Maurice Wallace headshot--he wears a brown vest over a white button up shirt with a brown bowtie.
Photo by Dan Addison.

Richard Wright’s Never-Before-Published Novella: The Man Who Lived Underground

with Maurice Wallace
Wednesday, June 9, 2021 • Monday, June 14, 2021 Wednesday, June 16, 2021
4 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Applications & nominations are closed.
Deadline: May 4.

A never-before-published novella by Richard Wright is finally being released in April by The Library of America. The narrative is short, powerful, and relevant, opening with a horrific encounter between a Black man and police. 

Although Richard Wright’s penetrating novella is about racism, injustice, brutality, and the American Black experience, these terms approach the conditions of Black life as seen from above in the public light of racial struggle and history. What of the “underground,” where Black life is lived as if behind a veil? This master class explores meaningful historical and contemporary allegories associated with The Man Who Lived Underground, as well as what can be learned from Richard Wright for our own time.

This is a three-session master class. In the first two sessions, teachers learn from the master. In the third, participants have a rare and valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with other brilliant teachers. Participants are assigned a small amount of homework to prepare for each session.

Maurice Wallace is an associate professor of English at Rutgers. His fields of expertise include African American literature and cultural studies, nineteenth-century American literature, the history and representation of American slavery, and gender studies. He is the author of Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men’s Literature and Culture, 1775-1995, a book on the history of black manhood in African American letters and culture. He and Shawn Michelle Smith are co-editors of Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African-American Identity, a volume of scholarly articles on early photography and African American identity. Professor Wallace has served on the editorial boards for American Literature and Yale Journal of Criticism, and is a contributing editor to James Baldwin Review. His current research and writing agendas include a monograph on the religious life and leanings of Frederick Douglass and a critical exploration into the sound of Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice. Professor Wallace also teaches in areas of visual culture and sound studies.

Session 1

Session 2

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