W.E.B. Du Bois’ the quest of the silver fleece: The education of black medea

Jackie Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


W.E.B. Du Bois was born in 1868, five years after the emancipation proclamation, and in the same year in which the American Philological Association was founded. He died in 1963, five years before the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. He studied Classics at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville, TN, graduating in 1888 to go on to Harvard College to take a second BA because Harvard did not accept credits from Fisk. As the sixth African American to graduate with a BA from Harvard, Du Bois received a scholarship to attend the University of Berlin. In Germany, he studied history and the new discipline Sociology. Returning to the US Du Bois graduated in 1892 as the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University. He taught Classics at Wilberforce University and Atlanta University, and was committed to the promotion of a liberal arts education among African Americans to address the demands for a class of professionals who could serve the needs of the Black Community. A prolific author and powerful activist for civil rights, he lived in a tumultuous time. This paper explores how his classical education shaped his first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece, in profound ways. It traces how the novel reflects Du Bois’ views in Souls of Black Folk on themes of Black higher education, Black leadership, women’s equality, anti-racism and anti-capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S143-S162
JournalTransactions of the American Philological Association
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Society for Classical Studies.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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