The Philosophy Behind A Raisin in the Sun


A landmark of American and African-American theater since its debut on Broadway in 1959 and as a Hollywood film in 1961, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is a disarmingly simple play that uses traditional techniques to craft a revolutionary message. It is also an extremely subtle work whose meaning lies largely in its unspoken sub-texts, assumed con-texts, and unacknowledged co-texts. This course will explore some of the implicit philosophical influences — including Aritotle’s Poetics and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex as well as the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus — that form part of the foundation beneath Hansberry’s work. We will also consider some of Hansberry’s thoughts about her own art. Students may wish to see Court Theatre’s concurrent production of A Raisin in the Sun in conjunction with this course and/or prepare for the course by taking the preceding course, “A Raisin in the Sun Deep Dive”.

  • Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun
  • Aristotle, Poetics
  • Beauvoir, The Second Sex
  • Priest (ed.), Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings
  • Camus, The Rebel
  • Additional Handouts