*Volume currently under contract with Sense.
Series: Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres
Volume: James Baldwin: Challenging Authors
Editors, A. Scott Henderson and P. L. Thomas, Furman University
The recognition and study of African American (AA) artists and public intellectuals often include Martin Luther King, Jr., and occasionally Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, and Malcolm X. The literary canon also adds Ralph Ellison, Richard White, Langston Hughes, and others such as female writers Zora Neale Hurston, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker.
Yet, the acknowledgement of AA artists and public intellectuals tends to skew the voices and works of those included toward normalized portrayals that fit well within foundational aspects of the American myths reflected in and perpetuated by traditional schooling. Further, while many AA artists and public intellectuals are distorted by mainstream media, public and political characterizations, and the curriculum, several powerful AA voices are simply omitted, ignored, including James Baldwin.
This edited volume will invite and gather a collection of essays that confront Baldwin’s impressive canon or writing and his role as a public intellectual while also exploring Baldwin as a confrontational writer, expatriate, civil rights agitator, and openly gay individual during a highly repressive era.
Some of the planned components of the volume include:
Introduction, P. L. Thomas
“James Baldwin’s ‘The Fire Next Time’ and the Jeremiad Tradition,” James Tackach
Recent scholarship suggests that the jeremiad form survived in America for longer than the two hundred years suggested by Bercovitch—and not only in traditional or evangelical Christian churches. Bercovitch, for example, identifies both Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. as practitioners of the form. Two recent books on Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address identify that great speech as a jeremiad in the Puritan tradition. David Howard-Pitney traces the use of the jeremiad in African American rhetoric from abolitionists like David Walker and Frederick Douglass through late-twentieth-century civil rights leaders like King and Jesse Jackson. James Baldwin’s extended 1962 essay on American race relations, “The Fire Next Time,” is certainly another example of the form. Baldwin, who grew up in Harlem churches and, as a teenage “junior minister” delivered sermons, severed his ties with orthodox Christianity in his young adulthood, but its rhetoric stayed with him. In “The Fire Next Time,” Baldwin returns to the rhetoric of the jeremiad to deliver his stinging critique of American race relations.
“James Baldwin, Radical Public Intellectual,” P. L. Thomas
This essay will focus on Baldwin’s non-fiction essays and public talks as they reveal both his biography and his role as a powerful although marginalized radical voice as a public intellectual addressing inequity and race in the U.S.
“Good Minds Versus Critical Minds: Baldwin’s Radical Pedagogical Vision,” A. Scott Henderson
This essay will examine Baldwin’s views toward African American education. Specifically, this chapter will compare Baldwin’s Oct. 1963 address, “A Talk to Teachers” with Ralph Ellison’s Sept. 1963 speech,“What These Children are Like,” placing each of them in historical context. This analysis will reveal that Ellison’s remarks reflected traditional arguments in support of the academic potential of African American children, while Baldwin’s vision, though not refuting Ellison’s opinions, went much further by encouraging teachers to implement a critical pedagogy that would motivate African American students to question basic social, political, and economic assumptions. Such a vision not only anticipated the rise of Afro-centric curricula, but also a more confrontational phase of the American civil rights movement.
Conclusion, A. Scott Henderson
Call for essay proposals DUE: May 15, 2013
Essays accepted: May 31, 2013
Essay drafts DUE: September 20, 2013
Final/ revised essays DUE: November 15, 2013
Final draft submission: December 15, 2013
• Email proposals and then essay drafts as Word attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
• Chapter proposals: 100-word proposals with title, focus (abstract), and additional 50-word author bio
• Once accepted, prepare draft manuscript of about 5000-8000 words using current APA citations