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Small Acts and Identity

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  Thursday 28th October   | 5.30pm-7.00pm | Zoom/ Parkinson building Seminar Room B.08 We're pleased to announce that our second meeting of the year will pair the introduction to Paul Gilroy's 1996 book S mall Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Culture  and the essay ‘British Cultural Studies and the Pitfalls of Identity’.  Gilroy’s introduction to Small Acts opens a varied collection of essays which reflect on different forms and conditions of black art and culture and their political possibilities, and analyse a particular moment of black British history. The introduction takes culture as the site for the exploration of the debates and political tensions which emerge around the representation and identities of black communities. Organising itself around a critique of ‘ethnic absolutism’, it begins to lay the ground work for a vital discussion of race and culture which challenges the use of homogenous concepts of unity to secure racial identity. Additional reflections on

There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack

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Thursday 7th October | 5.30pm-7.00pm | Zoom For our first meeting of the year, we are going to look at Gilroy's seminal 1987 book There Ain't no Black in the Union Jack . We will be reading Chapter two - '"The whisper wakes, the shudder plays": 'race', nation and ethnic absolutism' - pages 43-72 in the first edition.  Gilroy's first book is centered on race and class, and caused uproar when it was first published for accusing politicians and intellectuals on both sides of the political divide of not taking race seriously. He argues that racism is deeply interwoven with nationalism in Britain, and Chapter two focuses on the capacity of racism to link discourses of patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia, Englishness, Britishness, militarism, and gender difference into a complex system that gives 'race' its contemporary meaning. This recent Guardian long-read article and the interview Gilroy gave after receiving the prestigious Holberg Prize i

Reading Paul Gilroy

We are very pleased to announce the return of interdisciplinary critical and cultural theory reading group Quilting Points for its tenth consecutive year!  This year we will be reading and discussing the work of British historian, writer, and academic Paul Gilroy.  Run by postgraduate researchers in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities, and Cultures, your director this year are Ana García Soriano, Michael Hedges, Ghada Habib, and Evie Lewis.  This year's meetings will take place using a hybrid online and in-person format, with our first meeting of the year being delivered online via Zoom on the 7th of October.  We can't wait to see you all there!  

#baldwin : Special Guest Seminar with Dr Justin A Joyce

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  Thursday 27th May  |  5:30-7:00pm BST  | Zoom For our final Quilting Points meeting of the 2020/21 year we are delighted to be joined by special guest speaker Dr Justin A. Joyce!  Dr Joyce is Research Director for President Dwight A. McBride at The New School (NYC) and is the managing editor of the James Baldwin Review .   After a year of reading Baldwin's work itself, our final session will consider and discuss his enduring legacy and impact on social media, especially on Instagram and Twitter, in regards to Black Lives Matter.  Rather than reading Baldwin, we will be reading a variety of critical voices discussing Baldwin's legacy including Colm Tóibín's 2001 essay 'The Last Witness' , Quentin Miller's coda to The Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (2015) 'The Heart of Baldwin' , Eddie S. Glaude Jr.'s 2017 chapter 'James Baldwin and Black Lives Matter' , Melanie Walsh's 2018 article 'Tweets of a Native Son' , and Justin A.

An Open Letter to My Sister, Miss Angela Davis

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Thursday 6th May  |  5:30-7:00pm BST  | Zoom  Our penultimate meeting will look at James Baldwin's 1971 open letter , published in The New York Review, to Angela Davis. The letter was written by Baldwin to an imprisoned Davis in 1970, where she was being wrongfully held in relation to a courtroom shooting in California where three men and a judge died. She was acquitted in a federal trial in 1972. The letter is written in solidarity with Davis and addresses being black in America, American whiteness, intergenerationality and the American prison system. If you would like to hear Baldwin read the letter, it is available here (from 15:21 on). Alongside the letter, we have chosen to discuss a short section of  Are Prisons Obsolete? (2003) by Angela Davis.   In the second chapter, titled 'Slavery, Civil Rights, and Abolitionist Perspectives Toward Prison' (pp. 22-39), Davis contextualises her discussion of prisons within the history of antiblack racism and injustice in the US, f

Guest Seminar with Dagmawi Woubshet

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  Thursday 15th April  |  5:30-7:00pm BST  | Zoom  For this session, we’re very excited to be joined by a special guest speaker – Professor Dagmawi Woubshet! He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. He has published work on James Baldwin, and taught a module at the University centred on his work. He will be chairing our next meeting, and has selected Little Man Little Man: A Story of Childhood (1976) as the focus of our discussion.  A lesser-known and discussed text, Little Man Little Man is Baldwin’s only children’s book. According to his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, Baldwin was motivated to write a book that ‘dealt with the realities of black childhood’. The story follows TJ, a four-year-old boy, as he navigates the streets of Harlem with his friends, WT and Blinky. Along the way, he encounters various characters that live in the neighbourhood. Initially met with mixed reviews and then out-of-print for roughly four decades, the book has now been republ

Everybody's Protest Novel

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Thursday 11 th March | 5:30-7pm GMT | Zoom   In this session we will consider the protest novel as a genre, beginning with Baldwin’s thoughts from his essay ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’ , published in Notes of a Native Son in 1955. In this essay, he examines the flaws in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin , arguing that it adopts an overly simplistic view of complex racial issues. He then goes on to argue that this is also true of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son . This essay, along with another essay in that same collection (‘Many Thousands Gone’) were partly responsible for a rift between Baldwin and Wright which continued until Wright’s death.   Alongside ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’, we will then read an essay by Richard Wright, ‘How Bigger Was Born’ , which looks at the motivations behind his writing of Native Son . We will consider whether Baldwin’s comments on the novel seem justified in light of this, and what a successful protest novel might look like.   Th