RIT Scholar Investigates Evolution of Black Identity in Literature

Sharon Beckford-Foster receives fellowship to study works of noted author Richard Wright

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Sharon Beckford-Foster

Sharon Beckford-Foster, visiting assistant professor of English at Rochester Institute of Technology, will conduct one of the first studies designed to enhance critical understanding of the writings and ideology of noted African-American author Richard Wright and promote his continued influence on modern notions of black identity and self-determination.

Beckford-Foster has been awarded an African-American Studies Fellowship from the Black Metropolis Research Consortium to conduct the study “Richard Wright and His Modeling of West Indians as Modern Citizens.” She will review Wright’s short stories, novels and essays as well as his many statements on the evolution of black society at the turn of the 20th century and evaluate how modernism impacted how West Indians, and black people in general, were viewed by themselves and society as a whole.

“Richard Wright was a leading figure in American literature from the 1930s through the 1950s, a prominent member of the Chicago School of black writers, artists and reformers and very influential on the development of the black pride and Civil Rights Movement,” notes Beckford-Foster. “Through an analysis of his writings, I hope to create a better understanding of Wright’s theories on the differences among blacks from America, the Caribbean and Africa and how he used these to fashion a model of the modern black citizen.”

The African-American Studies Fellowship is sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation and is awarded to scholars conducting innovative research in black history, sociology and culture. The Black Metropolis Research Consortium, hosted by the University of Chicago, is an association of libraries, universities and archives dedicated to promoting African-American and African culture. To learn more about the consortium go to www.blackmetropolisresearch.org.