James Baldwin is one of the most oft-quoted American writers. Daily one can find a quote from Baldwin that addresses the present conditions not only in the United States but also in the world. His fiction and nonfiction writings paved the way for subsequent generations of American writers as he broke the silences and boundaries and became foundational in what later became queer literature. As a master of the essay, Baldwin’s unabashed assessment of U.S. race relations predicts civil unrest, rebellions, and the rise of the discontent.
During this class, you will engage in close readings of two of Baldwin’s novels and two of his essay collections to examine how his early works undergird his entire body of work and serve as a lens through which to assess Baldwin’s impact on American letters and our collective consciousness.
We will cover Baldwin’s works chronologically. Students can prepare or read the text in a way that best suits them. Although reading before the discussion occurs is what I recommend. Here is the order of the readings:
- Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) ...
- Notes of a Native Son (1955) ...
- Giovanni's Room (1956) ...
- The Fire Next Time (1963) ...
Four Saturdays: February 5, 12, 19, 26, from 12 to 2 p.m. EST Online
Go Tell It on the Mountain and Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin (9781883011512)
Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin (9781883011529)
Michele L. Simms-Burton, PhD is a former tenured university professor and founding board member of the Toni Morrison Society. Her writings have appeared in The Crisis Magazine, DownBeat, D.C. Metro Theater Arts, Auburn Avenue, and San Francisco Chronicle. She has lectured globally on African American culture.
REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.