The mission of my Senior Capstone class at DePaul University was to dissect one poem over the course of 10 weeks, culminating with a project that displays a comprehensive, interdisciplinary reading of the poem and its context. This what we were given to work with:
When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.
Hayden states concretely that Frederick Douglass “shall be remembered”, and he indeed has been, being the topic of many works over time. Douglass has become a sort of figure-head for freedom and liberty itself, and over the years, the depictions of Douglass in different literary works are molded to fit the times. This website aims to examine how Douglass has transcended from a man to a symbol for freedom, and how literary works brought him to that transcendence.