Richard Wright—Black Boy Rounds Scholarly Conference Circuit

Author : Kelley Norman

The documentary’s first stop was the Modern Language Association in San Diego, California where it was well-eceived by an audience of more than 200. The panel members were director/writer, Madison Davis Lacy,producer Guy Land, and Wright scholar Keneth Kinnamon of the University of Arkansas. Panelists talked about the process of making the film and an-swered questions for 45 minutes. Appearing as the sole panelist at the Louisville Conference on 20th
Century Literature, Trudier Harris of Emory University made several criti-cal observations, particularly about the
filmic interpretation of Wright’s work. In her opinion, although some drama-tizations distort Wright’s work and lend a false impression to first-time viewers of the texts, the teacher who takes on a more active role as facilitator can make good use of the film. Danielle Taylor-Guthrie, who pre-sented at the plenary session of the
National Association of Humanities Education conference in Cincinnati, Ohio with fellow panelist John M. Reilly of Howard University, thought that the film’s intent—to reveal Wright the man and artist—was also its strength. The film should not be con-sidered a definitive source of literary interpretation, she said. Taylor-Guthrie stated that this film “lays the groundwork and emphasizes key points of Richard Wright’s life without sensationalizing aspects of it, and reveals Wright’s growth as a ma-turing statesman and artist through his works Black Power, Pagan Spain and White Man, Listen!” She also noted that an ironic element was presented to the audience that only the film medium could convey: the disparity between the powerful literary voice of Wright’s written works and the soft speaking voice of the writer, whom few people have heard.

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