Cosmopolitanism in the Fictive Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois—A Review

Dr. Samuel O. Doku’s new book, Cosmopolitanism in the Fictive Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward the Humanization of a Revolutionary Art is a trailblazer on the fiction of W.E.B. Du Bois. Although an infinitesimal number of commentaries and critiques have been written on Du Bois and his texts, no one ever utilized the revolutionary art of cosmopolitanism as a thematic framework to analyze Du Bois’s five novels and his debut short story, “Of the Coming of John” until Doku did it.
If Bill Meyers once remarked that “racism is not in the DNA of America; racism is America,” Doku has used the threads of cosmopolitanism in navigating paths of racial contours such as Jim Crow, segregation, discrimination, black leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, Pan-Africanism, and Pan-Asian idealism to highlight Du Bois’s fiction as relevant as when his novels were first published.
Doku uses cosmopolitan tropes such as avant-garde, discrepant, black, and universal to unravel Du Bois novels as profound and ingenious works simultaneously grounded in idealism and pragmatism.
Generally, cosmopolitanism argues that individuals conflate in a single community and are informed by common moral underpinnings, driven by common economic values, and form political alliances predicated on symbiotic reverence or respect for their progress.
In The Quest of the Silver Fleeceb(1911) good character, patience, truth, beauty, suffering, pain, and redemption unfold through the protagonists’ exhibition of Africana, Hellenistic, and Hebraic values. The protagonists’ appropriation of avant-garde cosmopolitanism culminates in the exposure of Western cultural hegemony and the need to diffuse negative stereotypes assigned to the black body.
Dark Princess: A Romance (1928) is grounded in discrepant cosmopolitanism. In it, Doku argues that cultural parity among African, Asian, and Western cultures is encouraged while white supremacy and ethnocentrism are antagonized as a way of deconstructing Western hegemony. Through the conjugation of two cultures, a black messiah is born, who is given the mantle to help dislocate the black and colored worlds from colonialism and imperialism, even as he addresses racism and class struggle from a global, cosmopolitan viewpoint. Barack Obama epitomizes the black messiah in Dark Princess: A Romance
Last but not least, The Black Flame, a trilogy comprising The Ordeal of Mansart (1957), Mansart Builds a School (1959), and Worlds of Color (1961), is a historical fiction in three volumes that traces African American progress in America from Reconstruction in 1876 to the desegregation of public schools in 1954. Fiery race hatred, the aftermath of slavery, and a look at Pan-Africanism and Pan-Asian ideals are also analyzed with the lens of black cosmopolitanism. Again, Western cultural hegemony is deconstructed as African and Asian nations gain their liberty from colonialism and imperialism. Cosmopolitanism in the Fictive Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward the Humanization of a Revolution Art should be a must-read for scholars, students, critics, researchers, and the general public.


About Dr. Sam Doku
Dr. Samuel O. Doku is a professor and a writer. He earned his Ph.D. in English with concentration in African American Literature from Howard University. He is a W.E.B. Du Bois scholar whose book is titled Cosmopolitanism in the Fictive Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois: Toward the Realization of a Revolutionary Art. His articles have been published on Google Scholar, in the International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities, and College English Association Magazine (CEAMAG).