James Baldwin – Reading & Discussion Group

May 23, 2019 to June 20, 2019 - 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Funded by Humanities New York and facilitated by Dr. Patricia E. Clark, ArtRage will offer a 5-week reading and discussion group on the writings of James Baldwin, free of charge to the first 15 people who register by email.  The group runs every Thursday from 7-8:30pm beginning on May 23rd and ending on June 20th. Books will be provided on loan from Humanities New York and can be picked up, along with the group syllabus, on May 9th at ArtRage.

James Baldwin’s contention that the writer is positioned “elsewhere” aptly characterizes his status as an author whose most trenchant criticisms and astute analyses of the United States were mostly written in another country. Ironically, as the penultimate “outsider”—as Negro, as homosexual, and as expatriate—Baldwin was able to probe and to dissect the very soul of humanity to create art that forces us to question longstanding assumptions that justify racial, sexual, ethnic, gender, caste and other categories of difference that undermine the very idea and foundation of a democracy. With contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter and #Me Too in the forefront addressing issues of discrimination, oppression, and violence against communities of “others,” it is especially pertinent to examine what Baldwin has to say about race, nation, and gender through a twenty-first century lens. Our group will read selected essays, short stories, and a novel and ponder what remains instructive or cautionary in Baldwin’s works for contemporary readers.

Dr. Patricia E. Clark is Interim Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and an associate professor of English and African/African American Studies. She teaches courses on 20th century and contemporary African American and U.S. literature, Black women writers, and seminars on James Baldwin at the State University of New York at Oswego since 2002.

Her published and forthcoming work focuses on foodways and aurality/oralitiy in the U.S. African diaspora, specifically how gender, ethnicity, and national identities are understood through narratives about food practices and, more recently, sound. Her work has appeared in Callaloo (“Archiving Epistemologies and the Narrativity of Recipes in Ntozake Shange’s Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo”), Stone Canoe (“Black Soundtrack, White Movie”), and a chapter (“Cookbooks, Cuisines, and Black Nationalisms”) in Gendering Global Transformations, published by Routledge.