Showing posts from 2021

Steve McQueen's "Small Axe"

  Thursday 9th December | 5.30-7.00pm | Parkinson building B.08 & Zoom We are very pleased to announce that for our last meeting of the calendar year we will be 'reading' an episode from Steve McQueen's widely celebrated series Small Axe.  We will be watching the 'Alex Wheatle' episode in which McQueen details the true story of award-winning writer Alex Wheatle. The episode explores Wheatle's younger life including the time he spent in prison during the Brixton uprising of 1981.  The episode can be found on BBC iPlayer here We will deliver this meeting in a hybrid format over  Zoom and on campus in the Parkinson Building, seminar room B.08.  To join us online for this meeting and to receive a reminder about the session  please email Ghada at to be added to the mailing list, through which you will receive the Zoom link. 

"Paul Gilroy: Freedom Struggles" and "Black Lives Matter but slavery isn’t our only narrative"

  Thursday 18th November   | 5.30pm-7.00pm | Zoom/  Business School Maurice Keyworth SR (1.33)  We're pleased to announce that our third meeting of the year will pair Surviving Society 's Podcast " Paul Gilroy: Freedom Struggles " and an interview between Aretha Phiri and Michelle M Wright "Black Lives Matter but slavery isn’t our only narrative" . " Paul Gilroy: Freedom Struggles" focuses on the discussion of two of Gilroy’s most known texts Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness (1993); and Between Camps: Nations, Cultures and the Allure of Race (2004). This episode of Surviving Society challenges the idea of ‘generic blackness’ in the configuration of plural communities and contemporary black identities."Paul Gilroy: Freedom Struggles" also explores the role which technology plays in the creation of archives. It also addresses the presence of intergenerational gaps which illustrate how different generations have a uniqu

Small Acts and Identity

  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

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

  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

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

  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

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

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

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

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