Past the memoir
Winifred Dolan beyond the West End
As an actress, producer and teacher, Winifred Dolan (1867–1958) had
a long and varied working life. Leaving professional theatre in 1904,
Dolan later called her time as an actress ‘years of rich experience and
testing endeavour’.1 These words appear in her memoir, A Chronicle
of Small Beer, written in 1949 for private circulation within the school
where Dolan had been employed as a drama teacher and amateur theatre
producer for almost three decades. Here an initial career in professional
Writing about Personal Experiences of Humanitarianism
Róisín Read, Tony Redmond, and Gareth Owen
Humanitarianism has an interesting relationship to memoir. From the foundational role Henri Dunant’s A Memory of Solferino (1862) plays in the origin story of the modern humanitarian movement, to more recent, controversial ‘warts and all’ representations of the practices of humanitarianism, such as Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait and Andrew Thomson’s Emergency Sex (And Other Desperate Measures): True Stories from a Warzone (2006), the impulse to document humanitarian experiences seems strong. Despite something of a boom in the publication of
The Enduring Rage of Baldwin and the Education of a
White Southern Baptist Queer
Delivered in Paris at the 2016 International James Baldwin Conference just two weeks
before the killing of 49 individuals at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida on 26 June
2016, “Relatively Conscious” explores, through the eyes of an LGBT American and the words
of James Baldwin, how separate and unequal life remains for so many within the United
States. Written in the tradition of memoir, it recounts how, just as Paris saved Baldwin
from himself, the writer’s life was transformedupon the discovery of Baldwin.
Filmmaker Karen Thorsen gave us James Baldwin: The Price of the
Ticket, the award-winning documentary that is now considered a
classic. First broadcast on PBS/American Masters in August, 1989—just
days after what would have been Baldwin’s 65th birthday—the film
premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. It was not the film Thorsen
intended to make. Beginning in 1986, she and Baldwin had been collaborating on a
very different film project: a “nonfiction feature” about the
history, research, and writing of Baldwin’s next book, Remember
This House. It was also going to be a film about progress: how far
we had come, how far we still had to go, before we learned to trust our common
humanity. The following memoir explores how and why their collaboration began.
This recollection will be serialized in two parts, with the second installment
appearing in James Baldwin Review’s seventh issue, due
out in the fall of 2021.
Filmmaker Karen Thorsen gave us James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, the award-winning documentary that is now considered a classic. First broadcast on PBS/American Masters in August, 1989—just days after what would have been Baldwin’s sixty-fifth birthday—the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1990. It was not the film Thorsen intended to make. Beginning in 1986, Baldwin and Thorsen had been collaborating on a very different film project: a “nonfiction feature” about the history, research, and writing of Baldwin’s next book, “Remember This House.” It was also going to be a film about progress: about how far we had come, how far we still have to go, before we learn to trust our common humanity. But that project ended abruptly. On 1 December 1987, James Baldwin died—and “Remember This House,” book and film died with him. Suddenly, Thorsen’s mission changed: the world needed to know what they had lost. Her alliance with Baldwin took on new meaning. The following memoir—the second of two serialized parts—explores how and why their collaboration began. The first installment appeared in the sixth volume of James Baldwin Review, in the fall of 2020; the next stage of their journey starts here.
James Baldwin has frequently been written about in terms of his relationship to geographical locations such as Harlem, Paris, St. Paul-de-Vence, Istanbul, and “the transatlantic,” but his longstanding connection to the American South, a region that served as a vexed and ambiguous spiritual battleground for him throughout his life and career, has been little discussed, even though Baldwin referred to himself as “in all but no technical legal fact, a Southerner.” This article argues that the South has been seriously underconsidered as a major factor in Baldwin’s psyche and career and that were it not for the challenge to witness the Southern Civil Rights movement made to Baldwin in the late 1950s, he might never have left Paris and become the writer and thinker into which he developed. It closely examines Baldwin’s fictional and nonfictional engagements with the American South during two distinct periods of his career, from his first visit to the region in 1957 through the watershed year of 1963, and from 1963 through the publication of Baldwin’s retrospective memoir No Name in the Street in 1972, and it charts Baldwin’s complex and often contradictory negotiations with the construction of identity in white and black Southerners and the South’s tendency to deny and censor its historical legacy of racial violence. A few years before his death, Baldwin wrote that “[t]he spirit of the South is the spirit of America,” and this essay investigates how the essential question he asked about the region—whether it’s a bellwether for America’s moral redemption or moral decline—remains a dangerous and open one.
’s memoir Shake Hands with the Devil , gives a searing account of the genocide from the perspective of the commander of the UN contingent ( Dallaire, 2003 ). A range of other non-scholarly texts, both memoirs and collections of testimonies, flesh out the human experience of the genocide.
Rather than giving a comprehensive account of everything published on the genocide since 1999, I want to turn to three specific issues where research has challenged – sometimes in subtle ways – Des Forges’ conclusions in Leave None to Tell .
Questions of Planning
As in his
Benevolencija Rwanda: Grassroots Project Evaluation ( Amsterdam : La Benevolencija – Humanitarian Tools Foundation ).
Kagame , A. ( 1956 ), ‘La philosophie Bantu-Rwandaise de l’être’ . Classe des sciences morales et politiques: Mémoires in 8 .
Nouvelle série, tome xii, fasc. 1 . ( Brussels : Académie royale des sciences colonials ).
Longman , T. ( 2017 ), Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press ).
Macgregor Wise , J. ( 2005 ), ‘Assemblage’ , in Stivale , C. J. (ed.), Gilles Deleuze: Key Concepts
need not apply ( McClintock,
1995 : 22). Such an attitude is evident in the testimonials of assault
survivors ( HWN, 2017 ; Mazurana and Donnelly, 2017 ; Spencer, 2018 ) as well as the common
perception of ‘the field’ as a sexually charged space characterised by
bacchanalian parties and casual sex – famously described in the
much-criticised memoir Emergency Sex (and Other Desperate Measures)
( Cain et al. , 2006 )
– or what one informant wryly
Lessons Learned for Engagement in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States
Activities and Modalities for Resilience Building in South Sudan .
Cochrane Consulting : Ottawa, Canada .
Coghlan , N. ( 2017 ), Collapse of a Country: A Diplomat’s Memoir of South Sudan .
McGill-Queen’s University Press : Montreal and Kingston .
. ( 2010 ), Country Programme Evaluation – Sudan. Evaluation Report EV708
Department for International Development
March 2010 .
. ( 2015 ), Food Security and Livelihoods Assessment in Maban County, Upper Nile .
Danish Refugee Council
January 2015 .
. ( 2017