SEMINAR PROFILE

H13 - 
Fifty Years of African-American Writing: James Baldwin to Lynn Nottage
   
  James Baldwin's collection of short stories, Going to Meet the Man, appeared in 1965. Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize play Sweat premiered in 2015. The works mark off a period in American history of rapidly escalating social, economic, political, and cultural change. In this class we will explore how different moments in this upheaval were felt and assessed in Black America by Baldwin in his stories and Nottage in her play. Baldwin presents humane accounts of black religion, music, encounters with white lawmen, familial and romantic life, and political activism in a year when white America was steadfastly practicing discrimination in housing, education and employment, and when a democratic President and Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. Lynn Nottage writes during America's right-wing backlash to having elected a liberal, Black President who established a government health insurance plan. Her play centers on that backlash, humanely portraying the disintegration of friendships, work-place relations, economic solidarity, and simple fellow-feeling among blue-collar workers gathering in a working-class bar in Reading Pennsylvania. Critique and compassion together create the political urgency in Baldwin's and Nottage's work, and the moral challenge.
       
   
Scholar:
 
Location:
Harvard University-Rosovsky Hall
   
Dates:
3/8/2021, 3/15/2021