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Recap: Black Literary Suite—Wikipedia Edition

[By Kenton Rambsy]

The Project on the History of Black Writing teamed up with
the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of
Kansas to host its latest Black Literary Suite (BLS) from March 15- April 27.
The most recent suite focused on Wikipedia and African American Literature.
In the “100 Novels Project,” 49 of the novels have Wikipediapages. “The Black Literary Suite: Wikipedia Edition” examined the particular
ways in which the online website presents the novels. Keeping with our presentation
format, the exhibit was a walk-through exhibit where spectators were able to
use MP3 players to guide themselves, independently, through 14 panels.

Numerous studies have attested to the validity of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia’s influence on larger audiences perceptions of African American
literature is notable especially considering how the internet plays a
significant part in how readers access information about black writers. For
instance, try entering “Richard Wright” or “Toni Morrison” into a Google search
and within the first two hits, Wikipedia will appear.
What is the significance of this, though? The information
provided on Wikipedia about black writers, their early lives, their education,
their publication histories, their political views, etc. shapes how readers
interpret the legacy of these writers. In addition, the ability of Wikipedia to
link to black novels also has an effect on how readers interpret plots,
characters, and settings of a particular novel.
Below, are pictures from the latest BLS.