n African Journal of Rhetoric - W.E.B. Du Bois and the imagination of the public intellectual

Volume 8 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1998-2054


In this paper, I argue that a robust understanding of the definition, role, and value of the public intellectual ought to begin by contextualizing the history and meaning of the word 'public.' A genealogy of the term, I posit, reveals that the idea of the 'public' has been conceptualized in at least three major ways: as an 'economy of attention,' as a denominator of the 'common;' and as a signifier of the 'political.' The upshot of such an understanding of the public is the manner in which it allows both for the plurality and diversity of public intellectualism, while at the same time offering resources for a rigorous critique of specific public intellectuals. Toward this end, I examine the work and practice of W. E. B. Du Bois as a public intellectual. I argue that Du Bois offers a particularly striking and exemplary illustration of the dialectic between publics and intellectuals.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error