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Lynn Orilla Scott

James Baldwin criticism from 2001 through 2010 is marked by an increased appreciation for Baldwin’s entire oeuvre including his writing after the mid 1960s. The question of his artistic decline remains debated, but more scholars find a greater consistency and power in Baldwin’s later work than previous scholars had found. A group of dedicated Baldwin scholars emerged during this period and have continued to host regular international conferences. The application of new and diverse critical lenses—including cultural studies, political theory, religious studies, and black queer theory—contributed to more complex readings of Baldwin’s texts. Historical and legal approaches re-assessed Baldwin’s relationship to the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and new material emerged on Baldwin’s decade in Turkey. Some historical perspective gave many critics a more nuanced approach to the old “art” vs. “politics” debate as it surfaced in Baldwin’s initial reception, many now finding Baldwin’s “angry” work to be more “relevant” than “out of touch” as it was thought of during his lifetime. In the first decade of the new millennium, three books of new primary source material, a new biography, four books of literary criticism, three edited collections of critical essays, two special issues of journals and numerous book chapters and articles were published, marking a significant increase not only in the quantity, but the quality of Baldwin criticism.

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Ernest L. Gibson

James Baldwin might be imagined as reaching his greatest level of popularity within this current decade. With the growth of social media activist movements like Black Lives Matter, which captures and catalyzes off a Baldwinian rage, and the publishing of works directly evoking Baldwin, his voice appears more pronounced between the years of 2013 and 2015. Scholars in Baldwin studies, along with strangers who were turned into witnesses of his literary oeuvre, have contributed to this renewed interest in Baldwin, or at least have been able to sharpen the significance of the phenomenon. Publications and performances highlight Baldwin’s work and how it prefigured developments in critical race and queer theories, while also demonstrating Baldwin’s critique as both prophetic and “disturbingly” contemporary. Emerging largely from Baldwin’s timelessness in social and political discourse, and from the need to conjure a figure to demystify the absurd American landscape, these interventions in Baldwin studies follow distinct trends. This essay examines the 2013–15 trends from four vantages: an examination of a return, with revision, to popular work by Baldwin; identifying Baldwin’s work as a contributor to theoretical and critical methodology; Baldwin and intertextuality or intervocality; and a new frontier in Baldwin studies.

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"Something Unspeakable"

James Baldwin and the "Closeted-ness" of American Power

David Jones

This article reads the work of James Baldwin in dialogue with that of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Taking its cue from Baldwin’s claim that Americans “live […] with something in [their] closet” that they “pretend […] is not there,” it explores his depiction of a United States characterized by the “closeted-ness” of its racial discourse. In doing so, the article draws on Sedgwick’s work concerning how the containment of discourses pertaining to sexuality hinges on the closeting of non-heteronormative sexual practices. Reconceptualizing Sedgwick’s ideas in the context of a black, queer writer like Baldwin, however, problematizes her own insistence on the “historical gay specificity” of the epistemology she traces. To this end, this article does not simply posit a racial counterpart to the homosexual closet. Rather, reflecting Baldwin’s insistence that “the sexual question and the racial question have always been entwined,” I highlight here the interpretive possibilities opened up by intersectional analyses that view race, sexuality, and national identity as coextensive, reciprocal epistemologies.  

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Reading and Theorizing James Baldwin

A Bibliographic Essay

Conseula Francis

Readers and critics alike, for the past sixty years, generally agree that Baldwin is a major African-American writer. What they do not agree on is why. Because of his artistic and intellectual complexity, Baldwin’s work resists easy categorization and Baldwin scholarship, consequently, spans the critical horizon. This essay provides an overview of the three major periods of Baldwin scholarship. 1963–73 is a period that begins with the publication of The Fire Next Time and sees Baldwin grace the cover of Time magazine. This period ends with Time declaring Baldwin too passé to publish an interview with him and with critics questioning his relevance. The second period, 1974–87, finds critics attempting to rehabilitate Baldwin’s reputation and work, especially as scholars begin to codify the African-American literary canon in anthologies and American universities. Finally, scholarship in the period after Baldwin’s death takes the opportunity to challenge common assumptions and silences surrounding Baldwin’s work. Armed with the methodologies of cultural studies and the critical insights of queer theory, critics set the stage for the current Baldwin renaissance.

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The power of vulnerability

Mobilising affect in feminist, queer and anti-racist media cultures

Edited by: Anu Koivunen, Katariina Kyrölä and Ingrid Ryberg

The power of vulnerability interrogates the new language of vulnerability that has emerged in feminist, queer and anti-racist debates about the production, use and meanings of media. The book investigates the historical legacies and contemporary forms and effects of this language. In today’s media culture, traumatic first-person or group narratives have popular currency, mobilising affect from compassion to rage to gain cultural visibility and political advantage. In this context, vulnerability becomes a kind of capital, a resource or an asset that can and has been appropriated for various groups and purposes in public discourses, activism as well as cultural institutions. Thus, politics of representation translates into politics of affect, and the question about whose vulnerability counts as socially and culturally legible and acknowledged. The contributors of the book examine how vulnerability has become a battleground; how affect and vulnerability have turned into a politicised language for not only addressing but also obscuring asymmetries of power; and how media activism and state policies address so-called vulnerable groups. While the contributors investigate the political potential as well as the constraints of vulnerability for feminist, queer and antiracist criticism, they also focus on the forms of agency and participation vulnerability can offer.

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Tropes of yearning and dissent

The inflection of desire in Yvonne Vera and Tsitsi Dangarembga

Elleke Boehmer

’s sexuality, especially in so far as sexuality remains the dark secret of the Third World nation. Queer sexuality, in point of fact, probably still constitutes what could best be termed a virtual nonpresence, or at least a covert silencing, an ‘unsaying’, in postcolonial discourses generally and in African writing in particular.3 It is a surprising omission or occlusion considering that, since the 1960s, postcolonial theory and criticism have grown up in tandem with the emergence of a politics of identity and cultural difference, and are deeply informed by discourses of

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Series:

Catherine Baker

the footsteps of eastern European feminists using postcolonial theory to explain how post-Cold-War western European feminists had marginalised eastern European women's perspectives (Slavova 2006 ; Cerwonka 2008 ; Tlostanova 2010 ). Robert Kulpa and Joanna Mizielińska's volume De-Centring Western Sexualities (Kulpa and Mizielińska (eds) 2011 ) fitted into a wider queer postcolonial studies framework in critiquing assumptions about ‘eastern Europe lagging behind the West’ (i.e. assumptions that Western trajectories of LGBTQ politics were the most advanced or

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Naming, shaming, framing?

The ambivalence of queer visibility in audio- visual archives

Dagmar Brunow

. (2010). ‘We’re here! We’re queer? Activist archives and archival activism’, Lambda Nordica, 15:3–​4, pp. 90–​118. Derrida, J. (1996). Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression, tr. Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Dewdney, A., D. Dibosa and V. Walsh (2013). Post-​Critical Museology: Theory and Practice in the Art Museum. London and New York: Routledge. Edenheim, S. (2014). ‘Lost and never found: The queer archive of feelings and its historical property’, A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 24:5, pp. 36–​62. Eivergård, M. and A. Furumark (eds) (2017

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Anu Koivunen, Katariina Kyrölä and Ingrid Ryberg

if vulnerability is seen to characterise us all equally, again the uneven distribution of violence and injury between bodies can be left without adequate attention. What does it mean, to quote Judith Butler (2016: 25), if vulnerability is figured as ‘an existential condition’, a universal and shared human-​animal ontology of us all, or ‘a socially induced condition’ that characterises some bodies more than others? Within feminist and queer theory, as well as more broadly in the humanities and social sciences, the interest in vulnerability draws on ‘turns’ to

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Jamie Heckert

‘universal truths’ of dualism were imposed upon local knowledges through Western imperialism), sociology and queer theory (e.g., Seidman 1996, 1997). It is essential that anarchism also take into account criticisms of dualism. This has been taken up in certain respects, for example, the anarchist critique of the work/play division (e.g., Bowen, 1997). Here I suggest we should understand anarchism as Sexuality/identity/politics 103 a theory and practice that promotes the development of non-hierarchical social organisation. Hierarchy does not exist only in the public