Everybody's Protest Novel

Thursday 11th March | 5:30-7pm GMT | Zoom 

In this session we will consider the protest novel as a genre, beginning with Baldwin’s thoughts from his essay ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’, published in Notes of a Native Son in 1955. In this essay, he examines the flaws in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, arguing that it adopts an overly simplistic view of complex racial issues. He then goes on to argue that this is also true of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son. This essay, along with another essay in that same collection (‘Many Thousands Gone’) were partly responsible for a rift between Baldwin and Wright which continued until Wright’s death.  

Alongside ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’, we will then read an essay by Richard Wright, ‘How Bigger Was Born’, which looks at the motivations behind his writing of Native Son. We will consider whether Baldwin’s comments on the novel seem justified in light of this, and what a successful protest novel might look like.  

There is no expectation that you will be familiar with Native Son or Uncle Tom’s Cabin to attend the session, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the meeting on Thursday 11th March. The meeting is being held over Zoom so please email en17jog@leeds.ac.uk for the link to the session. 

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