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Approaches to Teaching Wright's Native Son

Editor(s): James A. Miller

Pages: x & 141 pp.
Published: 1997
ISBN: 9780873527408 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780873527392 (hardcover)

"This collection will be a valuable resource not only for instructors teaching the novel for the first time but also for those who find that the approach to the novel they developed in the 1970s doesn't work today. Both James A. Miller's lucid introduction and the organization of the essays speak to issues an intelligent teacher wants help with."
Susan L. Blake, author of Letters from Togo

Richard Wright predicted that Bigger Thomas, his most powerful literary creation, would become "a symbolic figure of American life, a figure who would hold within him the prophecy of our future." The essays collected in this volume attest to the accuracy of that prediction and to the ability of Native Son--even after half a century--to fascinate, shock, and divide its readers. The novel raises many challenging questions for today's teachers and students: How much did Wright's radical political views influence the fabric of the novel? Is Bigger a racial archetype or racial stereotype? How does one reconcile Bigger's claims of free will with the book's grim environmental determinism? Who is responsible for the tragedy of Bigger Thomas?

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Wright's Native Son

James A. Miller

Readings for Students
The Instructor's Library
Reference Works
Critical Studies
Background Studies



Encountering the Text(s)

Native Son: Six Versions Seeking Interpretation
Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

Seeing Native Son
Robert J. Butler

Teaching Native Son in a German Undergraduate Literature Class
Klaus Schmidt

Literacy and the Liberation of Bigger Thomas
Melba Joyce Boyd

Native Son and the Dynamics of the Classroom

Native Son as Project
Laura L. Quinn

Race and the Teaching of Native Son
Garrett H. White

A Missionary to "Her People" Teaches Native Son
Martha Satz

Native Son and Its Readers
Robert Felgar

On Women, Teaching, and Native Son
Farah Jasmine Griffin

Teaching Interculturalism: Symbiosis, Interpretation, and Native Son
James C. Hall

Specific Approaches

The Covert Psychoanalysis of Native Son
Leonard Cassuto

Native Son as Depiction of a Carceral Society
Virginia Whatley Smith

Lessons in Truth: Teaching Ourselves and Our Students Native Son
SDiane A. Bogus

Max, Media, and Mimesis: Bigger's Representation in Native Son
Michael Bérubé

Doing the (W)Right Thing: Approaching Wright and Lee
Gary Storhoff

Works Cited


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