andrew Johnson, encouraged black teachers to become political leaders because freedmen now became voters” (Fairclough 46–47). Black teachers during Reconstruction understood one way to battle social problems was with education. By advocating literacy for children and older students, Black teachers sought to undo generations of educational denial. Therefore, secondary education and higher education became a political tool to fight racist oppression.

4  BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND EXPERIENTIAL PEDAGOGY 

41

Hampton Institute was founded in 1868 and was led by Samuel Chapman Armstrong a former Union General. In his later years, Armstrong became Washington’s mentor and advocate. Washington’s close working relationship with Armstrong informed his pedagogical approach at Tuskegee. Many schools that educated freedman were not founded by Black people; instead they were founded by White northerners and some missionaries. While many sought to offer Black people meaningful educational opportunities, they did not always emphasize the importance of political power and ideological independence. Consequently, many of these early schools incorporated racist ideologies that encouraged Black people to occupy a lower status and not strive for independence. For example, Armstrong’s educational ideology did not consider how “the ex-­slaves struggled to develop a social and educational ideology singularly appropriate to their defense of emancipation and one that challenged the social power of the planter regime. Armstrong developed a pedagogy and ideology designed to avoid such confrontations and to maintain within the South a social consensus that did not challenge traditional inequalities of wealth and power” (Anderson 33). Although Armstrong had good intentions, the reality of the post-war south was complicated by African Americans’ desire for freedom. Freedman wanted to learn and to use their education to promote their freedom. Armstrong sought to teach African American practical skills that could be used to contribute to their southern communities. Yet, these contributions were meant to prove their value and connection to the south without expressly arguing for civil rights. The tension within this approach would create problems for Washington in the future when rivals such as Du Bois would argue that Washington was willing to give up civil rights for economic power. For Du Bois, Washington’s ideological approach required Black people to relinquish: “first, political power, second, insistence on civil rights, [and] third, higher education of Negro youth” (51). For Du Bois, a focus on work and jobs connected to trades that freedman completed during the time of slavery did not promote advancement. Instead, this approach would relegate Black people to second class citizens working for White people. Moreover, if Black people could attain any businesses or economic independence, they would not be able to protect their capital without political rights. Yet, James Anderson argues that Hampton University did not fully employ a trade school pedagogical approach. “The traditional emphasis on Hampton as a trade or technical school has obscured the fact that it was founded and maintained as a normal school and that its mission was the

42 

J. L. HAYES

training of common school teachers for the South’s black educational system. The Hampton-Tuskegee curriculum was not centered on trade or agricultural training; it was centered on the training of teachers” (Anderson 34). Anderson argues that Hampton was a normal school first focusing on education and creating a class of Black teachers to work throughout the south and promote literacy throughout the Black community. The incorporation of work and trades were meant to add to the social values imparted to the teachers that would leave Hampton and teach throughout the south. For Washington, higher education was a space where students could learn more than discipline specific skills; these schools also socialized students for the historical context they faced in their fields of work. These values were meant to encourage teachers and their pupils to relish the importance of work within the community. Being of service to their racial communities before striving for individual success is a value that separates schools like Hampton and Tuskegee from their White counterparts. As such, Hampton and many other historically Black colleges and universities developed a different mission than predominately White institutions. In addition to teaching discipline-related skills, these schools also taught the importance of hard work as a strategy for personal and professional development. This was a time in which Washington noted “African Americans (‘Negroes’) were losing ground in the South in the employment sector due to increasingly harsh Jim Crow forms of legislation …In this context, Washington had essentially engaged in strategic retreat from any form of direct political action in favor of black separatist economic development” (Pope et  al. 511). Given the context of the Reconstruction and Post-­ Reconstruction eras, African American students and teachers faced a very different reality than their White counterparts. Thus, Washington’s work strategy that he learned through his experience as a slave, a freedman, and student at Hampton became a crucial component of his philosophical ideologies regarding education. Though not central to his pedagogical approach, work remains an educational strategy meant to allow students to develop transferrable skills beyond the classroom. One of the most famous passages in Up from Slavery involves Washington’s journey from the coal mines to Hampton Institute. Ill prepared for his journey, Washington practically walked across Virginia to the school. His journey was not easy and required many stops along the way to work for food and his fare. He stopped at Maiden and Richmond, Virginia. In Richmond, Washington worked on a ship and “when I had

4  BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND EXPERIENTIAL PEDAGOGY 

43

saved what I considered enough money with which to reach Hampton, I thanked the captain of the vessel for his kindness, and started again. Without any unusual occurrence I reached Hampton, with a surplus of exactly fifty cents with which to begin my education” (50). The work ethic that Washington exhibited along his journey to Hampton was needed to gain admission. He did not have proper clothes, supplies, or tuition to attend the school; yet, Washington was undeterred and utilized his skills cultivated through years of hard work to gain admission. Washington was persistent and eventually was presented with an opportunity to prove his readiness for admission when a teacher asked him to clean the recitation room. “I had the feeling that in a large measure my future depended upon the impression I made upon the teacher in the cleaning of that room” (52). After passing this test, Washington was granted admission and given a job as a janitor. This job helped provide him with room and board for the duration of his time at school, which allowed him to make meaningful connections with General Armstrong and provided further professional opportunities. Washington’s experiences working before Hampton and at Hampton provide the basis for his pedagogical approach to higher education for African Americans. Working in mines and in a domestic capacity provided him with a foundation to pursue his scholastic dreams. His ideas about the importance of work moved beyond his philosophy of education and eventually informed his beliefs about economic opportunity for African Americans. In “The Atlanta Exposition,” the crux of Washington’s speech involves the importance of work for the African American and White communities of the south. In his speech, he uses an anecdote to argue that Black and White communities should work together in order to create a more prosperous south. To Black people he commands them to: Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man's chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life;

44 

J. L. HAYES

shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. It is at the bottom of life we must begin, and not at the top. Nor should we permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities. (219–220)

Also known as “The Atlanta Compromise,” Washington’s critics thought his attempt to appeal to White audiences and employers caused him to relinquish civil rights and adopt a submissive posture to gain economic power. While these interpretations are valid, his subversive rhetorical approach subtly acknowledges racial prejudice against Black workers and sought to create opportunities for them while dissuading White business owners of Black political goals. “Washington preaches that labor is a virtue. This idea is repeated numerous times in his famous ‘Atlanta Exposition Address’ as well as in other parts of his second autobiography. This concept of remaining skillful in jobs requiring manual labor was one way of cautioning new free men to carefully examine the means by which they take on the new designation of freedom. It implies a movement from the simple to the complex and the ramifications of this abrupt move” (Jones 41). By demonstrating audience awareness during his speech, Washington advocated for the pride associated with Black work and encouraged the creation of Black business independence. This shrewd strategy was but one attempt to answer the Black problem that leaders in the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction era struggled to address. In My Larger Education, Washington adopts a reflective posture and considers his journey from slave to academic administrator. A great part of this discussion is the realization that learning occurs in different ways. Washington’s introduction to education and journey to Hampton does not reflect the trajectory many of the dignitaries he would later come in contact with took. Instead, his knowledge was a combination of work and school learning. Because of his social class, he was unable to devote the same amount of time to his reading as some of his peers. For this reason, he observed that “I say that I have gotten a large part of my education from actual contact with things, rather than through the medium of books” (Washington 4). Initially, this discovery left Washington with a feeling of sadness as though his experience did not quite measure up to others and left him at a disadvantage. “As soon as I began to meet educated and cultivated people, people who had had the advantage of study in

4  BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND EXPERIENTIAL PEDAGOGY 

45

higher institutions of learning, as well as the advantages of much reading and travel, I soon became conscious of my own disadvantages” (Washington 5). Yet, upon further reflection, he began to understand that the differences he observed in his economic background strengthened his understanding of various topics because he had hands on experience with them instead of relying solely on knowledge from reading about ideas. “After a time, however, I found that while I was at a certain disadvantage among highly educated and cultivated people in certain directions, I had certain advantages over them in others. I found that the man who has an intimate acquaintance with some department of life through personal experience has a great advantage over persons who have gained their knowledge of life almost entirely through books” (Washington 6). Washington began to understand that his experiences as a former slave and a poor freedman connected him with a larger body of individuals globally. As he continued to fundraise for Tuskegee, he took a greater interest in understanding the lives of poor Europeans. Washington’s desire to better understand the economic status of poor people abroad was meant to strengthen his African American community back home. He argued that “if the black people in America knew something of the burdens and difficulties under which the masses of the people in Europe live and work they would see that their own situation was by no means so hopeless as they have been sometimes taught to believe” (138). For Washington, his trips abroad were investigative opportunities to consider the ways in which African Americans could be empowered by understanding class dynamics globally. His strategy was meant to empower them to understand that their experiences were similar to others and these similarities should give them a space for community building with others on an international level. Washington’s journeys took him through much of Western Europe, however, his focus on England and Denmark provides the most meaningful observations regarding the lives of the poor. In England, Washington interacted with many common day laborers during the summer months and discovered their economic dependence on wealthy employers. “I arrived in London in the late summer. At that time all the polite world, all the distinguished and all the wealthy people, were away in some other part of the world upon their vacation, and the city, as far as these people were concerned, was like a winter residence which had been closed for summer” (139). Washington realized that the experiences of poor laborers in London largely depended upon the whims of the wealthy. When the

46 

J. L. HAYES

wealthy vacation and leave the city, economic opportunities dwindled for the working poor and created a difficult situation for them. Their economic dependence on this wealthy segment of the English population diminished their economic independence despite their perceived “political liberty” (140). This observation highlights Washington’s ideology regarding economic independence and recalls his political insights regarding the importance of creating economic prosperity within the African American community. Washington contrasts poor English laborers with poor African American laborers and discovers startling similarities in their economic situations. While the English laborers are dependent upon wealthy English landowners, African American agricultural laborers are similarly reliant upon wealthy southern landowners; yet the key difference between the two is their perceived political power. A question Washington implicitly asks is how do the English laborers’ civil rights contribute to their economic growth and social stability? His analysis does not provide an optimistic answer. Washington’s journey through Denmark has a more positive tone. In Denmark, Washington considers how the government instills nationalistic pride and cultural understanding in its educational systems. Washington focuses on Denmark largely because of the nation’s emphasis on agricultural development. He observes the emphasis the federal government puts into agriculture and understands that the nation’s reliance on the agrarian sector of their economy has contributed to its success. Although comparisons of a tiny Scandinavian country to the United States would be remiss to not mention the historical and cultural differences between them, Washington’s goal is to emphasize the continued importance of agriculture in the industrial world. Additionally, Washington emphasizes that the rural schools in Denmark take pride in instilling patriotic values and history into their students from a young age. “In the Danish rural high school, emphasis is put upon the folksongs, upon Danish history and the old Northern mythology. The purpose is to emphasize, in opposition to the Latin and Greek teaching of the colleges, the value of the history and the culture of the Scandinavian people; and, incidentally, to instill into the minds of the pupils the patriotic conviction that they have a place and mission of their own among the people of the world” (157). Washington’s focus on the instruction of culture is an important departure from the emphasis he places on experiential praxis in pedagogical approaches for Tuskegee and other Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Though Washington focuses on Danish high schools, he implies the importance of incorporating an

4  BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND EXPERIENTIAL PEDAGOGY 

47

emphasis on Black culture and history at HBCUs. The goal of teaching African American students about their history from the perspective of Black people is an empowering tool to encourage students. Hope is at the center of Washington’s pedagogy, and he seeks to instill a hopeful spirit in his students by creating opportunities to be uplifted by understanding their own cultural importance and contributions to society. An HBCU would be uniquely positioned to make this contribution to African American students and add to centers of higher education in the United States because they were founded with the express purpose of equipping students with meaningful skills to become prosperous members of society. One way to reach this goal is to counteract the years of institutionalized racism within school systems and present African American students with positive images of self and their history. Young maintains that “Washington’s educational philosophy must be seen as an attempt by an individual, representing a group of the powerless, to redirect as much as possible of the nation’s resources from the white to the black segment of the nation, by guile and infiltration” (226). Washington used his platform to advocate for disenfranchised poor African American laborers in the south. His idea was that they could utilize the skills they had cultivated through years of labor and leverage these skills and transform their social status. By combining skilled laborers’ work experience with scholastic achievement, Washington promoted a sweeping academic program meant to positively impact rural African American workers. Teaching Washington in a contemporary context requires a direct attempt to unpack the complex cultural situation he lived within. Washington understood the deeply racist and violent atmosphere of the south and promoted a separatist agenda that encouraged African Americans to build business and communities independent of White people. This progressive goal is often misunderstood because of Washington’s use of subversive tactics. Teaching Washington should start from a place of understanding subversive language. Therefore, close reading and an understanding of the historical and cultural moment Washington is connected to will help students better understand the arguments he makes and the rhetorical strategies he uses to make them. For this reason, I suggest reading My Larger Education with Up from Slavery to offer students an idea about the problems Washington seeks to answer during the Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction era. Additionally, students should be introduced to other writers from the period to understand how different voices characterized the serious problems of domestic terrorism

48 

J. L. HAYES

African Americans faced in the south. Ida B. Wells’ pamphlet The Red Record would be a helpful contribution to demonstrate the issues of lynching and violence that permeated the period. Finally, pairing excerpts from The Souls of Black Folks by W.E.B.  Du Bois, specifically his criticisms of Washington and his discussion of double consciousness, would add a fruitful counterpoint to Washington’s perspective. Moving beyond the literature, travel abroad would help frame Washington’s insights into the connections between poor African Americans and poor laborers in Europe. A visit to Copenhagen, Denmark, could help drive this point home. Because so much of Washington’s work is connected to education, a visit to an institution of higher learning seems the most apt way to evaluate the significance of education on the development of a nation’s population. The University of Copenhagen would be a good fit for such an exploration. The university offers study abroad programs where visitors from North America and Europe can take courses in various disciplines. The university is the oldest institution in Denmark and the second oldest in Scandinavia. Denmark is different from other western European countries in that its history with the Transatlantic slave trade was not as pronounced as Great Britain, France, or Belgium. Where visits to Great Britain and France demonstrate their connection to slavery and imperialism through their vast diverse populations, Denmark does not visibly have as diverse of a population. Yet, the nation did make money from the trade and maintained an important presence in the Caribbean with various colonies that sent money back to Denmark. Washington praises the Danish for their national pride, but neglects to condemn their involvement in the slave trade that dehumanized thousands of African slaves. Many of these slaves would eventually immigrate to the United States and become a part of the laboring class of Black workers struggling to achieve stability. A visit to the National Museum of Denmark will show students’ Danish involvement in the slave trade and help explain the connection to Denmark’s economic prosperity to slavery in the New World. Additionally, students could research the connection between the United States and Denmark through the 1917 purchase of three Danish islands: St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. These three islands remain US territories but also connect the nations in terms of slave uprisings and rebellions from freedman. Slavery was banned in the Danish colonies in 1848, yet freedman in the colonies experienced racial violence and intolerance for decades after. Students can visit a monument named I am Queen

4  BOOKER T. WASHINGTON AND EXPERIENTIAL PEDAGOGY 

49

Mary that honors Mary, one woman who participated in the 1878 Fireburn Rebellion. Mary, along with other participants in the rebellion, was transported to Copenhagen and served time in prison there. Reading about slavery, colonization, and the disenfranchisement of freed Black people in the Danish colonies should provide students with a deeper understanding of the pervasive nature of racism and intolerance that follow the abolition of slavery in different parts of the New World. Finally, because agriculture is a major focus in Washington’s work an evaluation of the farm to table approach to cuisine should be explored. In 2004, Claus Meyer authored the “Manifesto for the Nordic Kitchen,” and this manifesto was adopted by many chefs in Denmark and the Scandinavian region. This guiding document transformed the focus of cuisine in the region from French and Mediterranean styles to a return to old-fashioned methods and encouraged innovative recipes that incorporated traditional flavors and approaches to cooking. One key aspect of the manifesto was a commitment to cooking with locally sourced products and flavors. This commitment represents a renaissance and renewed affection for agriculture in Denmark and Scandinavia more broadly. Michelin star restaurants such as Rene Redzepi’s Noma would be too extravagant for students to take advantage of this cultural movement. However, there are food halls such as Reffen, which is open from spring through the fall, and maintains 50 food stalls committed to creating locally sourced cuisine while and reducing waste by relying on organic and compostable by-products. Combining Washington’s literature with a visit to Copenhagen offers students the possibility to reflect on his appreciation of agriculture and work. Washington’s travels abroad were occasions to consider the plight of poor African American workers at home and revisit strategies for promoting their success. Instead of interpreting class problems as static issues that could not be changed, Washington’s approach to education suggests a solution-oriented strategy that coupled skilled laborers’ abilities with educational opportunities. Travel encouraged Washington to remain hopeful about the social position of poor African Americans back home because he saw their problems revealed in the lives of other poor people abroad. Hopefully, when students study abroad they will observe the differences in foreign locations but like Washington observe similarities in experiences and see themselves as important contributors to a global community.

50 

J. L. HAYES

Bibliography “About the University of Copenhagen.” University of Copenhagen. Accessed January 7, 2020. https://www.ku.dk/english/ Anderson, James D. The Education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1988. “Background.” I am Queen Mary. Accessed January 6, 2020. https://www. iamqueenmary.com/ Du Bois, W.E.B. The Souls of Black Folks. Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Co., 1903. Fairclough, Adam. A Class of Their Own. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007. Jones, Evora W. “Booker T. Washington as Pastoralist: Authenticating the Man at Century’s End.” CLA Journal 43, no. 1 (1999): 38–53. “National Museum of Denmark – a collection of museums all over the country.” National Museum of Denmark. Accessed January 8, 2020. https://en. natmus.dk/ “The New Nordic Cuisine Movement.” Meyers. Accessed January 12, 2020. https://meyers.dk/en/the-new-nordic-cuisine-movement/ Pope, Blaine D. et al. “Booker T. and the New Green Collar Workforce: An Earth-­ Based Reassessment of the Philosophy of Booker T. Washington.” Journal of Black Studies 42, no. 4 (2011) 507–529. “Reffen.” Reffen. Accessed January 7, 2020. https://reffen.dk/en/ Sorenson, Martin Selsoe. “Denmark Gets First Public Statue of a Black Woman, a ‘Rebel Queen.’” New York Times. March 31, 2018. https://www.nytimes. com/2018/03/31/world/europe/denmark-statue-black-woman.html Washington, Booker T. My Larger Education. 1911. New York: Dover, 2013. ———. Up from Slavery. New York: Double Day, 1901. Young, Alfred. “The Educational Philosophy of Booker T.  Washington A Perspective for Black Liberation.”: Phylon 37, no. 3 (1976): 224–235.

CHAPTER 5

Where I Can Be Myself: Helga Crane’s Quest for Home in Quicksand

Abstract  In this chapter, I advocate applying Homi Bhabha’s concept of the “unhome” to teaching Nella Larsen’s novel Quicksand in a study abroad course to Copenhagen, Denmark. This chapter connects Helga Crane’s biracial identity to her feeling of “unhome” as the catalyst for her journey from the south, to Chicago, to Harlem, to Copenhagen, and ultimately the United States again. Finally, the text exposes how travel does not fully offer solutions for characters struggling with racism in the United States and foreshadows the difficulties later writers experience trying to navigate America’s complex racial milieu. Keywords  Unhome • Denmark • Marriage • Biracial • Heteronormative There is a cliché that says “one cannot out run their problems because wherever they go there they will be.” This phrase offers an approach to understanding Helga Crane in Nella Larsen’s novella Quicksand (1928). In this text, a young biracial school teacher working in the south becomes dissatisfied with the narrow confines of her work and social environment. Although living a rather privileged life, she does not want to continue teaching in Naxos. “Helga Crane had taught in Naxos for almost two years” but had grown dissatisfied with the institution’s focus on Negro education and Negro uplift (Larsen 39). For Crane, Naxos is a space that © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_5

51

52 

J. L. HAYES

emphasizes her otherness because she feels that she does not fit within the social expectations of the upper echelon of Black academic and social life. As a biracial woman with no familial connections to speak of, Crane’s dissatisfaction at Naxos presents a pattern of behavior that sends her looking for a space where she feels at home. This journey begins as a domestic adventure that starts in the south and continues to Chicago and later Harlem. After her dissatisfaction continues in Midwestern and Northern locales, Crane travels abroad to Copenhagen, the home of her deceased Danish mother. After her unhappiness arises again in Copenhagen, she begins to retrace parts of her journey returning to Harlem and finally settling in and becoming trapped in the south. Crane’s unsuccessful journey toward a fulfilling space highlights the trouble upwardly mobile women of color face in attempts to make meaningful choices to create their own contentment. Had Helga married any number of suitors including James Vayle (her Naxos beau) or Axel Olsen (her Copenhagen admirer), she might have found a stable environment to set down roots. Yet, Helga’s journey reveals that a single woman demonstrating agency over her self during the early twentieth century has relatively few choices outside of marriage for stability. I propose teaching Larsen’s Quicksand by applying Homi Bhabha’s concept of the unhome. In “The World and the Home,” Bhabha describes a concept called “the unhomely.” This idea captures something of the estranging sense of the relocation of the home and the world in an unhallowed place. To be unhomed is not to be homeless, nor can the “unhomely” be easily accommodated in that familiar division of life into private and public spheres…the intimate recesses of the domestic space become sites for history’s most intricate invasions. In that displacement the border between home and world becomes confused; and, uncannily, the private and public become part of each other, forcing upon us a vision that is as divided as it is disorienting. (141)

Bhabha describes a trope in fiction where characters navigate a feeling of unease with their surroundings. He suggests that it is the responsibility of the critic, or for our purposes the reader, to investigate the historical and cultural ruptures that displace characters from their surroundings. In other words, what historical events from the past cause characters in the present to feel ill at ease? How does this present feeling expose the continued impact of historical events that are not addressed?

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

53

For Helga Crane, her familial narrative opens a space for conversations about colonialism. Her mother, a Danish woman, has a child with a West Indian immigrant. Lunde and Westerstahl Stenport claim that “the Danish West Indies was colonized in 1666 and ruled by Denmark for three and a half centuries until it was sold to the United States in 1917 and renamed the Virgin Islands. Although these three islands (especially Saint Thomas) played a vital role in the black Atlantic’s Middle Passage and the transfer of slaves, goods, and capital in the eighteenth century and beyond, Denmark’s legacy as a slave trader and colonizer continues to be overlooked” (Arne Lunde and Anna Westerstahl Stenport 231). Helga’s parents provide an opportunity to considering the lingering impact of Denmark’s colonial history in the modern era as Helga struggles to find a place to fit in because she is the product of a Dane and Danish West Indian. Once their relationship ends, the mother is left to struggle to raise a mixed raced daughter in the United States. Issues of race, gender, and class couple to create tension for the mother who ultimately dies. However, her life and death become a space for critical evaluation into Crane’s sense of unease in all places from Naxos to Copenhagen. Her biracial identity places her in between accepted positions in society and results in a feeling of unease or unhome. I argue that Helga’s quest for a space to feel at home is on one level a journey toward reconciling the silence surrounding her existence. She exists, but so many people wish to deny her existence because of her mix raced heritage. Acknowledging Helga’s complex familial history requires other people to recognize their connection to her or how their privileged positions rely on her subordinate status. Therefore, Helga’s feeling of unhappiness returns because no matter where she goes in the United States or in Denmark, she must negotiate how her presence welcomes a social negotiation of being separate and connected with her surroundings.

Naxos In Naxos, Crane struggles with her inability to fit in with the academic machine. Larsen’s description of the school pinpoints Crane’s revulsion while acknowledging her initial desire to be among the kinds of people that Naxos represents. For Crane, Naxos represents a whitewashed version of Black excellence. Before her decision to leave the school, she recalls a White speaker commending the students and staff of Naxos for their submission to White standards. “This was, he had told them with obvious

54 

J. L. HAYES

sectional pride, the finest school for Negroes anywhere in the country…And he said that if all Negroes would only take a leaf out of the book of Naxos and conduct themselves in the manner of the Naxos products there would be no race problem, because Naxos Negroes knew what was expected of them” (37). Crane is angered by the White speaker’s condescending speech and feels separated from the other members of the audience who appear to calmly listen to his insulting comments. For Crane, this educational approach suggests adopting a submissive posture to Whites. She resents the values embodied in Naxos and understands that the speaker hints at an underlying tension between White and Black communities in the south. For Black success to exist in this context, a subordinate position must be adopted. The southern order, as she sees it, represented through Naxos is an academic program meant to socialize Black people toward subservience and accommodating Whiteness. The lack of a negative response to the speaker further emphasizes the adopted order and creates further distance between Crane and her peers at Naxos. The order she perceives in this thinly veiled imitation of southern HBCU’s such as Tuskegee University represents the sacrifices middle-class African Americans make to fit within this racist southern environment. “The South. Naxos. Negro education. Suddenly she hated them all. Strange, too, for this was the thing which she had ardently desired to share in, to be a part of this monument to one man’s genius and vision” (Larsen 38). In the south, participating in this educational environment as a teacher makes Crane feel complicit in the indoctrination of young Black minds. Thus, her desire to leave and for further action is a protest to the contradictions she perceives there. “Helga Crane had taught in Naxos for almost two years, at first with the keen joy and zest of those immature people who have dreamed dreams of doing good to their fellow men. But gradually this zest was blotted out giving place to a deep hatred for the trivial hypocrisies and careless cruelties which were, unintentionally, perhaps, a part of the Naxos policy of uplift” (Larsen 40). Crane’s social awakening to the consequences of the harmful reality of Naxos sets in before her decision to leave. This racial consciousness instigates an evaluation of her time in the south and the roles she has willingly adopted to succeed in this atmosphere. As she contemplates her departure her relationships to the institution and her romantic relationship to James Valye provide another space to assess the middle-class values she embraces to participate in the Naxos machine.

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

55

Helga Crane’s engagement to James Vayle represents an adoption of Naxos’ values. One part of operating within this elite social circle in Naxos is making a good match through marriage. While marriage is an expected step in solidifying one’s status, Crane’s familial background poses problems for her. As she attempts to fulfill marital expectations, she realizes that leaving Naxos and abandoning her engagement to Valye would be a further act of protest to the values that Naxos represents. “The family of James Vayle, in nearby Atlanta, would be glad. They had never liked the engagement, had never liked Helga Crane. Her own lack of family disconcerted them. No family. That was the crux of the whole matter” (Larsen 43). Crane rationalizes her departure by comparing her familial background to Vayle’s and insists that pushing him away will help achieve her greater purpose of shunning the standards she feels are connected to unrealistic ideals. Yet, Crane seems drawn to the materials associated with a middle-class lifestyle and though she wishes to separate herself from her job and marriage prospects, she is not willing to acknowledge that her choice will impact her ability to maintain a materialistic standard of living. In teaching the Naxos portion of the novel, I strive to have students pinpoint moments of tension within Helga’s life. For class discussions, we focus on the assembly and her discussion with Dr. Anderson since these episodes reveal her agitation with her environment and decision to move forward in her life. Sometimes, students express difficulty with the less than practical choices Helga makes. For example, how can she quit her job without having any other job setup to secure her livelihood? These questions address reasonable issues with the character and offer a moment for deeper discussion. What sacrifices are required for living with integrity? These types of questions typically lead to robust discussions about the nature of work and the multiple sacrifices to personal life and pleasure people are conditioned to make to pay the bills. Many of the students find Helga frivolous although they agree with her decision to leave, so this tension in understanding her desire to separate from a less than beneficial environment and the compulsion to stay in a secure job offers the class a chance to consider values in a deeper sense. While the class typically does not come to a consensus about whether it is better for Helga to stay or go, the discussion highlights a pattern of behavior they will be able to observe during her journey. The Naxos section is foundational to teaching Quicksand, because students observe the beginning of a self-destructive pattern in Helga’s life. This pattern can provide a framework for investigating Helga’s travels. The first question to consider is what makes Helga

56 

J. L. HAYES

decide she needs to leave a city? An investigation of this impulse to move when she feels separate from her environment occurs again and again in the novel and provides meaningful connections between the disparate locals she visits.

Chicago After Helga’s departure from Naxos, she ventures back home to Chicago. The very real issue of money and the cost of living plagues Helga. Looking for support she thinks of reaching out to her Uncle Peter. Family is a difficult subject for Helga because of her mother’s choices and untimely death. In her final comments to her principal at Naxos she notes that “If you’re speaking of family, Dr. Anderson, why, I haven’t any. I was born in a slum in Chicago…My father was a gambler who deserted my mother, a white immigrant. It is even uncertain that they were married” (Larsen 54–55). Helga’s words are meant to shock her boss and assure him that she does not fit in Naxos, but they also demonstrate her complex familial history. Although she was raised in Chicago, her memory of the city and her family life there are tainted by the choices her mother made. Her thoughts of her mother “a fair Scandinavian girl in love with life with love, with passion, dreaming, and risking all in one blind surrender. A cruel sacrifice. In forgetting all but love she had forgotten, or had perhaps never known, that some things the world never forgives” (Larsen 56). A white woman at the turn of the century having a Black immigrant’s child was a taboo choice, and Helga seems to romanticize the woman who could make a choice in spite of the consequence she would face after. Her idealistic image of her mother prevents Helga from seeing that she is continuing a pattern in her own life. Instead of making choices that would provide her with security, Helga shuns conventional opportunities and takes a more uncertain path. Though, Helga’s mother eventually remarried, this marriage was an attempt to adhere to social expectations by marrying a man of similar race and social status. This was a safe choice after her initial risky decision. Although her mother made a safe choice in her second marriage, it did not provide security for Helga. Instead, the death of her mother causes her to have to rely on Uncle Peter’s financial assistance. Once Helga returns to Chicago, she reaches out to her uncle to try and secure money to survive. Helga’s visit to her uncle’s home is a very provocative scene and

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

57

presents students with an opportunity to connect the difficulty Helga’s familial background and lack of support system creates for her mental stability. One activity I include in teaching this section is a guided group discussion. It is not always so easy for students to willingly adopt the perspective of characters they do not like in a text and for good reason. If a character displays obvious racist, sexist, or homophobic perspectives, I want my students to be able to identify these problems. Likewise, I encourage students to consider a difficult character’s point of view to uncover how they could have arrived at this perspective. The goal is not to rationalize or excuse their behavior; instead, the goal of the activity is to promote understanding the underlying fears that promote these types of toxic worldviews. In this activity, students can work independently or within groups. They are typically assigned a specific character and provided with guided discussion questions to frame their inquiry. I try to choose a dynamic part of the novel that is dialogue driven so students can unpack the specific language a character uses or does not use as revelations of their specific subject position. One passage within the novel that provides a fruitful place for analysis is Helga’s conversation with Uncle Peter’s new wife, Mrs. Nielson in Chap. 5. This chapter is a rather desperate part of Helga’s experience in Chicago. With little money, she has booked a room at a YMCA shelter, yet she has squandered much of her money shopping. The reality that she will not be able to afford to live in Chicago for very long is the driving force in Helga’s decision to go visit Uncle Peter. In this activity, I might have three groups each responsible for explaining the perspective of various characters in the chapter and themes. The characters chosen are Helga, Mrs. Nielson, and Uncle Peter. Below are questions meant to help guide the individual group discussions: Helga Questions 1. Agenda connects to motivation. Fully define Helga’s goals for visiting Uncle Peter. 2. Consider how Uncle Peter’s household has changed (hint→the new maid and the new wife). How are Helga’s expectations impeded by these changes? Furthermore, how does Helga’s ignorance of these monumental changes suggest the distance within her relationship with her uncle?

58 

J. L. HAYES

3. Evaluate Helga’s responses to Mrs. Nielson’s questions. What questions are asked? How does she respond? Why is she so careful with her language? Consider how Mrs. Nielson insults her niece. 4. Helga struggles to leave after this confrontation. As she leaves, she laughs. People laugh for different reasons. Evaluate Helga’s laugh and consider the meaning of this ironic gesture. 5. Consider setting after the altercation. How is Chicago described in terms of weather? How does the weather reflect Helga’s mood? 6. Finally, consider the last line of the chapter. “She, Helga Crane, had no home” (Larsen 63). Did Helga believe she had a home before her visit to Uncle Peter? How does her visit emphasize her loneliness? Mrs. Nielson Questions . Describe Mrs. Nielson’s tone in her conversation with Helga? 1 2. How does Mrs. Nielson attempt to distance herself and her husband from familial responsibilities to Helga? 3. Consider the use of repetition in this section. Repetition is a rhetorical strategy meant to demonstrate emphasis. What ideas are repeated from Mrs. Nielson’s perspective? What ideas is she wishing to emphasize to Helga? 4. How does Mrs. Nielson use Helga’s mother’s marriage (or lack of marriage) to argue about the legitimacy of Uncle Peter’s responsibility to Helga? 5. Finally, consider Helga as a symbol to Mrs. Nielson. What does she represent? How does this representation create tension in terms of the way Mrs. Nielson understands her own identity? Uncle Peter Questions 1. How might the interaction between Mrs. Nielson and Helga have been different if he were present? 2. Why hasn’t Uncle Peter told his niece about his marriage? 3. What has been Uncle Peter’s past relationship with his niece? 4. How will this relationship change now that he is married?

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

59

5. Consider the theme of marriage in the novel. How does Uncle Peter’s marriage create new obligations for him? How do his responsibilities to his dead sister compare to his responsibilities to his wife? After the groups have time to discuss the questions and come up with answers, they are better able to lead a discussion regarding their character. While many of them will still maintain very strong negative reactions toward a character like Mrs. Nielson, the goal of the group discussion is to encourage the students to consider competing character perspectives. Simultaneously, the students are analyzing important themes throughout the work including family, marriage, and responsibility. As Helga struggles to find her place in the world without a firm familial backing, students are able to evaluate the choices she makes.

Harlem Helga’s departure to Harlem is less haphazard as her journey from Naxos to Chicago. After her unsuccessful visit to Uncle Peter, Helga receives good news upon her return to the YWCA. The workers have a job opportunity for her that will provide her with money and food for four days. The job would require Helga to serve as a speech editor and companion to a widow named Mrs. Hayes-Rore. Her connection with Hayes-Rore positions Helga to move within the intelligentsia of Black Harlem. These individuals are committed to racial uplift and promote a separatist perspective that challenges Helga to consider where she fits in. As a biracial woman with connections to her White family, Helga is compelled to perform Blackness in a way that denies her identity. For example, when traveling with Mrs. Hayes-Rore, she is questioned about her background. After hearing Helga’s story, Mrs. Hayes-Rore helps her secure lodging, a job, and meaningful connections while providing Helga with a piece of advice. “And, by the way, I wouldn’t mention that my people are white, If I were you. Colored people won’t understand it, and after all it’s your own business. When you’ve lived as long as I have, you’ll know that what others don’t know can’t hurt you. I’ll just tell Anne that You’re a friend of mine whose mother’s dead. That’ll place you well enough and it’s all true. I never tell lies. She can fill in the gaps to suit herself and anyone else curious enough to ask” (Larsen 74). While Mrs. Hayes-Rore attempts to prepare Helga for the environment she will enter, she also alerts the reader to racial tension within Harlem. Throughout the novel, Helga has struggled to fit

60 

J. L. HAYES

in with White and Black communities feeling separate because of her biracial heritage. It seems that Harlem, a supposed race capital and place for Black community, will also disappoint Helga as she will not feel fully at home there. As a counterpoint to Helga’s perspective, Larsen includes two African American widow women in the Harlem section of the novel. In Naxos, Helga ended her engagement to James Vayle. Her marriage to Vayle would have ensured her economic and social stability, but she chose a different path. Comparing and contrasting Mrs. Hayes-Rore and her niece Anne Grey with Helga present an opportunity to consider gender norms and tradition in the novel. Mrs. Hayes-Rore and Anne Grey have fulfilled societal expectations and used marriage as a strategy to ensure their social status. However, they have attained a sense of independence now that their husbands are dead. Fulfilling the heteronormative obligation to marry fulfills traditional feminine expectations, and the subsequent deaths of these husbands provide them a sort of social covering that affords them the ability to live a life free from the expectation of marrying again. If they so choose to remarry, as Anne eventually does, the women will again have to fulfill traditional expectations of femininity by occupying a subordinate position to their husband and fulfilling his needs. This would immediately undermine the freedom they attain through their widow status. Helga enjoys the benefits of the widows by staying in close proximity to them. Their affluence and connection afford her the affluent surrounding she craves without having to marry and satisfy marital obligations herself. Yet, this temporary break from her economic insecurity does not usher in a space for more reflection on a practical course correction. Instead, Helga begins to feel the same uneasiness with her surroundings in Harlem and again decides to leave. Before discussing Helga’s departure to Copenhagen, a comparison and contrast between Harlem and Naxos would expose the similarities and subtle differences between the two settings. Moreover, such an activity should signal to the students the repetitive issues Helga struggles with as she attempts to find a place where she feels at home. To better understand the conflict Helga negotiates, a discussion of the Harlem Renaissance and the ideals it embodied would be helpful to provide the students with cultural and historical context of the literary period. I recommend framing the discussion with two essays from writers of the period: Alain Locke’s “The New Negro” and Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Artists and the Racial Mountain.” These essays provide students with critical insight

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

61

regarding the period and expose the competing ideas regarding race within the period. Starting with Locke’s essay is crucial for emphasizing the spirit of the period. “The New Negro” (1925) essay provides a definition for the period. In this essay, Locke juxtaposes the Reconstruction/Post-­ Reconstruction era with the Harlem Renaissance through a comparison of what he calls the New Negro versus the Old Negro. Locke explains the concept of the Old Negro mentality by addressing “the negro himself has contributed his share to this through a sort of protective social mimicry forced upon him by the adverse circumstances of dependence. So for generations in the mind of America, the Negro has been more of a formula than a human being—a something to be argued about, condemned or defended, to be ‘kept down,’ or ‘in his place,’ or ‘helped up,’ to be worried with or worried over, harassed or patronized, a social bogey or social burden” (Locke 974). Locke’s description of the Reconstruction era speaks to the Negro Problem following the Civil War and the various strategies writers such as Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. Du Bois considered in advocating for Black people’s rights and economic mobility. Locke positions Harlem and The New Negro in opposition to this view of Blackness. Instead of starting with Blackness as a problem to be solved in the south, he extends his discussion of race to issues of social class. As such, his discussion of Harlem shifts into a geographical discussion of causes for the Great Migration and other historical factors that compelled the shift in Black population from the south to the north and from rural areas to urban centers. The reality is that depiction of the New Negro through a thematic focus on racial consciousness, racial uplift, community, and economic growth is an idealistic vision of Harlem and what the Renaissance represented at the time. His hopeful tone does not acknowledge the tensions within the period or the essentialist understanding of Blackness proffered through the lower class Black populations. Following Locke with Hughes with “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926) provides a smooth transition to consider the inner conflict within Black artists. The Black artist in this essay pairs nicely with the Black intellectual in Larsen’s novel as both struggle with standards of Whiteness and achieving success as a minority in the United States. Hughes begins with an anecdote. He recounts an encounter with a fellow young Black poet who claimed he wanted to be known for his poetry not for his race. Hughes interprets this desire as a rejection of Black identity and aesthetics. From Hughes’ perspective:

62 

J. L. HAYES

I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negro art in America—this urge within the race toward ­whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as much American as possible. (Hughes 1321)

Hughes’ analysis of this “Negro poet” connects to Helga’s revulsion at the hypocrisy she observes in Harlem. For a place that is supposed to represent a racial Mecca there seems to be a hyper critical focus on whiteness. She observes this tension most clearly with Anne Grey noticing the contradiction in Anne’s hatred for White people and her simultaneous mimicry of their ideals. “But she aped their clothes, their manners, and their gracious ways of living. While proclaiming loudly the undiluted good of all things Negro, yet she disliked the songs, the dances, and the softly blurred speech of the race. Toward these things she showed only a disdainful contempt, tinged sometimes with a faint amusement” (Larsen 80). Reading the two texts together encourages the students to understand the interdependence on constructions of race. Helga represents an unusual presence during the time period because she highlights the binary representation of race. Blackness is defined in opposition to Whiteness in Hughes’ text, but Helga’s experience demonstrates that both conceptions of race inform one another. There is no Black without White, yet members of both groups refuse to acknowledge the socially constructed nature of race. Irina Anisimova surmises “Quicksand focuses on the instability of racial identity and presents the tension between racial essentialism and the conception of race as a social construction” (176). Anne Grey, like Mrs. Nielson, understands that they are connected in some way with the other racial group yet arrogantly shun the other race as if the act of disassociation affirms a privileged status. Hughes acknowledges counterclaims in his essay when he states “An artist much be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose” (Hughes 1324). He advocates for artists to create from their own perspective which would require them to embrace their identity. Helga struggles with fully embracing her identity because in Harlem, she is not allowed to truly be herself. She must deny a part of her racial identity to fit in to be perceived as a part of the group. This performance proves increasingly difficult as she recognizes the hypocritical racial performances from Anne Grey and her peers.

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

63

Copenhagen Once Harlem proves an unfit home for Helga, she turns her sights to her mother’s ancestral homeland, Denmark. The idea to revisit Copenhagen is planted by Uncle Peter who sends a goodbye letter with a check for $5000.00 representing her inheritance. He suggests a visit to her Aunt Katrina because “she always wanted her” (Larsen 85). The letter and inheritance provide Helga with closure from her relationship with him that her last meeting with Mrs. Neilson hinted at. However, an opportunity to reconnect with her aunt and to be welcomed home affords Helga the prospect of reestablishing a familial relationship. The journey also presents a chance for Helga to embrace the Danish part of her identity that she felt compelled to hide during her time in Harlem. After arriving in Copenhagen, it becomes immediately apparent why Aunt Katrina wanted Helga. Helga is a commodity that can be used to propel the Dahls from one social strata to another by presenting her as an exoticized Black beauty to be ogled. Aunt Katrina plans to make a spectacle of Helga by dressing her in gaudy clothes that draw attention to her racial difference and play on racist and sexist stereotypes relating to Black femininity. Gregory Hampton claims that “the negative connotations attached to the term ‘exotic’ are often misread by those who are named as exotic, but are rarely misunderstood by those doing the naming. For example, ‘exotic’ is not necessarily synonymous with terms like ‘sexy,’ ‘attractive,’ or ‘beautiful.’ Exotic, as in the case of Helga Crane, may connote ‘oversexed,’ ‘bizarre,’ ‘deviant,’ or even ‘grotesque’” (Hampton 169–170). This insidious plan first becomes apparent as Aunt Katrina attempts to help Helga dress for an afternoon tea. “But you, you’re young. And you’re a foreigner, and different. You must have bright things to set off the color of your lovely brown skin. Striking things, exotic things. You must make an impression” (Larsen 98). The impression that Aunt Katrina hopes Helga will make is not as a member of the family coming for a simple visit, instead Helga’s Blackness will be the center of her presentation and is meant to distinguish her from other Danes. Sadly, even in her mother’s homeland, Helga is not allowed to be at home. Despite Aunt Katrina’s goals, Helga’s initial experience in Copenhagen is delightful to her because she has the opportunity to be the center of attention and admired. However, the attention and constant gaze signal her difference within the Copenhagen community. Her race and nationality set her apart from her Danish peers, and this difference creates a barrier

64 

J. L. HAYES

from her membership into the community. “To them this girl, this Helga Crane this mysterious niece of the Dahls, was not to be reckoned seriously in their scheme of things. True, she was attractive, unusual, in an exotic, almost savage way, but she wasn’t one of them. She didn’t count at all” (Larsen 100). The spectacle of her presence at various social gatherings emphasizes her Blackness and this hypercritical focus on her race foreshadows her eventual retreat from Copenhagen. As Helga is introduced to the Copenhagen community she notices “the stares or the audible whispers… [and] recurring words ‘sorte’ which she recognized as the Danish word for ‘black’” (Larsen 99). Helga’s color, as opposed to her biracial ancestry in America, proves the distinguishing aspect of identity in Denmark. The focus on color and the refusal to acknowledge the humanity of Helga objectifies her. Once the novelty of her presence wears off on the Copenhageners, she is able to move about the city fading into the backdrop representing almost a unique piece of architecture that provides a random pop of color to the city, but she never fully blends in or becomes absorbed within the fabric of daily life. Instead, she wanders aimlessly around the city taking in the qualities that distinguish Denmark from America. Larsen incorporates a list of cultural landmarks and cultural features of the city including the biking culture, the changing of the guard at Amalienborg Palace, the canals and boats populating the port city, Christiansborg Palace, fish vendors on the Gammelstrand, Royal Danish porcelain, and even local cuisine including specialty bake goods and smørrebrød (Larsen 105–106). Helga’s observations of these unique features show her attempt to get to know the city, but she remains marginalized as she wanders alone. These sites present an opportunity for students to visit the locations that Helga explored in her travels to Denmark. By visiting these sites, students can explore the distinctive qualities in Danish design, food, architecture, and history. For Helga, her travels were meant to draw her closer to her mother and family, but the reality of her experience abroad merely emphasized her difference. To underscore the distinctive qualities of Danish cultural products, I propose encouraging students to have a unique experience in Copenhagen and to write a reflective essay where they evaluate how their specific subject position (race, sexuality, gender, nationality, etc.) frames their appreciation of the event. My goal is to emphasize that travel offers travelers an opportunity to get to know a place through the location’s cultural features. However, the traveler’s subject position often informs their experience. As students travel, they should be encouraged to

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

65

notice the distinctive and similar qualities of destinations, but they should also be encouraged to consider how their perspectives color their interactions with destinations. Below, I provide a sample activity: Participate in one of the following activities during your free day in Copenhagen: • Take a canal tour starting from Nyhavn • Stroll through the City Center and pick a café to have a local Danish pastry or meal • Visit the National Museum of Denmark and observe one of the permanent national exhibits • Visit one of the local palaces (Amalienborg or Christiansborg) and take a tour or watch the changing of the guards • Visit the Danish Design Museum and observe Denmark’s contribution to fashion

In your reflection, compose a 1000-word reflection that accomplishes the following tasks: • Identify the cultural site visited • Explain how you connected with the cultural site • Describe your experience paying special attention to your reactions to artwork, food, or other cultural sites • Evaluate how your experiences are connected to who you are as a person. In other words, consider how your identity framed your reactions to the cultural experience. Did you feel a connection based on past experiences at home or did the experience expose a feeling of alienation because you felt unrelated to the activity? • How did the experience impact your view on Helga’s travels throughout Copenhagen?

Students should be encouraged to apply their experiences to the novel. Helga’s experiences in Copenhagen are an extension for her journey to find home. She encounters issues in all of the locations she travels because she does not fit neatly into expectations of race, gender, or class. Instead of renegotiating social expectations, she seeks to change her location to find a better place to fit in, but this strategy does not work. Each new location exposes flaws and instead of fully rejecting norms and redefining her own expectations, she retreats. The activity is meant to force students to

66 

J. L. HAYES

grapple with feeling outside of their comfort zone. How do the spaces they normally occupy be them friend groups, work, or familial associations impact the way they navigate daily life? Hopefully, the exercise will help the students think critically about the social nature of their lives and consider the devastation Helga experiences because she is ultimately unable to establish a home base to rely on.

Conclusion Helga’s decision to return to Harlem emphasizes her failure to negotiate a space in Copenhagen to make a home. Jeffrey Gray clarifies Helga’s failure stating “if Helga’s travel is doomed to failure, it is not because she fails to ‘find herself,’ but because she is looking for herself, for her ‘essence’ … She comes…very close to such redefinition-by virtue of her dissatisfied, restless travel-but she is finally unable to achieve it” (Gray 260). Travel in Quicksand represents Helga’s attempt to negotiate the limitations she observes for herself. As a young educated Black woman, she understands that the possibilities for her life are limited by familial background and marriage. Her travel represents her rejection of these limited possibilities, yet her quest is unfulfilled and becomes cyclical as she returns to the United States after failing to marry in Copenhagen. Yet, Helga does marry when she returns to the United States, but she does not choose an affluent educated man that could provide her with the environment or the “things” she loves. Instead, she marries a poor southern preacher and subsequently has several children while never finding fulfillment. By retracing her steps in Harlem and her eventual return to the south, the reader sees the unhome in Quicksand. Helga’s journey from Naxos was an unsuccessful quest to find a place where she could be herself, but the social expectations she encounters for young Black women represent a barrier to living independently. Furthermore, Helga’s identity in Quicksand is not her own rather it is informed by her relationships with family and various social settings. Her sense of self is complicated by the lens by which her audience perceives her. As such, Helga remains unable to negotiate the tension between how people see her and how she sees herself which results in Helga becoming trapped in the inaccurate vision others have of her.

5  WHERE I CAN BE MYSELF: HELGA CRANE’S QUEST FOR HOME… 

67

Bibliography Anisimova, Irina. “Masks of authenticity: Failed Quests for the People in Quicksand by Nella Larsen and The Silver Dove by Andrei Belyi.” The Comparatist 32(2008): 175–192. Bhabha, Homi. “The World and the Home.” Social Text 31/32(1992):141–153. “Design Museum Denmark.” Design Museum Denmark. April 12, 2019. https:// designmuseum.dk/ Gray, Jeffrey. Essence and the Mulatto Traveler: Europe as Embodiment in Nella Larsen’s “Quicksand”. NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 27 no. 3 (1994):257–270. Hampton, Gregory J. “Beauty and the Exotic: Writing Black Bodies in Nella Larsen’s “Quicksand”.” CLA Journal 50 no. 2 (2006): 162–173. Hughes, Langston. “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature Vol. III, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr . and Valerie A. Smith. 1320–1324. New York: Norton, 2014. Larsen, Nella. Quicksand in The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen, edited by Charles R. Larson, 132–162. New York: Anchor, 1992. Lunde, Arne and Anna Westerstahl Stenport. “Helga Crane’s Copenhagen: Denmark, Colonialism, and Transnational Identity in Nella Larsen’s ‘Quicksand’.” Comparative Literature 60 no. 3 (2008): 228–243. Locke, Alain. “The New Negro.” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature Vol. III, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Valerie A.  Smith. 973–981. New York: Norton, 2014. “National Museum of Denmark.” National Museum of Denmark. April 7, 2019. https://en.natmus.dk/ “The Best of Copenhagen City Center.” Visit Copenhagen. April 7, 2019. https://www.visitcopenhagen.com/copenhagen/neighbourhoods/guides “The Palace.” Amalienborg Palace. April 8 2019. https://designmuseum.dk/ “Welcome to Christiansborg Palace”. Christiansborg Palace. April 7, 2019. https://kongeligeslotte.dk/en/palaces-and-gardens/christiansborgpalace.html

CHAPTER 6

Teaching Social Protest Literature with Richard Wright and James Baldwin in Paris

Abstract  In this chapter, I propose teaching Richard Wright’s and James Baldwin’s competing ideas concerning social protest as a thematic approach to a study abroad course in Paris. This chapter models how to scaffold writing assignments to encourage inquiry regarding the usage of social protest in Post-Renaissance literature. Finally, this chapter suggests cocurricular activities and events to pair with Wright’s and Baldwin’s literature in Paris. Keywords  Post war • Post Renaissance • World War II • Expatriate writers One approach to teaching African American literature is structuring the course through literary periods. When defining a literary period, students should consider the name of the period, dates of the era, cultural events, and key writers and texts. While some periods are clearly delineated other literary periods are less structured. One such period is the Post-Renaissance period which begins approximately around the beginning of World War II. Critics differ on names for this period calling it the Post-War Period, the Post-Renaissance, or even use a focus on the different movements associated with the period such as a focus on Urban Realism or Naturalism. Others have defined the period in term of a focus on one key writer: Richard Wright. In this regard, “The Age of Wright” encompasses a shift © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_6

69

70 

J. L. HAYES

away from the tone of the Harlem Renaissance. The literature of this period is far less positive in tone and displays a more intense focus on social problems through social protest. Social protest literature does not begin in World War II; rather, the period represents an extension of political literature from the beginning of the literary tradition. While Richard Wright is primarily known for his novel Native Son (1940) that chronicles the story of Bigger Thomas. Thomas is a young African American man living in poverty in Chicago’s South Side with limited economic and social opportunities; he seems imbedded in a social environment that dictates his failure before he truly had an opportunity to begin in life. The novel is didactic in nature and seeks to expose the impact of systemic racism on the lives of poor African Americans in urban centers. Wright’s approach does not represent all of the writers from this period. James Baldwin a major figure during this period, and a literary son of Wright, also incorporates a focus on social protest in his literature. Baldwin, like Wright, was a prolific writer publishing in multiple genres, yet his works especially his early essays began by directly responding to the works of Wright and offering critical readings of Wright’s approach. For Baldwin in his essay “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” the problem with Wright’s use of social protest through Bigger’s story is that the character “has accepted a theology that denies him life, that he admits the possibility of his being sub-human and feels constrained” (Baldwin 22–23). In challenging Wright, Baldwin asserts a different approach in addressing social problems by suggesting that Wright’s desire to explore social issues becomes all consuming and diminishes the opportunity for artistic nuance in the novel. Wright’s and Baldwin’s conflict presents a fruitful place for academic inquiry in a study abroad course. Both writers are influential writers from the Post-Renaissance period, while Baldwin responds to Wright as a means to make a space to enter into the critical discussion, they both extend the focus of social protest in African American literature in unique ways. Additionally, both traveled to Paris to escape racism. Their journeys abroad and their distinctive approaches to social protest create a meaningful strategy for teaching both writers in a study abroad context. One approach to teaching Wright and Baldwin in a study abroad class is through scaffolding major assignments. Paris offers students a dynamic location to consider the lived experiences of these two important expatriate writers. Because both writers were prolific, it is important to ground the learning experience with clear objectives to ensure students have an

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

71

opportunity to benefit from cocurricular activities the study abroad experience offers. As such, I propose teaching these two writers in an introductory literature class such as a sophomore literature class that focuses on developing skills connected to literary analysis and argumentation. This approach will benefit students in three key ways. First, the scaffolding approach will dedicate a semester to cultivating knowledge about a specific topic. Second, the varied yet connected writing assignments will equip students with transferrable skills including critical thinking, research methods, citation, and organizational strategies. Third, the experiential portion of the class will enrich students at the beginning of their educational journey by incorporating a high impact practice that will support their future academic and professional endeavors by exposing them to global education. While my teaching experience with study abroad has focused on upper level courses, I believe reaching students earlier in their academic journeys will be helpful to their development and matriculation. One reason I have targeted upper division students for study abroad courses is due to the fear of behavioral issues related to maturity. My hope, though not always accurate, was that upper division students’ experiences at the university better prepared them for the rigor of study abroad. In other words, upper division students would be better able to function as university ambassadors which would eliminate behavioral problems of less experienced students. However, I now believe by incorporating a mini session abroad experience into a traditional semester course, lower division students could be prepared for the experience abroad through weeks of on ground preparation. At the end of a 15-week course, students would be able to apply the lessons they learned on ground at their universities abroad by participating in a culturally enriching experience. The structure for the sophomore literature course will be divided into four units. Within each unit students will complete minor activities that help them develop the skills necessary to produce a major paper. In unit one, students will produce a profile essay of Baldwin or Wright paying particular attention to their experiences as expatriates. The goal of the unit is to introduce students to the writers and major texts while encouraging the students to question what circumstances led either writer to venture abroad. In the second unit, students will compose a rhetorical analysis of Wright’s essay “Blueprint for Negro Writing” or Baldwin’s essay “Everybody’s Protest Novel.” This project will encourage critical thinking and continue to develop their research skills. As the students explore the writers’ perspective stances on social protest and the African American

72 

J. L. HAYES

literature tradition more broadly, they will be encouraged to read texts as an art of larger movements instead of understanding works in isolation. Hopefully, they will glean the larger conversations the writers are participating in and will be prepared to demonstrate their own perspectives as the class continues. In unit three, students will compose a literary analysis. This unit represents an opportunity for synthesis. They will first read two short stories about lynching: Wright’s “Big Boy Leaves Home” and Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man.” While students will read both works, they will have to choose which work they want to analyze. Their goal is to consider the texts as representative works of social protest. They will evaluate either work through the critical lens of the writer’s respective critical essays on social protest “Blueprint for Negro Writing” or “Everybody’s Protest Novel.” Students will be encouraged to distill one key feature of social protest literature from the respective critical essays and analyze the larger work determining whether the writer fulfills their own critical expectations. This assignment will require students to utilize the skills they have developed throughout the semester to make a determination regarding a specific feature of the writers’ works. Finally, the last unit will take place abroad in Paris. Students will visit cultural sites frequented by both writers and write a reflection regarding the writers’ different approaches to social protest. By visiting the locales, the writers frequented, students will be encouraged to rethink the writers’ goals in their texts and consider how the Wright’s and Baldwin’s lived experiences shaped their body of work. Collectively, these units should prepare lower division students to fulfill the tasks of a study abroad course.

Unit One: The Profile Essay The first scaffolded assignment is the profile essay. I begin with this assignment because it allows students the ability to utilize skills they are already familiar with such as organization and summary before developing more complex skills such as synthesis and analysis. This assignment also works well as an introductory paper assignment to introduce students to the historical and cultural context the writers are working within. At this early point in the semester, there are several skills I want to reinforce with the students such as close reading and research methods. As a part of their research orientation, I help introduce students to databases that will provide them with meaningful reference sources for their

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

73

projects. Appropriate sources for analysis include: interviews, bibliographies, and biographical essays. Such texts provide an overview of the writer’s life and artistic productions. I recommend having students research the following databases because they traditionally yield fruitful searches: Oxford African American Studies Center, JSTOR, Project Muse, and the Literary Resource Center. One good place to start with teaching students research methods involves introducing them to Boolean terms within their keyword searches. Students are familial with searching typical search engines, such as Google or Bing, for information. However, they are frequently unfamiliar with defining their searches in academic databases to increase fruitful yields of worthwhile research. The Boolean terms (and, or, not) help students limit what the databases search for within their collections. This is also the time I emphasize the use of punctuation such as quotation marks, parentheses, and commas to help students direct the databases to search only the information they are interested in retrieving. Teaching research methods to lower division undergraduate students must cover the difference between academic source and popular sources as well. This distinction helps newer students learn the difference between appropriate and inappropriate sources for academic writing. Teaching research methods often comes to a standstill when students are released to conduct their own research. They often understand the topic, but fail to know where to start. To help alleviate this issue, instructors should begin with a research question that encourages students to consider what type of source materials would be most useful for their papers. I typically start with an in-class activity to help students generate categories of information to research. In this low stakes activity, students brainstorm different components of a social media profile page. They can pick any platform to work with from Facebook to Instagram, but the point of the exercise is for students to consider the kinds of background information individuals foreground when trying to create a dominant impression of their life. Students consistently create categories such as personal life, professional information, hobbies, and associations. From there, I ask students to envision making a Facebook profile page for their writer. Then, students must articulate how to describe the writer to an audience who does not know the writer. This activity eases students into the research process by showing them that they are already familiar with the structure of a profile.

74 

J. L. HAYES

The next step is to provide students with key question to consider after they apply their search terms to the authors. Below, I provide a list of questions organized in an outline format to help students understand how to structure their profile essays. Introduction Focus→Provide an overview of their life. What is the dominant impression of the writer? • What is the writer’s full name? • What are the dates associated with their birth and death? • Which key details describe their familial background? • Describe their education. • Where did their love for writing originate? • To help develop a thesis statement, remember you should articulate their significance. In other words, how are they remembered? Body Focus→Consider their body of work and accomplishments. Document their time spent abroad. • Provide an overview of the writer’s body of work. Emphasize which pieces of literature were the most successful? • Which themes or genres did the writer explore within his literature? • When and where did the writer move abroad? • What factors contributed to his decision to move? • How did his time abroad shape his writing? • How long did the writer stay abroad? Why? Conclusion Focus→Explain the writer’s significance to African American literature. • Which awards or distinctions are associated with the writer? • Describe the writer’s legacy. In other words, why is the writer remembered? Finally, I like to use models to help students anticipate how they should organize their texts to ensure that their profiles do not read like a list of facts about the writer. In addition to the articles students find during their research, visual and audio models help students understand how to craft their profiles. In class, I often show brief biograph videos from YouTube or require students to listen or view interviews with or about the author.

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

75

These models provide students with various options to consider as they begin the drafting phase. Below, I am including links to sample biography videos and interviews for student use. These links are typically accompanied with a brief writing activity to help students dissect the form of the video or audio texts. Activity Directions Decide which writer you would like to investigate. Then listen or view the links provided for the writer. After each viewing, list five descriptive terms or phrases that describe your dominant impression of the writer. In your profile essay, focus on these terms to ensure you are effectively describing the essence of the writer. Richard Wright • “Richard Wright Lecture by Margaret Walker Alexander – 30 July, 1971” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pjXTjxMIyM • “The Life and Times of Richard Wright” https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=uEM933JHXUc&t=124s James Baldwin • “James Baldwin Speech” https://www.c-span.org/video/?170651-1/ james-baldwin-speech • “James Baldwin – Writer|Mini Bio|BIO” https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=NvJiyBE_wo0&t=76s

Unit Two: Rhetorical Analysis In this unit, students will begin to put the writers into conversation by considering their different ideas about social protest and African American literature. At this point in the semester, students have been introduced to both writers and have a cursory understanding of the conflict between both. In this essay, students will deconstruct one of the following essays: “Blueprint for Negro Writing” or “Everybody’s Protest Novel.” To help prepare students for this writing assessment, students will be taught about argumentation throughout mini lessons on the rhetorical situation, rhetorical appeals, and rhetorical strategies. While I expect students have completed prerequisites in composition before enrolling in a sophomore literature course, many of them need a refresher. Therefore, I supplement

76 

J. L. HAYES

the literature in the course with online links to The Norton Reader online Writing Toolbar. I encourage students to visit the following pages to ensure they have the proper foundation for academic writing: Before You Begin to Write and Rhetorical Strategies. In the mini lessons, I introduce students to language of argumentation and encourage them to read the essays with these ideas in mind. What follows is an outline of key ideas students should be introduced to before critically analyzing Wright’s and Baldwin’s essays. Mini Lesson Outline Rhetoric→The art of persuasive communication. What choices do writers make to convince their audience of their perspective regarding a particular topic? The Rhetorical Situation→Understanding a Text’s Context • Purpose→What is the writer’s goal? Sometimes a writer can have more than one agenda. How does the writer’s agenda impact the work? • Audience→Does the writer have an intentional audience? Is there anyone the writer leaves out of the conversation? If so, why? • Genre→Genre means type or kind. How does the essay genre inform the stylistic choices the writer is making in their essay? • Organization→Identify organizational patterns the writer uses within their writing. • Stance→What is the main topic of the essay? Determine the writer’s perspective about this topic. Rhetorical Appeals→How Writers Argue • Logos→What key reasoning does the writer use in the text? • Ethos→How does the writer establish their credibility in the text? • Pathos→Where do we see the writer consider the subject position of the audience in terms of their beliefs? • Context→ What background information or surrounding issues impact the dynamics within the text?

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

77

Rhetorical Strategies→ How Writer’s Persuade • Narration→Identify any story the writer uses to make a point. • Process writing→Which steps do the writer take to persuade? Consider the connection between the introduction and conclusion by analyzing the transitions the writer makes between their major points. • Defining→Which terms are defined? Do these definitions fulfill traditional denotations of the work? If not, how does the writer redefine concepts for their argument? • Comparing and contrasting→ Which ideas do the writers juxtapose to prove their points? Are their juxtapositions effective? Once students are introduced to rhetorical terms, they should be in a better position to deconstruct the essays. One strategy for preparing students for writing about the rhetorical context of the essays is through an examination of literary periods. Situating the essays in the literary periods the texts were written in and follow will help the students better understand the historical and cultural context the literature is addressing. One helpful online tool that offers a cursory understanding of the African American literary tradition is the entry for African American literature on Encyclopedia Britannica. The entry organizes literary periods within the African American literary tradition in a concise way while providing readers with a historical overview for each period. In class, group discussions and presentations can accompany this activity to allow students an opportunity to work together to unpack the complex periods within the canonical tradition. While in class, students will be divided into groups to complete the group work activity and work together to compose and present brief presentations on their findings. These presentations will benefit the class, by helping establish community among the students that will be helpful for their time abroad and by flipping the classroom thereby empowering the students to direct the lessons. Following the presentations, students will be given a reading question homework activity that will help guide their reading. Critical essays are often dense texts that students are unfamiliar with reading, accordingly including reading questions to help them analyze the texts will support their analysis. Below, I am including the presentation activity and the critical reading activities for Wright and Baldwin’s essays.

78 

J. L. HAYES

Literary Period Activity In groups of 2–3, students will read the Harlem Renaissance and the Advent of Urban Realism entries from the following links. Each group has been assigned a topic from the chart below. After you read the sections, brainstorm answers to the questions connected to your group. Then, compose a 6–8 sentence paragraph that fully explains your topic to the class. You may use this paragraph during your presentation. Be sure to divide the topics evenly among the group, so that everyone participates. Periods Harlem Harlem Harlem Urban realism Urban realism Urban realism

Groups Topic 1 2 3 4 5 6

“The Rise of the New Negro” “The Harlem Renaissance” “Novelists” and “Playwright and Editors” “The Advent of Urban Realism” “Chicago Writers” “The 1940s” “Richard Wright” “James Baldwin”

Richard Wright Reading Questions This activity will help you organize your notes regarding Wright’s work. In this assignment, you will use your textbook to answer the following questions. You can use the answers you write here when brainstorming for your rhetorical analysis. “Blueprint for Negro Writing” 1. The role of Negro writing: Two definitions • Identify at least one criticism of past African American writing that Wright makes. 2. The Minority outlook • Define the term assimilation. Wright doesn’t use this specific word in this section, but he alludes to it. Describe how past African American writers have mimicked White standards in their writing.

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

79

3. Culture • Wright says that Black people should write about their own culture. Identify the two sources of culture that Black people have. 4. Social consciousness and responsibility • Read the first four paragraphs of this section. According to Wright, what are Black writers “called upon to do”? How can they achieve this goal? 5. Perspective • According to Wright, what is perspective? What perspective should Black writers be writing from? James Baldwin Reading Questions This activity will help you organize your notes regarding Baldwin’s work. In this assignment, you will use your textbook to answer the following questions. You can use the answers you write here when brainstorming for your rhetorical analysis. “Everybody’s Protest Novel” • Baldwin begins his essay by analyzing an exchange in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. For Baldwin, who does Miss Ophelia represent? From his perspective what was the purpose of the novel? • On page 14, Baldwin claims “Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very bad novel,” identify key quotes that explain his interpretation of the novel. • Baldwin compares and contrasts the role of a “pamphleteer” and a “novelist” on pages 14–15. Describe the different roles and explain why Baldwin believes Stowe belongs in the pamphleteer category. • Baldwin further critiques the flaws of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by emphasizing racist and colorist tropes he perceives within the work. First, define racism and colorism in your own words. Second, identify examples of both terms within Baldwin’s analysis of Stowe’s novel. • On page 18, Baldwin clarifies “the avowed aim” or goal of the protest novel. Identify it. Then explain why many works of social protest fall short of this goal from Baldwin’s perspective.

80 

J. L. HAYES

• Describe the relationship Baldwin perceives between the oppressor and the oppressed within American social protest literature (Baldwin 20–21). Highlight Baldwin’s Criticisms of Native Son • What connections does Baldwin draw between Stowe and Wright? • From Baldwin’s perspective, how does the social protest novel dehumanize its subject matter? Students will not have to compose a rhetorical analysis of both essays, but they should read both essays and complete the reading questions for both. Once completed, students will be assigned a writer to rhetorically analyze. The students that analyze Wright’s essay should be instructed to consider Wright’s essay as a response to the Harlem Renaissance writers; while students analyzing Baldwin’s essay should be encouraged to emphasize Baldwin’s response to Wright. The preparatory activities should equip students with an understanding of the historical and literary context the writers were interacting with and elicit more nuanced responses.

Unit Three: Literary Analysis Now that students have familiarized themselves with both writers’ theories about literature, they are ready to read representative creative works and present their own argumentative interpretations. There are multiple longer texts that students could read, such as Wright’s Native Son (1940) or Baldwin’s Blues for Mr. Charlie (1964). However, I propose using short stories so students can complete their arguments with a manageable reading load for analysis. Two short stories that analyze the social issue of lynching would offer students an opportunity to compare and contrast the writers’ different approaches to the theme. These stories are “Big Boy Leaves Home” from Wright’s short story collection aptly titled Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) and Baldwin’s story “Going to Meet the Man” from his similarly titled collection of short stories (1965). Starting this unit, students will read two essays that focus on social protest: W.E.B.  Du Bois’ “Criteria for Negro Art” and Ann Petry’s “The Novel as Social Criticism.” Both texts emphasize key components of the form while connecting political agendas to larger goals in literature. Below, I provide reading questions to help students comprehend complex topics within both texts.

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

81

W.E B. Du Bois “Criteria for Negro Art” Activity Directions: The following questions are a part of your homework. Complete the questions as you read and submit your responses to Elearn for evaluation. • Du Bois begins by framing his discussion of art and politics. For Du Bois, how does art further political agendas? • Du Bois asks an interesting question to the crowd. –– “IF you tonight suddenly should become full-fledged Americans; if your color faded, or the color line here in Chicago was miraculously forgotten…What is it that you would want?” –– What does he think free people want? • Du Bois gives examples of his travel experience. This time abroad has enlightened him. He claims to have seen the Venus de Milo. What is the significance of travel? How does it impact the artist or the viewer? • Explain the meaning of the following quotes: –– “That somehow, somewhere eternal the Beauty sits above Truth and Right I can conceive, but here and now in the world in which I work they are for me unseparated and inseparable.” –– “Suppose the only Negro who survived some centuries hence was the Negro painted by white Americans in the novels and essays they have written. What would people in a hundred years say of black Americans?” –– “Thus all Art is propaganda and ever must be, despite the wailing of the purists. I stand in utter shamelessness and say that whatever art I have for writing has been used always for propaganda for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy.” • After reading Du Bois, summarize why he thinks Black artists should use their art to argue for the humanity of Black people?

82 

J. L. HAYES

Ann Petry “The Novel as Social Criticism” Activity Directions: The following questions are a part of your homework. Complete the questions as you read and submit your responses to Elearn for evaluation. • According to Petry, what do book reviewers think about the theme of social criticism in creative works? • Why does she think authors keep writing texts that reflect critiques of society? • According to Petry, what is the purpose of most stories? • Did this purpose start in the twentieth century? Where can readers find evidence of stories with a social function in other more historical representations of literature? • “Am I my brother’s keeper?” When the writer asks this question by writing a book that criticizes patterns in contemporary society, how are they answering this age-old question? • Although we have evidence in literature all the way back to ancient times of social criticism in stories, modern critics think books should have a different purpose. • Consider contrasting perspectives. What issues do both perspectives have with social protest literature? –– Art for art’s sake. (Eurocentric Ideals) According to the people that write texts or review them from this perspective, what is the problem with writer’s consciously writing socially critical texts? –– Art for people’s sake. (Afrocentric Ideals) Read this brief manifesto entitled “The Black Arts Movement” by Larry Neal. From his perspective, how can Black writers use their literature to uplift Black people. Why does he “eschew the idea of social protest?” • Her thesis→The novel, like all other forms of art, will always reflect the political, economic, and social structure of the period. –– Write a paragraph responding to her thesis. –– Identify a piece of contemporary art from a cartoon to a song and explain how it fulfills her ideas about reflecting the time.

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

83

After completing this homework activity, students should read both short stories accompanied by chapter one from Ida B Wells’ pamphlet The Red Record (1895) entitled “The Case Stated.” This chapter explains the “reasons” lynch mobs used to justify lynching of Black men and women. Reading this essay and evaluating the short stories will help students understand the social problems within the historical context of this literary period descend from the time of Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction era. As students read, Wright’s and Baldwin’s short stories they will notice similar justifications used to rationalize the lynching of Black men. By providing the students with a clear social issue in both stories and a historical account explaining the phenomena, students should be better able to distinguish the different approaches the respective writers use to artistically critique the issue. In many ways, this assignment posits a new historicist perspective that encourages students to consider texts as cultural representatives of literary periods. Distinctions students observe in the writers’ works signal growth within the period and provide them with examples of how working within similar contexts, depending on their own subject positions, writers approach themes differently.

Unit Four: Reflections Abroad Assigning assessments abroad requires forethought. Instructors need to ensure students have an opportunity to engage with cocurricular activities and compose meaningful responses to their experiences abroad. Likewise, faculty must build into their schedules the time to evaluate assessments and return feedback to students in a timely manner. Before, you decide on the types of assessments, you must determine the manner of delivery for assignments and returning evaluations. Questions to consider as you develop your structure for overseas instruction include: • How will students turn in assignments? • If you use online platforms, will students have access to wifi abroad? • What happens if students experience technological difficulties abroad? • What plans are in place to trouble shoot those issues? • How do you maintain consistency in the learning experience when students are introduced to a new environment with unfamiliar customs?

84 

J. L. HAYES

It would be nice to have answers to all of these questions, but that might not be realistic. Instead, instructors should focus on having contingency plans if the initial plan falls through. To that end, guided reflections connected to specific activities abroad will require students to engage with events in a critical way. Faculty should be involved in the planning of these cocurricular activities to ensure that the event corresponds to the learning objectives of the course. Their involvement will allow them to tailor an itinerary that connects to previous assignments and lessons learned throughout the semester. The reality is that there are options for creating study abroad experiences. Some of these options rely on outside study abroad companies to coordinate cocurricular events and experiences with the input of faculty and administrators. These companies are not academic institutions, and their skill sets really lie in their ability to organize the transportation and coordinate entrance to cultural sites abroad. However, these companies are businesses that rely on their own connections to create plans for any given experience abroad. As such, they often have packages that include noncustomary items that have little to do with your class objectives. If you end up working with one of these companies, it will be your responsibility to advocate for yourself as much as possible because the bottom line is that you are in charge of the class and you are responsible for ensuring the academic rigor of the program. Failing to engage in the crafting of the itinerary can result in an experience that is much like a vacation for students where students visit cultural sites or just party while not connecting the travel component of the course or the lessons imbedded throughout the semester. To alleviate this issue, I recommend providing the students with a reading assignment during the experience and drafting reflective questions that they must respond to for each cocurricular event they attend. Students should have the questions and reading activity before they depart their home country. This way they are aware of the academic expectations of their trip abroad. These questions should connect with your itinerary and help them formulate answers that correspond to the academic objectives of the course. Below, I provide a sample class itinerary including travel days, cocurricular event schedule, and due dates for assignments. This model was created through extensive research, and I am providing a selected bibliography of works that helped me draft this itinerary. Some of these texts could be used as recommended reading for the students before the experience or during the experience abroad.

Monday

Arrival day Activities activities  Meeting Time  Arrival 10:30 am dinner at 6  Café visits pm including Café  Settle in to de Flore and Les lodging Deux Magots Homework  For dinner, eat at a neighborhood café.  Upload reflection activity by 11:59 pm Activities Departure day  Departure activities dinner at 6  Breakfast pm between 7–9   Meeting time for pick-up 9:30 am

Sunday Activities  Meeting Time 10:00 am  Visit Wright Cultural Sites Pere Lachaise Cemetery and Wright’s Plaque 14 rue Monsieur-­le-­ Prince, Paris 6 Homework  Upload reflection activity by 11:59 pm

Tuesday

Thursday

activity by 11:59 pm

Activities Activities  Meeting Time  Meeting Time 10:00 am 10:00am  Walking Tour of  Walking Tour of the Latin Quarter Monmartre Homework  Upload reflection activity Homework by 11:59 pm  Upload reflection

Wednesday

Homework  Upload reflection activity by 11:59 pm

Activities  Meeting time 8:00am  Guided tour of the Louvre

Friday No planned activities

Saturday 6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

85

86 

J. L. HAYES

Sample Paris Wright and Baldwin Itinerary Before departure students should read and bring a print copy of the following article from JSTOR: Maurice Charney’s article “James Baldwin’s Quarrel with Wright” published in American Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring, 1963), pp. 65–75

Sources consulted for the creation of the itinerary Context About African American Writers in Paris • Michel Fabre: From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840-1980 (1983) • William A Shack: Harlem in Montmartre (2001) • Tyler Stovall: Paris Noir: African Americans in the City of Light (2012) Biographies About Wright • Michel Fabre: The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (1973) • Addison Gayle: Ordeal of a Native Son (1980) • Margaret Walker: Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man a Critical Look at His Work (1988) Biographies About Baldwin • David Leeming: James Baldwin A Biography (1994) • Bill V. Mullen: James Baldwin Living in Fire (2019) Literature by or About Wright • Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) • White Man Listen (1957) • Eight Men (1961) • Conversations with Richard Wright (1993) Literature by or About Baldwin • Notes of a Native Son (1955) • The Fire Next Time (1962) • Going to Meet the Man (1965) • Ed. James R. Standley: Conversations with James Baldwin (1989)

6  TEACHING SOCIAL PROTEST LITERATURE WITH RICHARD WRIGHT… 

87

Links from Website Periodicals • h t t p s : / / w w w . t h e n a t i o n . c o m / a r t i c l e / a r c h i v e / black-american-paris/ • https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/baldwin-france • https://www.wnyc.org/story/192767-richard-wright/ • h t t p s : / / w w w . e n t r e e t o b l a c k p a r i s . c o m / black-history-in-and-around-the-luxembourg-garden • https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/african-american-artists-writers-paris/index.html • https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/travel/james-baldwinsparis.html The sample itinerary and list of sources consulted provide the reader with a glimpse of the kind of sources that helps generate ideas for cocurricular events and activities. While not exhaustive, I hope this list serves as a model for future instructors who consider teaching Baldwin and Wright in Paris. Ultimately, the study abroad portion of the course should be structured as an enriching experience that complements the traditional on ground learning environment. By finishing the course with reflective exercises students are encouraged to consider the readings and skills developed throughout the semester and apply them in inventive ways to their cultural experiences abroad.

Bibliography Alexander, Margaret Walker. “Richard Wright Lecture by Margaret Walker Alexander  – 30 July, 1971,” YouTube, August 9, 2016, video, 1:44:06, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pjXTjxMIyM&t=1117s. Andrews, William L. “African American Literature,” Encyclopedia Britannica Last Modified July 14, 2016. https://www.britannica.com/art/ African-American-literature Baldwin, James. “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” in Notes of a Native Son (Boston: Beacon, 1955), 13–23. Baldwin, James. “Going to Meet the Man,” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature Third Ed. Vol. II, eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Valerie A. Smith. (New York: Norton, 2014), 453–465. Baldwin, James. “James Baldwin Speech,” CSPAN, video, 27:11, https://www. cspan.org/video/?170651-1/james-baldwin-speech

88 

J. L. HAYES

“Before you Begin to Write.” The Norton Reader Toolbar. Accessed by March 4, 2020. https://wwnorton.com/college/english/write/read12/toolbar/ set02.aspx. Biography. “James Baldwin – Writer | Mini Bio | BIO,” YouTube, Oct 18, 2012, video, 3:59, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvJiyBE_wo0&t=76s. Du Bois, W.E.B. “Criteria of Negro Art,” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature Third Ed. Vol. I, eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Valerie A. Smith. (New York: Norton, 2014), 771–778. Neal, Larry. “The Black Arts Movement,” Drama Review (1968) http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/pds/maai3/community/text8/blackar tsmovement.pdf Petry, Ann. “The Novel as Social Criticism,” in Call and Response The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition, ed. Patricia Liggins Hill. (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), 1114–1119. “Rhetorical Strategies.” The Norton Reader Toolbar. Accessed by March 4, 2020. https://wwnorton.com/college/english/write/read12/toolbar/set02.aspx . “The Life and Times of Richard Wright,” YouTube, The Blackest Panther, video, 9:19, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEM933JHXUc&t=217s Wells, Ida B. “The Case Stated,” The Red Record. (1895) Project Gutenberg, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14977/14977-h/14977-h.htm Wright, Richard. “Big Boy Leaves Home,” in Uncle Tom’s Children (New York: Harper Perennial, 1940), 16–61. Wright, Richard. “Blueprint for Negro Writing,” in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature Third Ed. Vol. II, eds. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Valerie A. Smith. (New York: Norton, 2014), 125–132.

CHAPTER 7

When the Lesson Plan Fails: Reflecting on Teaching Lynn Nottage’s Play Las Meninas in Paris

Abstract  This chapter chronicles my experience developing lesson plans and assessments for a study abroad course teaching Lynn Nottage’s play Las Meninas in Paris. Overall, this chapter explores various obstacles to a successful study abroad course including student behavioral issues, problems working with study abroad companies, and unexpected challenges that arise while away such as terrorist activity or natural disasters. This chapter ends with a proposal for inquiry-based instruction in study abroad courses versus site seeing expeditions. Keywords  Versailles • The Black Nun of Moret • St. Genevieve Library • France • African Diaspora In the summer of 2017, I cotaught a study abroad course entitled “Intersecting Lives: Reading African-American Literature Through a Black Feminist Lens.” This course was the result of months of preparation after successfully winning a 20,000-dollar grant to support study abroad initiatives at minority serving institutions. My colleague and I chose Paris as our destination for three key reasons. First, the study abroad company sponsoring the grant maintains an office in Paris and offered to help negotiate the logistics of the trip. Second, we knew that many writers from the African American literary tradition visited Paris as expatriates. From Langston Hughes to Richard Wright, these writers traveled to Paris in an © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_7

89

90 

J. L. HAYES

attempt to escape racial injustice in the United States. Many of these writers composed texts about institutional racism and the legacy of trauma Africa Americans dealt with as a result. Therefore, travel was used as a political tool for resistance and the distance they enjoyed abroad offered them the space to articulate the problems apparent back home. We hoped that teaching the literature in France would help our students negotiate the complex political contexts of the literature and promote their individual success by exposing them to a uniquely positioned cultural center. We prepared diligently for this course, yet unexpected occurrences impacted the ultimate success of the experience. In this chapter, I will explore how I developed the lesson plan for teaching Lynn Nottage’s play Las Meninas (2002). This work represented the centerpiece of our time abroad since two cocurricular activities were planned to support the play: a visit to Versailles and a visit to Sainte-Geneviève Library. Although, I planned the lesson plan, activities, and assessments corresponding to the work, I could not foresee the manifold issues we encountered. My goal is to share my experiences associated with this course including the problems I faced to help prepare future instructors to make their teaching experiences abroad fruitful opportunities for inquiry.

The Plan: Connecting the Expatriates to Lynn Nottage Most of the literature we included in the course was connected to expatriate writers from the Post-Renaissance including Richard Wright and James Baldwin. Additionally, we included one writer, Victor Sejour, from the antebellum period. His story “The Mulatto” (1837) represents the first known short story published by an African American. The twentieth century writers viewed Paris as an escape from the harsh realities of the United States. Of course, Baldwin was able to unpack his idealistic view of Europe in his later years, but he still viewed the country as a positive counterpoint to the United States. Unlike later expatriates, Sejour’s background connected him to France. “At nineteen, Séjour became an expatriate by choice, moving to Paris to continue his education and find work, and eventually joining forces with Cyrille Bisette, publisher of La Revue (a black journal), and other members of the Parisian literary elite who helped him to start a formal writing career. In Paris, Séjour, a colonial mulatto, found a more open-minded milieu with less racial prejudice where he

7  WHEN THE LESSON PLAN FAILS: REFLECTING ON TEACHING LYNN… 

91

could exercise liberties not allowed in antebellum New Orleans” (par 4 Piacentino). Though different catalysis drove the writers abroad, all three published about racism in their homelands during their time in France. France, as does the rest of Western Europe, enjoys a romanticized image, but I wanted to challenge that. Therefore, I chose Las Meninas because it exposes issues of colonialism and slavery within the play. Additionally, I wanted to choose a work that would be fruitful for my research and my colleague’s research. My colleague, Dr. Rebecca S. Dixon, a full professor, was pursuing another graduate degree in Early Modern History and was composing a project dedicated to the court life King Louis XIV. My research area is contemporary African American drama, so the play met both of our research agendas. Las Meninas explores the life of Louise Marie-Therese also known as The Black Nun of Moret. A picture purported to document her is exhibited in the Sainte-Geneviève Library. In the play, Louise narrates her origins on the days before she commits herself to God and becomes a nun. From her perspective, the audience witnesses a clandestine affair between her rumored mother and father, Queen Marie Therese and her African dwarf slave Nabo. Not much is known about the origins or the life of The Black Nun of Moret, but Nottage includes an excerpt from the Memoirs of Madame la Marquis de Montespan, a supposed mistress of King Louis XIV. The excerpt explains: My readers remember the little negress who was born to the Queen in the early days - she whom no one wanted, who was dismissed, relegated, disinherited, unacknowledged, deprived of her rank and name the very day of birth …Marie-Therese, the pious and devoted Queen of the notoriously philandering Louis XIV, gave birth to a baby daughter…the child was said to have been born “black as ink from head to toe”…It was rumored at Court that the child was fathered by an African dwarf named Nabo, a young man from Dahomey presented to the Queen by relatives in Spain. (247–248)

I included this play that discusses Louise Marie-Therese’s mysterious background to encourage students to consider what we understand about history and how literature can open up conversations regarding our pasts and how the past is connected to the present moment. Baldwin and Wright experienced a level of freedom in Paris; however, their experience contrasts with Louise Marie-Therese and demonstrates France’s connection to the subjugation of Black people historically. France in 1950 was very different

92 

J. L. HAYES

than the France of 1664. In order to understand the complexity of any given place, its history must be taken into account. Suzan-Lori Parks argues that: The history of literature is in question. And the history of History is in question too. A play is a blueprint of an event: a way of creating and rewriting history through the medium of literature. Since history is a recorded or remembered event, theatre, for me, is the perfect place to “make” history— that is, because so much of African-American history has been unrecorded, dismembered, washed out, one of my tasks as a playwright is to-through literature and the special strange relationship between theatre and real-life— locate the ancestral burial ground, dig for bones, find bones, hear the bones sing, write it down. (Parks 4)

In teaching Nottage’s work, I thought of applying Parks’ idea along with the ideas of countless other Black feminist writers who did the important work of reclaiming lost Black figures from history. One goal in teaching this play alongside Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son (1955) and Wright’s White Man Listen (1957) was to encourage students to conflate the timeline and consider how France of a not so distant past claims a space for “liberté, égalité, fraternité” in the 1950s for Black male writers but denies these foundational values to a native daughter in 1694. The tension between the texts was meant to force students to consider the intersection between race, class, and gender and to consider how our contemporary understanding of Paris is wholly connected to its purposeful erasure of Louise Marie-Therese’s narrative. Before departing for Paris, the students attended four predeparture sessions to explain the expectations and rigors of the course. When the summer session began, we introduced students to the history of Black feminist criticism and the expatriate tradition. Our expectations for the course was to read Las Meninas abroad, visit cocurricular sites, and to have students complete reflective activities connected to their experiences in Paris. On the surface, the plan was well thought out and researched. However, we encountered several obstacles in the flow of the course after we departed. These obstacles undermined the learning objectives but taught us new lessons about teaching study abroad and upon further reflection confirmed some initial hypotheses regarding history and how monuments of history privilege certain perspectives of the past while erasing others.

7  WHEN THE LESSON PLAN FAILS: REFLECTING ON TEACHING LYNN… 

93

Things Fall Apart: Obstacles Teaching Abroad I always have a backup plan when I’m teaching, but there are some things you just cannot anticipate. Case in point, France was experiencing an epic heat wave during our visit. With daily temperatures reaching higher than 100 degrees the environment was sweltering. The city was under a drought warning since it had gone several days without rain. The heat coupled with the dry conditions created the perfect storm. Many of our activities were walking tours, which required us to walk miles across different arrondissements. Try having a discussion outside of the Louvre with ten students after having walked through much of the morning. They were tired, and so were we. The dry conditions stirred up dust which caused an allergy attack from my colleague, and I developed a full body heat rash. Despite several applications of sunblock and drinking bottled water, the conditions were too much for us. We ended up visiting a pharmacy and using Google Translate to describe our conditions and hoping the pharmacist could give us some type of relief. I’m from the south and used to hot and humid conditions, but walking through the streets of Paris during that heat wave was beyond anything I was accustomed to. Additionally, certain comforts I am accustomed to were not always available in France. For example, many restaurants do not always provide ice in your beverages and our hotel did not have air conditioning. Instead, they provided fans. We were told by the front desk clerk that the heat wave was very unusual. Moreover, while the heat created physical problems for the instructors, it made the students irritable and distracted. We often had to curtail our short discussions outside in search of shade or refreshment to keep the students under control. Despite the hot days of summer in Paris, we pressed on. Yet, there were other difficulties. There were three destructive events while we were abroad. Luckily, we had discussed a plan of action for such an event. Initially, we heard news of a major fire in West London that destroyed an apartment building called the Grenfell Tower (“How the tragedy unfolded at Grenfell Tower”). At the time, news about the event dominated newspapers, social media, and the television, but few facts were available. We were not sure if the fire was the result of a terrorist attack or faulty wiring. The result of the incident was to put the faculty on high alert in case such an event would occur in Paris. The second event was a terrorist attack that occurred on June 19th when a driver plowed his car into police vehicles on the Champs Elysees (Nancy Ing and Corky Siemaszko). This of course was

94 

J. L. HAYES

very concerning for us because our students had some time to spend on their own that day, and we were not sure if they were on the crowded touristy street. We had prepared the students for such an event by making sure everyone had access to WhatsApp. We informed them immediately of the event when we received notifications on our phone, but everyone did not communicate back with us that they were alright. The next day we had to emphasize to them that even when they were not attending a cocurricular activity, they were ambassadors of the university and must communicate with faculty when called upon. A few days later, we heard of a failed attack in Belgium. On June 21st in Brussels, a terrorist attempted to blow up a suitcase at a train station. This time when we used WhatsApp to communicate with the students, they all responded back in a timely fashion. The tensions we experienced with the political climate while abroad we tried to prepare for. However, living in the United States, one can feel sometimes removed from news events impacting Europe and the world, but when we were there, we felt connected to the issues and it bred a feeling of anxiety. This contrasted greatly with our readings from Wright and Baldwin that painted Paris as an escape from the violence and danger in the United States. It seemed in our experience that the world was a far less safe space than it had been in decades prior. I did not anticipate the anxiety I would feel teaching a study abroad class. I am a world traveler and often solo traveled to various locations. I know how to navigate tense environments and make it back home safely, but the feeling of responsibility for ten students felt overwhelming at times. I did not consider the fact that I would be on duty nearly 24 hours as the students would call upon me if they encountered trouble after our sessions. I’m used to receiving emails late at night regarding students’ questions regarding an upcoming paper, but I did not realize that I was giving up a bit of my autonomy to my own time and space by functioning as their chaperone. After sessions were over, my expectation was to shop, eat, enjoy Paris, or grade. However, students constantly texted via WhatsApp asking questions about the city or about other issues they ran into. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t necessarily have down time. Many of the students during this class behaved very well and fulfilled all of the decorum expectations we established on ground in Tennessee. However, some challenged our policies as well as university policies and we had to address their behavior as it became a distraction from the learning experience for the entire class. Initially, we had two different students exhibit what I’ll call risky behavior. One student brought a local back to

7  WHEN THE LESSON PLAN FAILS: REFLECTING ON TEACHING LYNN… 

95

their room. This room they happened to share with a fellow classmate. We were informed by the roommate the next day that they felt uncomfortable but did not want to cause tension. Of course, we took this allegation very seriously and sought to address it in private after the day’s experiences. However, once accused the student became irate, defensive, and threatening. The student acknowledged that they had brought someone back to the room, but argued that they were an adult and could do whatever they wanted. We brought up the decorum contract they signed and the student continued to respond defiantly. At that point, we were worried about the dynamic between the students. It was our job to ensure their safety, and one student was behaving as if they were on vacation and did not have to follow our guidelines. Upon speaking with administration at our university, the decision was made that the student would be sent home. However, the logistics were not organized well. As a result, in the meantime, we had to book an additional room for the student to separate them. It took two days to work out the logistics of their return trip. During that time, the student acted out loudly challenging our discussion points in our study session and often showed up late to meeting times. It was as if they had decided they were in charge and were establishing an adversarial relationship between the professors as representatives of the university and the students. Oddly, this behavior impacted some of the students who had up until that point behaved well. Once the student was eventually sent home, things quieted down, but the atmosphere of the class was forever changed for the worse. In response to this incident, we established a curfew and room check to ensure that students were in their rooms at 10 pm at night. I hated it. I did not want to be in their personal spaces. One reason I wanted to teach higher education was because I wanted to interact with adults. Yet, I found that we needed to establish stricter behavioral safe guards because the students were putting themselves in jeopardy. One unique aspect of Paris that I did not know until I arrived is that it shuts down. Many major cities in the United States are always open or there are portions of the city you can visit at 3 am and have a meal or see a show. This was not the case in Paris. Around 10 pm the city felt like a ghost town, and on Sundays it was shut down as well except in the touristy areas. I thought 10 pm was a fair curfew since nothing would be open anyway. Nevertheless, one student challenged the curfew the second day after it was implemented. Again, we attempted to privately discuss this breech in protocol with the student after a lecture. This student reacted differently. They claimed confusion

96 

J. L. HAYES

saying they didn’t realize the curfew applied to them and immediately burst into tears. This response was confusing. I was infuriated that the student thought they were entitled to go where they wanted after we had a group discussion regarding behavior and expectations. I was also furious because I was exhausted. Having to conduct the room checks every night at 10 left me feeling irritable after a day of walking through the scalding streets of Paris. I thought of the months of preparation this course had cost me. Grant writing, negotiating logistics with a study abroad company and the administration, and the research and lesson planning required to pull the course off. It never occurred to me that students would treat the course as an extension of their spring break or fall break. I thought that because I took it seriously and it was connected to my research, they would take it seriously too. I was not sad that they did not. I was furious and ready to go home. However, I had the play to look forward too and the visits to St Genevieve and Versailles to lift my spirits. These visits proved to be more of the same. Our liaison with the study abroad company handed us over to a high school intern. They were to function as our guide to these two pivotal cocurricular activities. Our trip to St. Genevieve ended in despair after our guide translated to us that we needed reservations to enter the library and that no one had called ahead to secure them. I could have screamed. Instead of the students seeing the portrait of The Black Nun of Moret, they sat on the steps of The Pantheon and listened to me describe the picture and her importance to the play. They were dismissed after that. I didn’t know what else to do. We had assigned a few hours to explore the library and to see the painting. The company did not apologize or attempt to remedy the situation. However, I was determined to see it, so I thought I would make my own reservation and see it later in the day. When I arrived at our hotel, I was informed that our internet was down. I was sure at that point that I was in the middle of the Twilight Zone and was meant to learn some important lesson from my misadventures. I called my mother back home in Tennessee and asked her to help me. She made a reservation for me, but I couldn’t print it off because of the lack of wifi. Instead, I wrote down the reservation number and was sure that the librarians would accept that. When I arrived back at the library around 1:30 pm, it was closed. At that point, I was done with Paris and ready to question the expatriates and everyone else who ever said that Europe was the center of culture. Again, I reached out to my mother to see if she could discover why the building was closed. Apparently, because many office buildings

7  WHEN THE LESSON PLAN FAILS: REFLECTING ON TEACHING LYNN… 

97

are not completely airconditioned, several academic and governmental buildings were shut down in an abundance of caution to prevent workers from suffering heat stroke. She encouraged me to try again the next day, so she made an additional reservation and emailed it to me hoping that the internet would work eventually. Our misadventure at the library was not the only hiccup in the itinerary. The next day we went to see Versailles accompanied again by the high school intern. She helped us navigate the Paris train system and escorted us to the gates. However, she seemed very confused about our entrance. Although the tickets were pre-purchased, she did not think we should have to stand in line. There were two different lines and she did not know which one we needed to stand in. Because I do not speak French, I encouraged her to ask an official where we should go. She did and we were directed to the longer of the two lines. In the line, the students complained about the experience and my colleague snapped. There was to be no more talking until we were inside. Luckily, they obliged, but once we were inside, we were told that no tour had been procured for us even though that was our expectation. Instead we were given maps and told to navigate the sprawling palace on our own. We coordinated a meeting time and let them wander on their own. I was honestly relieved. I could choose which rooms to see on my own and consider how the ambience compared with Nottage’s descriptions. The train ride home was uneventful. Everyone was tired and slept, except me. We were nearing the end of our time abroad and I had so many questions left unanswered from this experience.

Reflections: Lessons on the Road Before I left Paris, I had some unfinished business to accomplish. First, I journey back to St. Genevieve. Having secured the second reservation, the front desk clerk helped me print off my receipt. Armed with this piece of paper, I returned. After entering the library, I was carded and provided with a name badge with my photograph printed on it. Then I realized I did not know where the portrait was. I approached a librarian who thankfully spoke English who listened to my issue; she told me that the portrait was in a special office and I had to have permission to see it. She left me in the lobby to inquire whether I would be permitted to see it. In the lobby, I looked down this long corridor envisioning stacks of dusty books and librarians pouring over them. I was sure that the answer would be no, but it wasn’t. When I was taken through the corridor, I entered a small room

98 

J. L. HAYES

with three young librarians sitting at a table. One asked me why I had come all this way to see the portrait. She said no one ever comes to see it. I pulled out the play and explained that I was a professor teaching a course about African American literature, and the woman in the portrait was a key character in the play. They all seemed very excited by that. I guess I passed the second test because I was then ushered into a tiny office and on a bookshelf sat The Black Nun of Moret. I burst into tears. This startled the librarian who realized how much this moment meant to me. She offered to take my picture with the painting, and I accepted. So, in my personal collection of travel photos, there is a prized image of me red eyed and puffy cheeked smiling beside the nondescript painting. On this free day, I visited two other important sites. First, I went to Picpus Cemetery. At this cemetery lies Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Renowned for his bravery and distinction in the American Revolution and played brilliantly in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton by Daveed Diggs, I was intent on paying my respects to the French and American war hero. My visit to the cemetery was very pleasant. Cemeteries in Paris are more like parks with benches and flora decorated pathways. They are monuments to the dead, and I wondered who decides who is remembered? Who decides which lives have value and should be immortalized in literature? This question plagued me on my return to the hotel. Instead of riding back, I decided to take the number 8 metro from Daumesnil to Bastille. I knew, of course, that the famed prison had been destroyed, but I also wondered how it had been memorialized. How had the French dealt with the bloody history of the Bastille? To my surprise in the middle of Place de la Bastille stood a tall tower, entitled “Génie de la Liberté” or “The Spirit of Freedom” which commemorates the revolution of 1830 and the French Revolution. Apparently, the square is now a venue for outside concerts. Time marches on. I tried to envision what it must have looked like centuries past, but I couldn’t see it. No trace of the bloody history remains. In its wake, a pristine monument to the spirit of freedom stood. To say I was disillusioned after my return from Paris would be accurate. At this point, years have passed and I am able to think more critically about the course and the experience and distill the lessons it taught me. We chose Paris as a destination for our study abroad course because Paris played an integral role in African American literature and in the African Diaspora more broadly. We thought it would be a fruitful place to analyze the literature and the lives of the writers that lived there so many years ago.

7  WHEN THE LESSON PLAN FAILS: REFLECTING ON TEACHING LYNN… 

99

To my surprise, Paris also offered me a space of inquiry into my own teaching and research agenda. If history is a story we tell ourselves about the past, whose narrative is the one most often privileged? What responsibility do critics, educators, readers have toward history? How can we investigate the memories or what Parks calls “re-membered” events in our present day honestly? I’m not sure I have answers for these questions, but I do know that study abroad courses can play a role in the investigation. To me it seems that so often study abroad courses are painted as life changing experiences where students are ushered off to “exotic” locales to be immersed in a culture. The reality is that many of them only have surface level interactions with cultures outside of their own and are not trained to critically engage with their subject positions and see themselves as global citizens. As a result, students lose out on a fruitful learning opportunity for exchange. Study abroad should offer more than a superficial glossy nationalistic image of a place. In Paris, I often felt like we were at Disneyland. We were being shown images of Paris that suited our guides nationalist agendas, and I understand the impulse. As much as I tried to encourage students to act as ambassadors of their country and their university, the individuals we interacted with from guides to waiters seemed to offer an image of France that reflected the parts of the whole they most wanted us to see. I do not think this is an issue of inauthenticity. Instead, it seems that a native’s view of their home is a cherished image, and they seek to display the parts they cherish most to outsiders. What should a study abroad course accomplish? How do study abroad courses promote romantic sanitized images of the world and history? My individual quest for The Black Nun of Moret was eye opening. I understood immediately that Versailles venerated particular aspects of French history while pushing others to the shadows. While we walked through the Hall of Mirrors, I couldn’t help but think about the Bastille. This palace almost bankrupted a country and today, the French government sells tickets for locals and foreigners alike to come and gaze upon the opulence not the tragedy of class warfare. How does the current image of Versailles jive with the reality of the guillotine? These are the questions that we must ask in order to understand the connections between the past and present. In the meantime, as Parks suggests, it is our responsibility to uncover the bones of those lost to history because they are not mentioned within the dominant narratives of the glorious past. If drama can unearth those bones, the educator’s job is to examine them. For me the true power of

100 

J. L. HAYES

experiential praxis lies in its ability to force students out of the routine of their traditional academic spaces. For study abroad to be a useful tool, it must encourage inquiry. Instead of a list of key sites to visit, instructors should start with a list of questions to be investigated. Only then, will the true usefulness of moving beyond traditional academic settings fulfill its rich purpose. Otherwise, study abroad merely functions as a one week to semester getaway where students collect Instagram photos to post and claim their coveted likes. To encourage a deeper experience, students and faculty must be ready to ask tough questions and allow the natural negotiation of unfamiliar spaces to present profound lessons.

Bibliography “Bibliotheque Saint Genevieve.” Bibliotheque Saint Genevieve. Accessed February 7, 2020. https://www.bsg.univ-paris3.fr/iguana/www.main.cls Boffey, Daniel. “Failed Brussels attack could have caused widespread casualties – authorities.” The Guardian. June 14, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/ world/2017/jun/21/belgiansecurity-ser vices-say-would-be terrorist-carefully-planned-bomb-attack “Cimetière de Picpus.” Paris Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Accessed January 12, 2020. https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museummonument/71410/Cimetiere-de-Picpus “How the tragedy unfolded at Grenfell Tower.” BBC News. May 18, 2018. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-40272168 Ing, Nancy and Corky Siemaszko. “Paris Police Targeted Again in Suspected Terror Attack.” NBC News. June 19, 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/ news/world/paris-police-targeted-again-suspected-terror-attack-n774161 Nottage, Lynn. Las Meninas In Crumbs From the Table of Joy and Other Plays. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2004. “Pantheon.” Centre de Monuments de Nationaux. Accessed January 18, 2020. http://www.paris-pantheon.fr/en/ Parks, Suzan Lori. “Possession.” In The America Play and Other Works. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1995. Piacentino, Ed. “Seeds of Rebellion in Plantation Fiction: Victor Séjour’s ‘The Mulatto’” Brewminate. February 10, 2019. https://brewminate.com/ seeds-of-rebellion-in-plantationfiction-victor-sejours-the-mulatto/ “Place de la Bastille.” Paris Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Accessed January 12, 2020. https://en.parisinfo.com/transport/90952/ Place-de-la-Bastille

CHAPTER 8

Writing Reflections for Study Abroad Classes

Abstract  This chapter considers the connection between low stake reflective activities and essay reflections as crucial components to study abroad courses. I argue by incorporating reflective exercises students are required to make knowledge and think critically as they experience a location. Keywords  Reflections • Assessments • Low stake activities • Assignments The first study abroad course I taught was organized over the course of one summer session and lasted approximately four weeks. The course was divided into three components: predeparture, time abroad, and the return. Subsequently, I have chosen to teach study abroad courses in shorter sessions clearly dividing the time on ground at the institution initially and ending with the experiential praxis via a study abroad component. I like situating the course in a familiar on ground setting before venturing away from the university because it allows the class an opportunity to form community and for the instructor to establish class norms. I realize that different institutions might structure their study abroad courses differently, but I enjoy the ability to establish normalcy and develop community with the students before departing the country. Reflective assessments have been useful assignments to help connect students learning experiences to the learning objectives within the course. © The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5_8

101

102 

J. L. HAYES

These assignments allow for a low stake activity that at the same time reinforces a recognizable structure as students participate in cocurricular activities and events while they travel abroad. These types of low stake assignments function as guided coursework that help lead the student to consider the deeper connections between their experience and the subject matter of the course. Students should be encouraged to carry notebooks, tablets, and other digital devices during their experiences so they have an opportunity to chronicle the notes and ideas that come to mind in real time. While these types of activities are not weighted as much as an exam or major essay project, they help students organize their thoughts and consider the importance of learning outside of the classroom. In this chapter, I consider how to connect meaningful reflective exercises to more involved projects that promote critical thinking and argumentation. Reflective exercises encourage students to make connections and to answer the important question that is asked by their parents, peers, and various members of their community “What did you learn while you were away?” Beyond this initial question, reflective assessments require students to consider how they learn and to demonstrate agency in the scholastic journey. While study abroad can be perceived as a superficial component of higher education, the incorporation of reflective assignments encourages students to put their experiences to use immediately and consider the ways in which travel contributes to learning. Below, I describe two different types of reflections that connect to activities students participated in during a study abroad course to Paris, France, in 2017. I structured the first activity by describing the cocurricular event and providing a model assessment. While this activity addresses different parts of the experience, it helps prepare students for the final assessment which was a reflective essay that required students to compare their impressions of Paris with popular depictions of Paris in film.

Activity 1 Reflecting on the Final Resting Places of African American Expatriates Preparation • Before visiting the cemetery, students read literature by Richard Wright and Victor Sejour. They understood the racial dynamics in the United States that led both writers to venture abroad. Ultimately,

8  WRITING REFLECTIONS FOR STUDY ABROAD CLASSES 

103

they were introduced to foundational figures in African American literature and expected to see the final resting places of these men. Event • Students visited Cimetière du Père Lachaise to pay homage to Victor Sejour and Richard Wright. • Students were expected to attend a guided tour of the cemetery and reflect on the lives of the writers, the writers’ contributions to African American literature, and the writers’ legacy in death. They also expected to hear a lecture about the lives of the writers in Paris. Description of Actual Event • Our guide had trouble locating both figures’ graves and wanted instead to show us popular White figures from history such as Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. • After nearly an hour of wandering around the vast cemetery, the students located Sejour’s grave and were disappointed at the appearance of his tombstone which was broken and in need of repair. • Having utilized so much of our time locating Sejour’s grave, we made a mad dash to the mausoleums. In a corner behind a stairway, students observed Richard Wright’s grave. The speaker had not prepared a speech about either writer’s life and departed leaving the faculty members with a map to lead the students out. After the departure of the guide, the students expressed sadness about the location of the writers’ graves and wondered aloud about their placement. • On our departure, we stopped at Gertrude Stein’s resting place and the faculty discussed Wright’s relationship with his writing mentor. The students noticed that Stein’s tombstone was large and well kept. They also noticed that several small stones had been placed on top of her marker, which opened up a conversation regarding different religious traditions regarding honoring the dead. Activity After we returned to the hotel, we had a brief discussion. We asked the students to compose a 300-word reflection documenting their thoughts

104 

J. L. HAYES

about their experience at the cemetery. We provided the students with multiple questions to consider, but we encouraged them to articulate one key point and defend it with evidence from their visit to the cemetery. Sample questions are listed below: • Consider the locations of Sejour’s and Wright’s graves and explain what the locations in the cemetery suggest about their legacy in Paris, France. • Contrast your expectations to the reality of the location and appearances of the graves. How did the reality challenge your initial expectations? • Consider how Gertrude Stein’s grave differed from Wright’s and Sejour’s. • Why did the guide encourage the group to see Oscar Wilde’s and Jim Morrison’s graves instead of the ones on our initial itinerary? What does this recommendation suggest about Wright and Sejour? Outcome The students wrote thoughtful reflections regarding their experience at Cimetière du Père Lachaise. Most were surprised by how beautiful and ornate the cemetery appeared and felt like it had a very different mood than cemeteries they had visited in the United States. Ultimately, all of the students understood that the African American writers they came to visit were marginalized in death at the cemetery as they had been marginalized in life. They considered the ways in which the placement of the graves and the disrepair of Sejour’s grave deeply hurt them. I did not expect the students to have an emotional reaction to the appearance and locations of the grave, but I was impressed by their sadness because it emphasized a nuanced response. They understood that these men had left the United States looking for a place where they could experience a level of freedom, and perhaps they did experience more freedom in Paris than the United States. However, their graves suggest that they were still periphery figures in France. Students completed multiple short reflections connected to the sites they visited, but once we returned to the United States, they had an opportunity to reflect on the totality of their experience. Unlike many of their peers and family members, they had travelled to Paris, France. Paris is a popular feature in culture with recognizable images constantly visible

8  WRITING REFLECTIONS FOR STUDY ABROAD CLASSES 

105

in popular culture. The last assignment for the class was an essay that allowed students to consider their impressions of Paris with common representations of Paris. The students viewed the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris and composed a paper that answered the following questions.

A Black Feminist Response to Midnight in Paris Introduction Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris presents the story of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a struggling writer with a fascination with Paris. Pender has several experiences that present a romanticized whitewashed image of Paris and expatriates. Now that you have visited Paris and have learned about the experiences of Black expatriates, consider what the film gets wrong. Assignment In this assignment, you will write a two-page film response that criticizes one aspect of the film. You will craft a critical argument based on your experiences, reading, and understanding of Paris that exposes one key problem in the film. In your introduction, you will: • Introduce the film (director, setting, key actors, etc.) • Provide key background about a singular aspect of Paris the film gets wrong • Include a thesis statement that articulates the problematic representation of Paris In your body, you will: • Identify and fully explain the problem (e.g. Is there a problem with the setting, with the characters, with the depiction of expatriates, etc.) • Provide evidence that challenges Allen’s depiction • Explain how Allen’s choices result in an inaccurate depiction of Paris In your conclusion, you will:

106 

J. L. HAYES

• Propose a solution to make the film a more inclusive and reflective depiction of Paris • Your conclusion must adhere to Black feminist critical principles. That means that you must consider how your solution will address the issues connected to the White male gaze that has been applied to Paris (hint consider gender bias, racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc.) Outcome Ultimately, the students realized that the depiction of Paris in the movie was very White. They didn’t see many people of color, and the film did not reflect the diversity they experienced abroad. While many of the students could identify this issue, fewer were able to argue why Paris is presented in popular culture as a primarily White space. The racial dynamics at play in texts that erase Black bodies from the screen exposed, to these students, the importance of art written from diverse perspectives. Without writers like Wright or Sejour, the accepted narrative about culture and power excludes Blackness. However, their experiences abroad allowed them to identify the false nature of this White depiction and positioned them to think deeply about the importance of representations of Black people in art. The reflective assessments included in the study abroad course to Paris encouraged students to connect their reading and experiences with the dominant impression of Paris. They connected to the material and demonstrated an understanding that their experience had equipped them with meaningful lessons that learning about Paris from the typical university classroom would not have afforded. Combining reflective assessments with other assessment strategies encourages students to critically investigate the cocurricular activities and events that are imbedded into the course. This type of critique encourages higher level thinking and represents a transferrable skill that will serve students long after their return home.

Appendix

Student Name___________________________________________________ Dr. Hayes and Dr. Dixon English 4010-01 6 May 2019 Fisher “The City of Refuge” Quiz Directions: Write your responses directly on this handout. Write one full paragraph (at least eight to ten sentences) answering each question. Describe one way the city of refuge is different from King Solomon Gillis’ home.

© The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5

107

108 

Appendix

Student Name_____________________________________________ Drs. Dixon and Hayes English 4010-01 16 May 2019 Quiz Larsen, Wright, and Fisher Answer the following questions in blue or black ink using complete sentences. The assignment analyzes three short stories. Nella Larsen’s “Sanctuary,” Richard Wright’s “Big, Black, Good Man”, and Rudolph Fisher’s “City of Refuge” 1. In Rudolph Fisher’s short story “City of Refuge,” what city is the city of refuge? 2. Define the term sanctuary. 3. Who sought sanctuary in Larsen’s short story, “Sanctuary”? 4. Why doesn’t Annie Poole reveal who is hidden in her house? 5. Describe the positive representation of masculinity in “Sanctuary.” 6. What is Olaf’s job? 7. Why is Olaf afraid? 8. Name one way Olaf’s fear influences his behavior. 9. Who is Lena? 10. Why does Olaf claim he is not racist?

  Appendix  

109

Larsen Writing Assignment Instructions Assignment •

You will apply Homi Bhabha’s concept of “unhome” to both novels.



Below, we have provided lists of topics to consider.



In each paper, you will show how one character struggles with the feeling of being “unhome” by analyzing a specific topic below.

Topics Writing Assignment 1 on Passing

Writing Assignment 2 on Quicksand

Topics Passing–race, class, and sexuality Marriage Motherhood Interracial Relationships The Tragic Mulatto Travel Death Betrayal

Topics Education Fate vs. Free will Travel Marriage Motherhood Community Whiteness The Tragic Mulatto

Outline and Expectations Write a 600–700 word multiple paragraph essay on one of the topics. The paper should be typed in Times New Roman, size 12 font. The paper should be MLA formatted and documented. The introduction should 1. Name the author and text under examination 2. Discuss or define the selected topic 3. Identify how the topic is used in text or why the topic is in the text 4. Provide an argument explaining how the topic is used in the text. The argument is not a question, but should be a declarative statement that takes a definitive position and provides insight into how the topic is used or presented in the text. The body of the essay should contain at least two to three paragraphs that 1. define a point in support of your thesis 2. elaborate on the point or explain it further 3. provide evidence in the form of quoted passage or summary from the novel 4. explain the evidence, especially in relationship to the thesis. The Conclusion should 1. Explain a lesson derived from analyzing the text and topic. 2. Make connections to today regarding the topics, especially as it is presented in the novel.

110 

Appendix

Washington Journal Assignment Instructions Students will read the following texts. Booker T. Washington •

Excerpt from Up from Slavery “The Struggle for an Education” and



Excerpt from My Larger Education “What I Learned about Education in Denmark” PDFS

Students will compose three journals that connect to cultural excursions and cocurricular activities. Each journal entry should be 250 words. Students will write reflections articulating one connection between either text and the cultural excursion visited. Some questions to consider in a response Try to think about just a few of these; a successful journal will consider one issue in depth rather than attempt to answer each one of these questions. Make sure your introduction has a clear thesis that you defend throughout your piece. Your response should not focus solely on your feelings. You must investigate the text via theories we discussed from class. •

How does the text reflect cultural attitudes about identity (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, nationality, or religion)?



Did you find your own values and assumptions reflected in the text?



How did the text challenge your assumptions regarding identity?



Explain the significance of one clam within the work. Consider the significance of the claim within the scope of the course.

Reading Response Format Policy All papers will be typed, double-spaced, printed in black readable print, and formatted in MLA style. All papers will use a 12-point Times New Roman font and will have a 1" margin at the top, bottom, and both sides. Due Dates: Each journal should focus on one cocurricular event. The journals must be uploaded by May 23rd 2019 to Elearn. Dr. Hayes English 4010-01 5 June 2017

  Appendix  

111

Photo Report Assignment Directions:

You will compose a document that incorporates pictures from our class. You should include pictures from the entire process including: pictures in our TSU classroom, in the airport/airplane, at our welcome and goodbye meals, at our cultural excursions, and during our sessions at the CIEE institute. You do not have to take any pictures upon our return. You must include at least 30 pictures; include at least 2 pictures from every cultural excursion. You must also include at least one group picture of the entire class and professors in Europe. The pictures should be organized by date and location. You will be required to include a label that indicates: the date the picture was taken, the content of the picture, the location of the picture, and if possible the people represented in the picture. Please see model below.

Fig 1. Dr. Jennifer L. Hayes Parc Guell Barcelona, Spain 5-5-17 Photo Format Guidelines Upload a Word document containing your report. It should be typed, double-spaced, printed in black readable print, and formatted in MLA style. All papers will use a 12-point Times New Roman font and will have a 1" margin at the top, bottom, and both sides. Defer to the directions provided by CIEE for formatting the pictures.

Dr. Hayes English 4010-01 5 June 2017

112 

Appendix

A Black Feminist Response to Midnight in Paris Introduction Woody Allen’s 2011 film Midnight in Paris presents the story of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a struggling writer with a fascination for Paris. Pender has several experiences that present a romanticized whitewashed image of Paris and expatriates. Now that you have visited Paris and have learned about the experiences of Black expatriates, consider what the film gets wrong. Assignment In this assignment, you will write a two-page film response that criticizes one aspect of the film. You will craft a critical argument based on your experiences, reading, and understanding of Paris that exposes one key problem in the film. In your introduction, you will: • Introduce the film (director, setting, key actors, etc.) • Provide key background about a singular aspect of Paris the film gets wrong • Include a thesis statement that articulates the problematic representation of Paris In your body, you will: • Identify and fully explain the problem (e.g. Is there a problem with the setting, with the characters, with the depiction of expatriates, etc.) • Provide evidence that challenges Allen’s depiction • Explain how Allen’s choices result in an inaccurate depiction of Paris In your conclusion, you will: • Propose a solution to make the film a more inclusive and reflective depiction of Paris • Your conclusion must adhere to Black feminist critical principles. That means that you must consider how your solution will address the issues connected to the White male gaze that has been applied to Paris (hint consider gender bias, racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, etc.). You must include a work cited page where you cite the film. Do not consult any reviews or outside sources for this assignment. You should visit imdb.com to find filmographic information for the citation. The citation format is below: Director last name, Director first name, director. Name of film. Film distributor, year film was created. Example Lucas, George, director. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977. Guidelines Upload your film response to Elearn by June 27, 11:59 pm. NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED All papers will be typed, double-spaced, printed in black readable print, and formatted in MLA style. All papers will use a 12-point Times New Roman font and will have a 1" margin at the top, bottom, and both sides. The film response will include work cited page citing the primary source. Dr. Hayes English 4010-01 5 June 2017

  Appendix  

113

Reading Response Guidelines Students will write three reading responses. Each response should be at least two typewritten double-spaced pages. While you are not expected or advised to utilize secondary completing this assignment, you are expected to include a work cited page that correctly cites the sources in primary source analyzed. Responses must be uploaded to Elearn by 11:59 p.m. on the day they are due. Reading Responses will not be accepted late. A reading response is not a summary of your reading; instead think of your response as an evaluation of the text. Be specific about the works you are discussing, give details to back-up any assertions you may make, and finally, pay attention to grammar and mechanics. Because the response is so short, you will want to establish a narrow focus. For instance, your response might explore one issue connected to feminism from the reading. Your goal is to examine this singular aspect of the text and discuss your response to it.

Some questions to consider in a response Try to think about just a few of these; a successful reading response will consider one issue in depth rather than attempt to answer each one of these questions. Make sure your introduction has a clear thesis that you defend throughout your piece. Your response should not focus solely on your feelings. You must investigate the text via theories we discussed from class.



How does the text reflect cultural attitudes about identity (e.g. gender, race, sexuality, nationality, or religion)?



Did you find your own values and assumptions reflected in the text?



How did the text challenge your assumptions regarding identity?

114  •

Appendix

Explain the significance of one clam within the work. Consider the significance of the claim within the scope of the course.

Reading Response Format Policy All papers will be typed, double-spaced, printed in black readable print, and formatted in MLA style. All papers will use a 12-point Times New Roman font and will have a 1"margin at the top, bottom , and both sides. Each reading response will include a work cited page citing the primary source.

Due Dates: Each reading response should focus on one text. You may not write about a text more than once in your reading responses. You may not write about a film in your reading responses. You must select a text from the syllabus to write about. The focus section of the schedule explains which texts you should engage for your reading response. You may only write about a text within the timeline specified in the focus column. Assignment Response 1 Response 2

Response 3

Student Name Dr. Hayes English 4010-01 26 June 2017

Focus Pick one reading: Fisher, Smith, Christian, or Sejour Pick one reading: you may write about any individual Baldwin essay or an essay from Wright Las Meninas

Due Date June 8, Thursday June 13, Tuesday

June 22, Thursday

  Appendix  

115

Viewing Questions for What Happened, Miss Simone? Directions

At the top of the page, under the title, write a full citation of the movie in MLA style. Answer 15 of the viewing questions to the best of your ability. Write in complete sentences and be as thorough as possible. This assignment must be uploaded to Elearn by 11:59 pm 4–11.

You must answer 45 questions for this activity. You must write in complete sentences. One word answers will receive no credit. 1. Who is the source of the title of the documentary? 2. Describe your initial impressions of Simone as she sits down to the play the piano. 3. How does Simone define freedom? 4. According to Lisa Simone Kelly, how did Nina use her art? What problems did her art create in her personal life? 5. What genre of music did Simone first practice? What was her goal? 6. Background informationWhat was her birth name? Where was she from? How did her mother’s profession connect with Simone’s passion for music? 7. Who is Mrs. Mazzanovich? How is she connected to Simone’s progression as an artist? 8. Describe some of the consequences of her early training with Mrs. Mazzanovich? 9. After high school, what were Simone’s academic ambitions? 10. Why did Simone begin singing? 11. Why did she change her name? 12. Look up the meaning of Simone. How is this name connected with Nina’s identity? 13. Who is Al Schackman? According to Schackman, what was Simone’s gift with music?

116 

Appendix

14. What was the title of her first hit? 15. ResearchWhat is the subject of the 1934 English Language Opera Porgy and Bess? 16. Who is Andrew Stroud? 17. How did her life change after marrying Stroud? 18. What was Simone’s goal as a professional performer? How is this connected to the glass ceiling/cement ceiling? 19. Quote “You’ll be a rich black bitch.” This was a promise Stroud make to his wife. How does this statement describe his view of his wife and his subsequent treatment of her? 20. How did her work schedule impact her physical and mental health? 21. Consider the domestic abuse she faced in her marriage. Describe it. 22. Simone’s daughter describes why her mother stayed, “she had a love affair with fire.” How is this statement connected to victim blaming? 23. What was Stroud’s vision for Simone’s career? 24. How did Simone respond to civil unrest with her art? 25. What song did she write in response to the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing? 26. How did radio stations respond to her song/message? 27. Describe Simone’s involvement with the Selma March? 28. Simone and Stroud have different desires with her music. What does Stroud desire vs. Simone? 29. ResearchWho first recorded the song “Strange Fruit”? 30. She describes the first experience of being discriminated against. What was that experience? How does she respond to that moment? 31. OpinionHow did her art change with the development of the Civil Rights Movement? 32. According to Simone, what does she think her duty is as an artist?

  Appendix  

117

33. What impact does she want to have on her audience as they “leave a nightclub” where she performs? 34. The play To Be Young, Gifted, and Black was written by what famous African American playwright? 35. What famous civil rights leader lived next to Nina Simone? 36. How did her political work negatively impact her marriage? 37. What is her impression of young African American people (hint “lost race”)? 38. One critic calls her a “patron saint of the rebellion.” Can you give an example of this idea? 39. Who is Stokely Carmichael? What student organization did he lead? 40. How did her focus on politics hurt her professional career? 41. How was she penalized for speaking out? 42. What benefits do artists have that don’t get involved with politics? 43. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was originally recorded by The Animals. How is this song connected to her identity? 44. IronyAlthough she is fighting for the liberation of Black people, how is she still figuratively prisoned as an artist? 45. Schackman talks about a transformation she underwent. Describe some of the negative results of living in a racially and sexist oppressive environment. 46. DefineWhat is a nervous breakdown? 47. Describe the differences in their attitudes toward sexuality.

48. How did Simone respond after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated? 49. What African country did Simone move to after her divorce? 50. ResearchWhat group founded this nation and when? 51. How did she feel differently in her new home?

118 

Appendix

52. How did this move impact her daughter? 53. Violence is an important theme in this film. Describe the violent nature of her relationship with her daughter. 54. EvaluationHow has the violence of the Civil Rights Movement, Her Marriage, and the Jim Crow South impacted her relationships? 55. Kelly claims in Africa her mother claimed she hated the piano. What did the piano symbolize to Simone? 56. In Africa, she stopped playing in Africa. Compare and contrast her life in the United States with her life in Africa. 57. Why did she begin playing again? 58. Which country did she visit after she left Africa? 59. Her first concert back was at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1976. We have circled back to the beginning of the film. Now that you know more about her journey to this performance, describe your impression of Simone during this performance? 60. She has a tense moment where she yells at an audience member. Why does she get so angry in this moment? 61. She sings Janice Ian’s song “Stars.” Look up the lyrics. Pick one line that you think embodies Nina Simone’s return to the stage. 62. After the Montreux Festival, she moved to Paris. She claimed that many people didn’t come to see her because they didn’t believe she was really there. Explain what she means when she says that time period was her “fall from grace.” 63. She laments not becoming the first Black classical pianist. What are the consequences 64. How did her participation in the Civil Rights Movement impact her career? 65. Who is Gerrit Du Bruin? What was his involvement in Simone’s career toward the end of her life?

  Appendix  

119

66. She was diagnosed with two mental illnesses. What were they? 67. At the end of her life, she is presented with a “choice.” What does she decide to do? 68. Du Bruin describes her response as being accompanied by tears in her eyes. Why is she crying? 69. What were some of the negative consequences of the medicine she took? 70. “Was Nina Simone allowed to be exactly who she was?” Clearly not. As a result, she suffered because she did not fit in. Define the word legacy and consider Simone’s legacy as an artist and/or as an advocate. Dr. Hayes and Dr. Dixon English 4010-01 5 June 2017

120 

Appendix

Study Abroad Preliminary Evaluation Directions: complete answers to the following questions. 1. Provide key identification demographic information including race, sex, age, major/minor, expected date of graduation.

2. What is the name of the program you attended?

3. What was the time frame for the study abroad class?

4. Did you receive financial aid for this program?

5. Have you ever traveled outside of the United States before? If so, where?

6. What are you most looking forward to in regards to this study abroad experience?

7. How do you expect the travel portion to impact your learning?

8. Why did you want to take a study abroad course?

  Appendix  

121

9. If you had to pay for the study abroad experience in addition to your tuition, would you have been able to take advantage of this course?

10. What aspect of the pre-departure meetings was most useful to you?

11. What aspect of the pre-departure meetings would you change? How would this change help future students?

12. What are your biggest concerns related to this class?

122 

Appendix

Dr. Hayes English 4010-01 9 June 2017 Discussion Question Assignment Directions: Craft discussion questions based on the reading. A discussion question should promote conversation regarding an important point from the text. It should illicit more than a yes or no answer. Be sure to include a quote for the class to consider with the question. Provide a page number to identify the quote. ****This assignment is due at the beginning of class on the 13th and 14th.**** June 13, 2017 Bring two discussion questions. One should focus on Wright’s “Blueprint for Negro Writing” and the other on Baldwin’s “Everybody’s Protest Novel.” June 14, 2017 Bring one discussion question to class that focuses on Act I of Las Meninas. June 20, 2017 Bring one discussion question to class that focuses on Act II of Las Meninas. Guidelines: Neatly handwrite your question including your quote and page number. Format your paper in MLA style including an endorsement, page number, and your title. Below, I have provided a model of a sample discussion question and quote from Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use” to help guide your writing. Mama undergoes an epiphany in “Everyday Use.” An epiphany is defined as “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.” Identify what she suddenly realizes and explain how that realization changes her relationship with Maggie? Quote: “When I looked at her like that something hit me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feet.”

  Appendix  

123

Student Name Dr. Hayes/Dixon 13 June 2017 Wright and Baldwin on Writing Quiz 1. What are the two sources of Negro culture according to Wright?

2. “One would have thought that Negro writers in the last century of striving at expression would have continued and deepened this folk tradition, would have tried to create a more intimate and yet a more profoundly social system of artistic communication between them and their people.” According to Wright, who should be the intended audience for works written by Black authors? What responsibility do these authors have to this community?

3. Identify and explain one specific criticism James Baldwin has of protest literature. (Hint start by defining protest literature.)

124 

Appendix

Student Name Hayes/Dixon English 4010-01 13 June 2017 Las Meninas Quiz Directions: This is a short answer quiz. Answer the following questions writing one or two brief sentences. 1. Who is the narrator of the play? 2. Who is La Valliere? 3. What name does the Queen prefer to call Nabo and why? 4. What language does the Queen speak? 5. Where do the Queen and King live? 6. Identify one art form that appears in Act I. 7. Where is Nabo from? 8. Explain the racist implications of the Queen’s desire to see Nabo dance. 9. What is the narrator’s relationship to Nabo and the Queen? 10. What ceremony is the narrator preparing for as she tells this secret story?

  Appendix  

125

Student Name _________________________________ Dr. Hayes and Dr. Dixon English 4010-01 13 May 2019 Travel Tips Quiz 1 Directions: Write one or two sentences that fully answer the following questions. 1. Identify one way to not make yourself a target while travel abroad.

2. If you feel threatened, what should you do?

3. How can you spot an American abroad?

4. What household necessity is often missing from European hotels?

5. What is the name of Danish currency?

6. According to the first clown (i.e. first gravedigger), “who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?”

126 

Appendix

Student Name ______________________________________________________________ Drs. Dixon and Hayes English 4010-01 14 May 2019 Quicksand Quiz to chapter 14 Part A. Matching Directions: Write the letter of the most appropriate match in the space provided. A. Helga Crane B. Aunt Katrina E. Miss MacGooden F. Uncle Peter I. Anne Grey J. Mrs. Hayes Rore

C. James Vayle G. Karen Nilssen K. Dr. Anderson

1. Principal at Naxos __ 2. Born in a Chicago slum __ 3. Helga wants to asks him for money __ 4. Father is a gambler__ 5. Wants to see Helga in bright colors __ 6. Dormitory matron __ 7. Widow and writer __ 8. Relative in Denmark __ 9. Aunt wants Helga to consider him for marriage __ 10. Helga lives with her in New York__ 11. Throws parties for Black and White people in New York __ 12. Helga’s fiancé at Naxos__ 13. Helga’s colleague in the English department at Naxos__ 14. Uncle Peter’s new wife __ 15. Wants to paint Helga __

D. Margaret Creighton H. Alex Olsen L. Audrey Denney

  Appendix  

127 

Part B. Essay Response Directions: Select a passage for the list below. Then explain in paragraph form the following about the selected passage: •

Explain the context: in other words, what is happening?



Explain the theme being presented.



Explain what the passage indicates or conveys about the theme.



Make a connection to a social issue or personal experience.

1. “And by the way, I wouldn’t mention that my people were white, if I were you. Colored people won’t understand it, and after all, its your business” (74). 2. “This frightened her a little, this and the fact that she had spent money, too much money, for a book and a tapestry purse, things which she wanted, but did not need and certainly could not afford” (64) 3. “Well, he isn’t exactly your uncle, is he? Your mother wasn’t married, was she? I mean, to your father?…And please remember my husband is not your uncle. No indeed! Why, that, that would make me your aunt!” (61) 4. “To me…the most wretched Negro prostitute that walks One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Street is more than any president of these United States, not except Abraham Lincoln’…. She would not have desired or even have been willing to live in any section outside the black belt, and she would have refused scornfully, had they been tendered, any invitation from white folk. She hated white people with a deep and burning hatred” (79-80). 5. “Left alone, Helga began to wonder. She was dubious, too, and not a little resentful. Certainly she loved color with a passion that perhaps only Negroes and gypsies know. But she had a deep faith in the perfection of her own taste, an not mind to be bedecked in flashy things” (99). Response Passage Number _____

Index

NUMBERS AND SYMBOLS 1878 Fireburn Rebellion, 49 A Anglican, 21, 33, 34 Anne Grey, 60, 62 Armstrong, Samuel Chapman, 41, 43 The Atlanta Compromise, 44 The Atlanta Exposition, 40, 43 Aunt Katrina, 63 B Baldwin, James, 2, 4, 69–87, 90–92, 94 Baltimore, 24, 25, 35 Baraka, Amiri, 18 Belfast, 29, 34, 35 Bhabha, Homi, 4, 52 Big Boy Leaves Home, 72, 80 Bigger Thomas, 70

The Black Nun of Moret, 91, 96, 98, 99 Blueprint for Negro Writing, 71, 72, 75, 78 Blues for Mr. Charlie, 80 C Cambria, 28, 29, 33, 35 Cape Clear, 29 Catholic, 21, 22, 30, 33, 34 Chattel, 2, 25, 29 Chesapeake Bay, 24 Chicago, 4, 15, 52, 56–59, 70, 81 City of Harlem, 18 City of Refuge, 3, 7–19 Copenhagen, 4, 48, 49, 52, 53, 60, 63–66 Cork, 29, 35 Covey, 24, 25 Crane Helga, 4, 51–67 Criteria for Negro Art, 80, 81

© The Author(s) 2020 J. L. Hayes, Teaching African American Literature Through Experiential Praxis, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48595-5

129

130 

INDEX

D Daniel, O’Connell, 32 Danish West Indies, 53 Denmark, 4, 40, 45, 46, 48, 49, 53, 63–65 Dewey, John, 2 Douglass, Frederick, 2, 4, 21–36 Du Bois, W.E.B, 40, 41, 48, 61, 80, 81 Dublin, 29, 32–34 E England, 24, 28, 30, 32, 34, 45 Everybody’s Protest Novel, 70–72, 75, 79 Expatriate narratives, 2 F Fisher, Rudolph, 3, 7–19 Free Church of Scotland, 30 Freedom, 3, 4, 9, 11, 21–32, 34–36, 40, 41, 43, 44, 60, 91, 98, 104 French Revolution, 98 Fugitive Slave Act, 25 G Garrison, William Lloyd, 29, 35 Georgia, 28 Giant’s Causeway, 29, 34, 35 Going to Meet the Man, 72, 80, 86 Great Britain, 4, 23, 27, 36, 48 Great migration, 3, 9, 10, 12, 61 H Hampton Institute, 41, 42 Hampton University, 41

Harlem, 3, 4, 8–15, 18, 19, 52, 59–63, 66 Harlem Renaissance, 60, 61, 70, 78, 80 HBCU, 46, 47, 54 Hill of Howth, 29 Hughes, Langston, 60–62, 89 Hurston, Zora Neale, 23 I Ireland Act of 1920, 34 J Jacobs, Harriet, 2 Jim Crow, 11, 42 K King Solomon Gillis, 3, 8–16, 18, 19 L Larsen, Nella, 4, 51–56, 58–64 Las Meninas, 5, 89–100 The Liberator, 29 Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, 22 Limerick, 29 Locke, Alaine, 60, 61 London, 45, 93 Louis XIV, 91 Louise Marie-Therese, 91, 92 M Manumission, 30 Maryland, 22–24, 35 Massachusetts, 22, 26

 INDEX 

Migration narratives, 2 Minority serving institutions (MSIs), 1, 89 Mrs. Hayes Rore, 59, 60 Mrs. Nielson, 57–59, 62 Mouse Uggam, 9, 11–16 The Mulatto, 90 My Bondageand My Freedom, 4, 21–36 My Larger Education, 39, 40, 44, 47 N Nabo, 91 Native Son, 70, 80 Naxos, 51–56, 59, 60, 66 The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, 61 New Negro, 61 The New Negro, 60, 61 New Negro Renaissance, 9 New Orleans, 28, 91 New York, 8, 9, 13, 15, 25, 26 New York Vigilance Committee, 26 North Carolina, 3, 8, 11, 12 Northern Ireland, 21, 31–35 Notes of a Native Son, 86, 92 Nottage, Lynn, 5, 89–100 O Old Negro, 61 P Paris, 2, 4, 5, 69–87, 89–100, 102–106 Parks, Suzan Lori, 92, 99 Petry, Ann, 80, 82–83 Picpus Cemetery, 98 Place de la Bastille, 98

131

Post-Reconstruction, 40, 42, 44, 47, 61, 83 Post-war, 41, 69 Q Queen Marie Therese Queen, 91 Quicksand, 4, 51–67 R Racial consciousness, 54, 61 Reconstruction, 10, 40, 42, 44, 47, 61, 83 The Red Record, 48, 83 Ruggles, David, 26 S Sainte-Geneviève Library, 90, 91 Scotland, 30 Sejour, Victor, 90, 102–104, 106 Slave narratives, 2, 4, 23, 35 Slavery, 2–4, 22–33, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 48, 49, 91 Social protest, 4, 70–72, 75, 80, 82 The Souls of Black Folks, 40, 48 Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 79, 80 The Struggle for Education, 40 T Their Eyes were Watching God, 23 Trade school, 41 Travel Skills, 3, 7–19 U Uncle Peter, 56–59, 63 Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 79 Uncle Tom’s Children, 80, 86

132 

INDEX

Underground Railroad, 11 Unhome, 4, 52, 53, 66 Up from Slavery, 4, 40, 42, 47 Urban Realism, 69, 78 V Vayle, James, 52, 55, 60 Versailles, 90, 96, 97, 99 Virgin Islands, 53

W Washington, Booker T., 4, 39–49, 61 Washington D.C., 8, 11 Wells, Ida B., 48, 83 White Man Listen, 86, 92 World War I, 12 World War II, 69, 70 Wright, Richard, 2, 4, 10, 69–87, 89–92, 94, 102–104, 106