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Lectures and Presentations
  by Robert W. Williams


Over the years I have prepared and delivered various presentations on W.E.B. Du Bois. Not all of the lectures have been created to be online-accessible. On this page I provide links to my public talks on various topics relevant to Du Bois's thought and activism.

My biography and C.V. (with a list of my other presenta­tions and publi­ca­tions) also are located on this website.

A Note on Presentation Formats: Several of the talks are formatted as hyper­text presentations. I created the hypertext format as a browser-based application using Javascript and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for its features and functionality. Because I continuously update and upgrade the hypertext application, talks presented earlier may not have the same features as those that I presented later. The Navigation Help page lists the available functions of each hyper­text presentation; this information is found on the second page after the start page.


"Embracing Philosophy: On Du Bois's 'The Individual and Social Conscience'" — Presentation at the Du Bois 50th Anni­ver­sary Com­mem­o­ra­tive Con­ference, 2013
In February 2013 Clark Atlanta University, under the leadership of Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans, convened the W.E.B. Du Bois 50th Anniversary Commemorative Conference. I presented a paper entitled "Embracing Philosophy: On Du Bois's 'The Individual and Social Conscience'". This talk is my first discussion of the IASC in a public forum. Before speak­ing I provided an outline to the audience. I subsequently elaborated upon that lecture, which was published in Phylon. The amplified OUTLINE version is housed on this site. I provide more details on the outline page.
"W.E.B. Du Bois and the Paradox of Democracy" — Presen­ta­tion at Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, 2015
My presentation was part of the Bennett College Faculty Lec­ture Series, which I delivered on 22 January 2015. I ad­dressed the topic of "W.E.B. Du Bois and the Paradox of Democracy", focusing on "Of the Ruling of Men" (Chap­ter VI in his Dark­water). I outlined Du Bois's sup­port of ex­tend­ing the fran­chise and of widen­ing the scope of cit­izen par­tici­pa­tion over large-scale industries. In my hypertext PRESENTATION I dis­cussed the importance of "Ruling" with regard to Du Bois's con­tributions to demo­crat­ic theorizing, including his con­cept of unknowability. Note that this presen­tation uses an earlier version of the hyper­text format and thus con­tains some­what less func­tion­al­ity than later versions.  [I posted this pre­sen­ta­tion for the 15 April 2017 update.]
"W.E.B. Du Bois on Scientific Knowledge and Its Limits" — Presen­ta­tion at the 120th Anniversary of the Atlanta Socio­log­i­cal Laboratory, 2016
The Department of the Sociology and Criminal Justice at Clark Atlanta University hosted the "Symposium Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory and the Work of W.E.B. Du Bois" on 25 February 2016. I titled my talk "W.E.B. Du Bois on Scientific Knowl­edge and Its Limits". I developed a typology of knowl­edge claims found in Du Bois's texts, including current and future knowl­edge, uncertain knowl­edge, and that which is fundamentally unknowable. My PRESENTATION is available herein as a web-based hypertext.
"The Intertextuality of Du Bois's Idea of Humanity: A Collation Analysis" — Presen­ta­tion at the 30th Symposium on African American Culture and Philosophy, 2016.
The African American Studies and Research Center at Purdue Uni­versity hosted this symposium on 1-3 December 2016. The theme of the symposium was "Exploring the 'Humanity' in the Digital Humanities". This hypertext PRESENTATION used collation software to highlight the inter­con­nec­tions between two sets of Du Bois's works. I argued that his concept of humanity was not exhausted by any one text: indeed, the concept expanded its analytical and geo-historical scope in the context of world events, such as World War One. I include this lecture as part of my continuing projects on Du Bois from the perspectives of the digital humanities.
"W.E.B. Du Bois at the Horizon of History and Sociology" — Presen­ta­tion at the Second Annual Conference of the African American Intellectual History Society, 2017.
Organized by the African American Intellectual History Society, this con­ference was held at Vanderbilt Uni­ver­sity on 24-25 March 2017. In my hypertext PRESENTATION I argued that, for Du Bois, what we cannot know (nescience) is as important as what we can know about now or in the future. I recon­structed Du Bois's under­standing of the rela­tion­ship of science with nesc­ience in terms of what we can know about and what we can know directly. I also examined the impli­ca­tions of DuBoisian ne/science for scholarly research, politics, and activism.