English 243N

Prose Nonfiction Writing Workshop: Wright/Baldwin

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2022 Als, Hilton
MW 5-6:30 Wheeler 301


By the time James Baldwin died in 1987, he had, arguably, become the voice of black and queer America. As the author of numerous novels, essays, plays, and social commentaries, the Harlem-born author had managed, over his nearly forty-year career, to write about race, sex, gender, and the politics of difference in a style that was uniquely his own. His voice was personal, analytical, and highly literary, all at once.

In this course, we will not only examine James Baldwin’s career, but the times that defined him and a relationship that was, early on, central to his life as an artist: his friendship with Richard Wright, whose best-known works remain Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945). How did Baldwin, a Harlem born native, become our premiere poet of exile? Wright emigrated to Paris before Baldwin. Did their respective self-exiles make them quintessentially American artists, and our greatest critics?

Wright/Baldwin will be conducted like a seminar, so classroom discussion is key. Discussions will be divided between analyzing student writing, and various Wright and Baldwin texts. 

Book List:

J. Baldwin, Nobody Knows My Name (Vintage)

---------, The Fire Next Time (Vintage)

--------, Notes of a Native Son (Vintage)

--------, Go Tell it to the Mountain (Vintage)

--------, Going to Meet the Man

--------, Nothing Personal (Penguin Random House) 

--------, Giovanni's Room (Vintage)

--------, No Name in the Street (Vintage)

-------, The Devil Finds Work (Vintage)

-------, One Day I was Lost: A Scenario Based on the Autobiography of Malcolm X


R. Wright, Black Boy (Harper Perennial)

---------, Native Son (Perennial Modern Classics)

---------, Eight Men (Harper Perennial Classics)

---------, Black Power (Harper Collins)


Cleaver, E., Soul on Ice (Delta)

Davis, Angela, Angela Davis: An Autobiography (Haymarket)

Malcom X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Back to Semester List