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Valentines Special! Giovanni's Room and 'Here be Dragons'

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Thursday 18th February  | 5:30-7pm GMT  | Zoom For our Valentine's week special on Thursday 18th February, we are reading two chapters of Baldwin's 1956 novella Giovanni's Room .  The novella, in non-linear style, narrates the powerful and tragic love story of David, an American in Paris, and Giovanni, an Italian bartender.  We will be reading the second and third chapters of the text.  Chapter 2 sees David recall himself and his friend Jacques as they visit a gay bar, where they meet Giovanni for the first time.  Chapter 3 narrates the continuation of this evening into the morning as the group arrive at a different bar.  While the evening ends with David inside Giovanni's room for the first time, the chapter ends with David, alone in a house in the south of France, contemplating Giovanni's current situation in prison.   With Giovanni's Room we are pairing Baldwin's essay 'Here be Dragons' .  This essay was originally titled 'Freaks and the Ame

The Devil Finds Work and the Banality of Evil

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Thursday 28th January | 5:30-7:00pm | Zoom In our first session of 2021, we turn to ‘Where the Grapes of Wrath are Stored’ (1975), the closing section of James Baldwin’s book of film criticism The Devil Finds Work . Baldwin discusses the process of writing his never-realised Malcolm X screenplay, as well as the fabrication of Billie Holiday’s life in Lady Sings the Blues (1972). In the final paragraphs, Baldwin moves away from biopics to interrogate the iconic horror film The Exorcist (1973).  Baldwin describes ‘the most terrifying thing’ about The Exorcist as being the ‘mindless and hysterical banality of the evil presented’. ‘Banality of evil’ inevitably invokes Hannah Arendt’s coining of the phrase in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). However, Baldwin and Arendt conceptualise evil as banal in alternative ways. To illuminate these differences, we will be pairing Baldwin with Judith Butler’s 2011 reading of Arendt in The Guardian .  Don’t feel that you