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Week 9

Barack Obama Dreams from my Father (1996)


  • Clearly President Obama’s presence in the media is widespread.  This week I would like everyone to spend a little time browsing online resources to identify one item pertaining to Barack Obama — and specifically to Dreams from my Father — that they find useful and illuminating. Thanks!
  • Think about the ways in which Obama draws on the traditions and conventions of African American autobiographical writing to shape his own story.
  • In what ways does he adhere to these conventions and in what ways does he depart from them?
  • Think about the interface between literature and politics not only in Dreams from My Father but also in the other texts we have studied this term.
  • Identify the prior African-American literary texts that Obama signifies upon. Consider why he uses this "call and response" approach so systematically.
  • What is the effect of the opening?  How does it frame the narrative that follows? And how does it construct not only the presentation of his character but also his sense of his addressee or target readership?


Further Resources

Please find links to two book reviews of The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama by David Remnick:

Robyn recommends the following "highly interesting article called ‘Dreams From Obama’, which discusses amongst other things, the effect of racial issues in Obama’s presidential campaign and discusses matters raised in both Dreams From My Father and The Audacity Of Hope":