About the Screening
“To read James Baldwin is to be read by him, to feel the glow of his affection, the sting of his scorn, the weight of his disappointment, the gift of his trust.” (A. O. Scott, The New York Times)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)—novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet—was one of 20th-century America's most exacting and loving critics. He probed, with forensic insight, bracing vulnerability, sly wit, and peerless lyricism, America’s inability to face up to its brutal history and near pathological preoccupation with race. A black gay man of enormous celebrity, Baldwin implored his readers to confront the meanings, instabilities, and manufactured features of these concrete if abstract identities. “James Baldwin: At Home and Abroad” will present two films: Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris (Terrence Dixon, 1971, 27 minutes, OV), and Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016, 93 minutes, original version with subtitles) as a means of exploring his ongoing relevance to contemporary life.
Shot in Paris in 1970, Meeting the Man finds Baldwin in the City of Light more than two decades after he landed there with forty dollars in his pockets in flight from the deadly perils of Jim Crow America determined to stay alive and to complete the work he was compelled to do. Confronted with a director interested in a surface profile piece, this short film captures Baldwin’s eloquent refusal to be depicted as “some exotic survivor” as he, turn by turn, reorients the cinematic focus on the pressing questions of the day at the close of a decade marred by riots and all those shameful American assassinations. I Am Not Your Negro takes up the lives and murders of Baldwin’s friends and Civil Rights leaders (Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.) largely gleaned from thirty pages of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript (“I Remember this House”), the author’s attempt to confront this painful history. Powerfully narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this rare document connects the motivations of America’s turbulent racial history and present as it explores the very real possibility that violence might, in fact, be the nation’s daily bread.
Photo: Still from "Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris" (1970) ©Buzzy Enterprises
About the Speakers
Rich Blint is a scholar, writer, and curator. He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies, and the Masters Program in Liberal Studies at Dartmouth College. Blint is co-editor of a special issue of African American Review on James Baldwin, and of African American Literature in Transition, 1980-1990 (Cambridge University Press, 2023). Upcoming books include A Radical Interiority: James Baldwin and the Personified Self in Modern American Culture, and Duppy Umbrella and Other Stories. His writing has appeared in Bomb Magazine, African American Review, James Baldwin Review, Anthropology Now, The Believer, McSweeney's, The Brooklyn Rail, sx visualities, and the A-Line: a journal of progressive thought where he serves as editor-at-large. He serves on the Executive Board of African American Review and is a contributing editor to James Baldwin Review. Blint was the 2016-2017 Scholar-in-Residence in the MFA Program in Performance and Performance Studies at Pratt Institute, and a 2017-2018 Visiting Scholar at the Center for Experimental Humanities at New York University. He has been interviewed on a range of topics on outlets including The New York Times, Time, The Brian Lehrer Show, NPR’s ALL OF IT with Alison Stewart, and BBC's The Forum, among others. He has held academic and administrative appointments at the New School, Barnard College, and Columbia University.
Heike Paul holds the Chair of American Studies at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and is a full member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities. In 2003/2004 she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin. She was a visiting scholar at Harvard University, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Dartmouth College, and the Thomas Mann House. Her research interests include the sentimental in literature, culture, and politics; gender studies; contemporary American literature; cultural mobility; tacit knowledge; and African American and African Canadian literature and history. She is the author of The Myths That Made America (Transcript, 2014) and Amerikanischer Staatsbürgersentimentalismus (American Civil Sentimentalism, Wallstein, 2021). In November 2021, she was awarded the Bavarian Maximilian Order for Science and Art, in 2018, she was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize. Since 2017 she is the director of the Bavarian American Academy, she joined the board of the BAA in 2007.
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