“James Baldwin’s America: Both Light and Dark” Reading & Discussion Series

September 22, 2021 – November 17, 2021 all-day
Lewis Latimer House Museum
3441 137th St
Flushing, NY 11354
Ran Yan
"James Baldwin's America: Both Light and Dark" Reading & Discussion Series @ Lewis Latimer House Museum | New York | United States

To celebrate Baldwin’s life and work, Lewis Latimer House Museum hosts a special virtual Reading & Discussion program for adults this fall.

About this event
Participants are welcome to join any number of the five virtual sessions. This series takes place biweekly on Wednesday evenings in September – November 2021.

Sep 22 – Baldwin’s Fire-Baptized Truth: Notes on a Native Son

What does it mean to be American? Reading excerpts from essays “Everybody’s Protest Novel,” “Many Thousand Gone,” “Carmen Jones” and “The Harlem Ghetto,” we will discuss Baldwin’s speaking truth to the power of America’s myths, stories and media, which often obscures and warps the realities of the daily lives of Americans, especially Black Americans.

Oct 6 – Baldwin’s Fire-Baptized Truth: Nobody Knows My Name

What does it mean to be American? Continuing Baldwin’s exploration of the constructions and delusions within American mythos, and the contradictions and complexities of American identity, we will read excerpts from essays like “The Discovery of What It Means to Be American,” and “In Search of a Majority.”

Oct 20 – Baldwin’s Fire-Baptized Truth: Fire Next Time

Reading the two letters in Fire Next Time, we will discuss how Baldwin’s letter-writing is a variation on the theme of the “voice in the wilderness,” and a continuation of the Black prophetic tradition.

Nov 3 – Baldwin’s Fire-Baptized Truth: Queer Theology

Further utilizing themes from Baldwin’s essay, “Down At the Cross,” and referencing the work of Ashon Crawley, we will look at stories and essays, like “Sonny’s Blues,” “The Outing,” “Notes on a Native Son,” and “Male Prison,” to discuss queerness, gender norms, and the erotic in Black community, the Black church, and Black music within Baldwin’s work.

Nov 17 – Baldwin’s Fire Baptized Truth: To Be Pentecostal Preacher and A Questioning Artist

Despite not having as much of a focus in many studies about Baldwin, his religious, specifically Pentecostal, background influenced and shaped much of his writing. We will look at previous works and excerpts from Go Tell It On the Mountain to discuss how the tensions between religion and art shaped much of Baldwin’s views on truth and love, and how the two shape our current cultural politics.


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