Academic journal article African American Review

James Baldwin: A Special Issue of African American Review

Academic journal article African American Review

James Baldwin: A Special Issue of African American Review

Article excerpt

The work of essayist, novelist, playwright, and critic James Arthur Baldwin (1924-1987), has enjoyed something of a critical renaissance over the last decade. A number of recent conferences, symposia, tributes, and publications have substantially expanded our understanding of Baldwin's contributions, but much of this complex and enigmatic author's career still remains unexplored. This special issue of A frican A merican R eview, the first devoted to Baldwin, invites essays by emerging and established thinkers that extend the critical terrain of Baldwin scholarship. The editors are especially interested in essays that engage Baldwin's under-researched works; pursue new themes in his oeuvre; and inaugurate fresh and multi-disciplinary approaches to more familiar texts.

Nearly twenty-five years after his death, much of Baldwin's body of work is increasingly and newly relevant. Writers including Colm Toibin and Randall Kenan have drawn on Baldwin's life and work to consider the ascendancy of U. S. President Barack Obama and the legacy of the author's prophetic writings. The recent publication of The Cross of Redemption, a volume of previously uncollected reviews, essays, and other writings, will potentially prompt new perspectives on this massive figure. Building on the conference, "James Baldwin's Global Imagination" (February 2011, NYU), this special issue is concerned with the ethical significance of Baldwin s analyses in the context of the present global convulsions of war, economic crises, resurgent attitudes about difference, and the attendant social disintegrations.

As such, we welcome essays that challenge, extend, or re-animate established critical narratives on the author. Essays might consider Baldwin's complex relationship to Africa; his efficacy and concerns as prose stylist or reviewer; his inspiration to black queer studies, alongside his suspicion of the terms "gay" and "homosexual"; his pioneering and at times troubling explorations of race and gender, such as his conversation with Nikki Giovanni in A Dialogue, or his fictional depictions of white women. …

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