Robert Jackson

This article provides an introduction to this special section of James Baldwin Review 7 devoted to Baldwin and film. Jackson considers Baldwin’s distinct approach to film criticism by pairing him with James Agee, another writer who wrote fiction as well as nonfiction in several genres, and who produced a large body of film criticism, especially during the 1940s. While Agee, a white southerner born almost a generation before Baldwin, might seem an unlikely figure to place alongside Baldwin, the two shared a great deal in terms of temperament and vision, and their film writings reveal a great deal of consensus in their diagnoses of American pathologies. Another important context for Baldwin’s complex relationship to film is television, which became a dominant media form during the 1950s and exerted a great influence upon both the mainstream reception of the civil rights movement and Baldwin’s reception as a public intellectual from the early 1960s to the end of his life. Finally, the introduction briefly discusses the articles that constitute this special section.

James Baldwin Review
A Conversation with Bill V. Mullen, the author of James Baldwin: Living in Fire
William J. Maxwell and Bill V. Mullen

William J. Maxwell, editor of James Baldwin: The FBI File (2017), interviews Bill V. Mullen on his 2019 biography, James Baldwin: Living in Fire, along the way touching on both Baldwin’s early internationalism and his relevance to the current wave of racial discord and interracial possibility in the United States.

James Baldwin Review
Terrance Dean

Reading works on Baldwin from 2017 to 2019, the author tracks the significance of Baldwin within the Black Lives Matter movement and our growing need for police reform in conjunction with a revaluation of the lives of racial and ethnic minorities within the oppressive systemic biases of American social and political life.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Justin A. Joyce

Recalling the insurrectionary violence that descended upon the US Capitol on 6 January 2021, reflecting on the baser instincts left unchecked in America by an absence of common communication and a paradigmatic shift in our media apparatuses, Justin A. Joyce introduces the seventh volume of James Baldwin Review.

James Baldwin Review
Open Access (free)
Begin Again, A Review Essay
Herb Boyd

This review essay examines Eddie Glaude, Jr.’s new book Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own against several other recent works on Baldwin such as Bill Mullen’s James Baldwin: Living in Fire and Nicholas Buccola’s The Fire Is Upon Us.

James Baldwin Review
Or, get off the beach
Ingrid Horrocks

This chapter outlines a model for re-reading European-authored travel texts of the nineteenth century (and potentially travel writing more generally) that aims to move beyond an approach to their aesthetics shaped by moments of arrival and meeting, and prospect views. It takes a mobilities studies approach and focuses on the example of the ‘pedestrian tour’ in Augustus Earle’s Narrative of Nine Months’ Residence in New Zealand, in 1827 (1832). The chapter asks what different understandings of history and coeval ‘life worlds’ might emerge when we pay attention to mundane, local, and embodied movements within texts such as Earle’s – movements of both the European traveller(s) in the text and of Indigenous peoples, in this case Māori. It pays particular attention to what happens when we read mobility within prose travel texts alongside – and to an extent against – the more dominant worldings evoked by the visual art of pre-colonial and early colonial periods.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Race, class, and poetry in a South American colony
Jason Rudy, Aaron Bartlett, Lindsey O'Neil, and Justin Thompson

Hundreds of white supremacist working-class Australians settled in Paraguay at the end of the nineteenth century, establishing a community there called Colonia Cosme. In the poetry and song of their newspaper, the Cosme Monthly, these settler colonialists reflected on the racial and class dynamics of their community, imagining affinities between their community, the defeated American Confederacy, and the White Australia policy that would accompany Australian Federation at the turn of the century. Blackface minstrelsy in particular played an important role in the colony’s cultural life, helping to establish a retrograde sense of belonging in a place largely inhospitable to their efforts. This essay considers how the Australians in Paraguay used genre and medium to fix racist identifications at the heart of their colonial culture.

in Worlding the south
Open Access (free)
Southern worlds, globes, and spheres
Sarah Comyn and Porscha Fermanis

The introduction to this collection proposes a new literary history of the Anglophone southern hemisphere in the long nineteenth century. Drawing on the methodologies of ‘worlding’, southern theory, hemispheric analysis, and Indigenous studies, it rethinks the conceptual paradigms, periodisations, and canons of the nineteenth-century ‘British world’ by focusing on southern cultural perspectives in multiple regional centres from Cape Town to the Pacific Islands. Adopting a perspective that Isabel Hofmeyr has called a ‘southern latitude’, it argues for the importance of considering the shared and interconnected histories of imperialism, colonialism, and structural inequality that shape the literatures and experiences of the peoples of the southern colonies, deprioritising Eurocentric orientations and identities in favour of southern viewpoints and south–south relations across a complex of oceanic and terracentric spaces. Considering each of the chapters within the collection as part of a related unit of literary and cultural analysis, its aim is to produce a more inclusive literary model of the nineteenth century that takes into account southern histories of cultural estrangement and marginalisation and draws its proof-texts from so-called ‘minor’ and ‘minority’ writers, as well as identifying shared thematic concerns, literary forms and tropes, and aesthetic and stylistic practices that are distinctive to the region.

in Worlding the south
An unexpected text in an unexpected place
Michelle Elleray

In 1850 the London Missionary Society published ‘Kiro’s Thoughts about England’, consisting of translated and abridged excerpts from the travel journal of Kiro, a Cook Islander from the South Pacific who had arrived in England in 1847. Originally intended for Cook Islanders, through its publication in the Juvenile Missionary Magazine Kiro’s journal instead becomes a narrative for British children. Kiro’s writing prompts us to consider how we are to read literary texts by peoples disempowered through imperial processes, when those texts are only deemed worthy of publication and preservation through their conformity with the dominant structures of power, in this case the London Missionary Society and its British Protestant norms. How do we wrest such texts from the evangelical framework that enabled their publication? How do we position the text’s observance of evangelical expectations within a spectrum from accommodation to consent? What work is done by the editor’s silent selections and elisions in the process of publication? In disentangling Kiro’s text from a pervasive British missionary ontology, this essay demonstrates the agency of Pacific Islanders as they negotiated the new technology of alphabetic literacy, a literacy accessed through Christianity, but not restricted to the cultural parameters of British evangelicalism.

in Worlding the south
Clara Tuite

This chapter engages the rich social, linguistic, and aesthetic repertoire of the flash (originally a cant language of thieves and convicts), using the convict phenomenon of ‘lag fever’ to complicate the idea of colonial belatedness in Australia. It argues that the flash language of thieves, gypsies, and convicts can be understood as an early kind of ‘world language’ that connected underclasses with upper classes within and across metropolitan Regency London and the southern climes and convict spaces of colonial Australia (Botany Bay, Newcastle, and Van Diemen’s Land). Connecting genealogies of masculine style and self-fashioning, and print-visual form, with the social arenas of fashionability, respectability, exile, convictism, and settler culture across Britain, Ireland, Europe, and Australia, this chapter throws new light on the liminal yet transformative Regency cultures of scandalous celebrity, exile, and convictism.

in Worlding the south