James Baldwin and American Sexuality

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Literary Studies

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Baldwin & American Sexuality

Fall 2019

Taught By: Rich Blint

Section: A

CRN: 7226

Credits: 4

In January 1985, James Baldwin published perhaps his last major essay in Playboy Magazine, “Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood,” which is an extended examination of the impoverished national preoccupation with idealized masculinity in our intensely racialized patriarchial society. For Baldwin, “it is an ideal so paralytically infantile that it is virtually forbidden—as an unpatriotic act—that the American boy evolve into the complexity of manhood.” It is this correlation between the refusal to engage in the process of a necessary growing up, and the American penchant for dawdling in an extended adolescence that provides the focus of this seminar. Through a reading of a number of his novels, essays, short stories, speeches, and interviews, we will consider the troubled career of American sexuality as Baldwin depicted it, and explore the extent to which this failure is at the core of our ongoing racial nightmare. Some of the questions we’ll take up during our brief time together include: How do notions of androgony, cross-racial desire, and revolutionary sexuality impact our understandings of gender norms and freedom? When and how does Baldwin betray his own investment in a discredited masculinity? How do we understand the connections between privacy and public declarations of outlaw sexuality? How does black female sexuality figure in Baldwin’s body of work. At all times our analyses will remain attuned to the complex inflections of race, gender, class and, of course, sexuality.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Literary Studies (LLST)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2019 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 5:52am 1/26/2020 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Tuesday, Thursday

Times: 12:00pm - 1:40pm

Building: Eugene Lang 65 W11th

Room: 458

Date Range: 8/27/2019 - 12/12/2019