A Question

I’m thinking of teaching The Clansman by Thomas Dixon next semester. Dixon was a white supremacist, an admirer of the Confederacy, and a staunch supporter of Jim Crow. The Clansman, the second installment of a trilogy about the post-Civil War South, became the basis of one of the most influential films in cinema history, D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. The novel is replete with racist invective and celebrates the KKK. It is also a historically significant text that provides insight into the ideology of white supremacy and the political uses of the genre of historical romance. Do you think this kind of fiction belongs in the classroom? Would you be interested in reading such a book in one of your courses? If you have any thoughts on this matter please share them, either in the comments field of this post or via email. I appreciate your feedback.

4 thoughts on “A Question

  1. subterraneansatsea

    I don’t get to take your class again, so maybe my opinion doesn’t matter but: I think you would be good as long as you have a solid intro. Why, who, and where you stand personally on the ideology/subject; just to be clear on the goals of the educational mission?

    1. apciv Post author

      That’s a good one. It has the benefit of dramatizing not only white supremacy but resistance against it.

      1. Megan Finch

        Last semester I taught these back to back ( this semester I’m only teaching the latter, which I am regretting). The book, to me, is fascinating in the way that it demonstrates the genre of the Reunion Romance and thus structures the use of white women to replace the slave. As a black woman, I find this text fairly easy to teach because taking the literary and political project and execution (which are inseparable) of the novel seriously does not seems to result in students conflating Dixon and with my own opinions.

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