Amid the Fall, Dreaming of Eden: Du Bois, King, Malcolm X, and Emancipatory Composition

By Bradford T. Stull | Go to book overview

2
The Fall

We have not developed the language by which to recognize the extent or the implications of the division.

-- Wendell Berry, The Hidden Wound

"The Fall," as a trope, alludes to the story of Adam and Eve, to that narrative double moment: humankind expelled from peace and union with all that is, humankind thrown into a world of violence and division. To know this phrase is to be able to begin to function maturely in the American republic, which is prerequisite for emancipatory composition. The Fall deeply informs American discourse in general and American discourse about the color line in particular.

Certainly, one must immediately ask this question: What does it mean to know the Fall? Or, phrased differently, more pointedly, what does the Fall mean? To what does it allude?

The most immediate association is with the Book of Genesis. In Eden, Adam and Eve walk naked with the Lord God and all the animals of the earth, sharing the garden in blissful harmony. With the bite of the fruit from the one tree made taboo, however, Adam and Eve deliver themselves into the post-Edenic world. Here, the Bible tells its readers, Adam and Eve are immediately condemned to interspecies strife (3:15), painful childbirth and gender hierarchy (3:16), hard labor (3:17-18), and death (3:19). A host of other events follow quickly upon the curse: Cain kills Abel; new races of humans that are divided from each other, and God, arise; God floods Noah's world; new races of humans attempt to build the Tower of Babel and are crushed, divided linguistically by a jealous God.

Thus, one could legitimately approach the Fall biblically. Certainly, many Americans encounter the Fall this way through the sermons, liturgies, and prayers of their churches and synagogues. These institutions promote a literacy in which the Fall is an important ele-

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Amid the Fall, Dreaming of Eden: Du Bois, King, Malcolm X, and Emancipatory Composition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter 1 Emancipatory Composition 1
  • Chapter 2 The Fall 21
  • Chapter 3 The Orient 48
  • Chapter 4 Africa 74
  • Chapter 5 Eden 99
  • Chapter 6 Conclusion 120
  • Notes 129
  • Works Cited 139
  • Index 143
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