WR 121: Week 5 Library research, developing paper #2, and Exploring race in America (via James Baldwin's notes on a native son)

Monday's agenda

  • Library workshop - no lecture, we'll meet with a librarian and get started with library research
  • Transforming your topic into a research question
Image Credit: Esquire Magazine

James Baldwin (1924-1987)

Since we'll be talking about Baldwin on Wednesday, I want to give you some background ot help guide your reading and our subsequent discussion. Refer to the discussion guide later in this presentation while reading and preparing for Wednesday's for class.

Considered to be one of the 20th Centuries greatest writers, Baldwin explored race, racism in America, and identity, often through powerful and personal essays. In 1958, Langston Hughes wrote in the New York Times: " I think that one definition of the great artist might be the creator who projects the biggest dream in terms of the least person. There is something in Cervantes or Shakespeare, Beethoven or Rembrandt or Louis Armstrong that millions can understand. . . James Baldwin writes down to nobody, and he is trying very hard to write up to himself. As an essayist he is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing and amusing. And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise and take a bow in disappearing."

Wednesday's Agenda

  • Library Recap & Paper #2 check in
  • Baldwin's Notes on a Native Son
  • MLA citations introduction

Paper #2 Due Date Change: Your papers will be due on Wednesday, Feb 15.

San Diego Museum of Man

History of Race & Racism in United States

  • PBS Timeline
  • Social Constructionism
  • In 1948, he moved to Paris believing that "only outside of the United States could he be read as 'not merely a negro; or, even, merely a negro writer'" (Norton).

DIscussion Guide for notes on a native son

  • Look up confusing terms and historical context.
  • What is meant by the phrase post-racial America?
  • I was reading a review on a new documentary on Baldwin (up for an Academy Award). The author wrote, “The film is a dialectic window into duality; the past compared to the present, the white American experience against the Black American experience.” While the reviewer was speaking on the film, I believe this can easily apply to our reading as well. What do you think this statement means?
  • In-text examples of this “dialectic window into duality”
  • Baldwin states something to the effect that he is not a [n-word]; he is a man. He challenges those in America to think about why they need a [n-words] to exist in the first place. What does he mean by this?

MLA Citation Introduction


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