The problem in America is that we don’t apologise, and we don’t
learn. The protests against the Iraq War worldwide were enormous.
I don’t think Americans got a sense of the protest or the damage
in Iraq at all. The protests were not that big a story in the USA. The
American press report on every story from an American viewpoint.
It is what comes naturally to them. It’s not done out of malice; they
don’t know any better.1
In his introduction to an episode of the PBS programme Open
Mind, recorded in January 1992, host Richard Heffner
Dance has always been a method of self- expression for human beings. This book examines the political power of dance and especially its transgressive potential. Focusing on readings of dance pioneers Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, Gumboots dancers in the gold mines of South Africa, the One Billion Rising movement using dance to protest against gendered violence, dabkeh in Palestine and dance as protest against human rights abuse in Israel, the Sun Dance within the Native American Crow tribe, the book focuses on the political power of dance and moments in which dance transgresses politics articulated in words. Thus the book seeks ways in which reading political dance as interruption unsettles conceptions of politics and dance.
When British politicians complain
that television dramatists have failed to produce a native equivalent of
The West Wing – that is, a series about politics that presents
its practitioners as noble and effective – they forget one vital
President Jed Bartlet, the central protagonist in the NBC series, which
in the United States ran from 1999 to 2006, is a head
Contemporary ‘British’ cinema and the nation’s monarchs
imagine the monarchy, and in so doing forge a particular sense of
British national identity.
Heritage is not politically neutral – heritage artefacts,
events and representations always carry with them particular ideas about
how we might view the past, and how the past might be used in the
present. One of the most vital features of Britain’s royal heritage is
the sense of longevity and tradition; to mobilise
To consider how James Baldwin resisted racialized notions of sexuality in his
first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, I employ a number of black feminist
critics—including Saidiya Hartman, Patricia Williams, Hortense Spillers, and Patricia
Hill Collins—to analyze three under-studied minor characters: Deborah, Esther,
and Richard. Those three characters are best understood as figures of
heterosexual nonconformity who articulate sophisticated and important critiques of rape
and marriage in America at the turn of the twentieth century. Baldwin thus
wrote subversive theories of race and sexuality into the margins of the novel, making its
style inextricable from its politics. Baldwin’s use of marginal voices was a deft and
intentional artistic choice that was emancipatory for his characters and that remains
enduringly relevant to American sexual politics. In this particularly polarizing
transition from the Obama era to the Donald J. Trump presidency, I revisit Baldwin’s
ability to subtly translate political ideas across fault lines like race, nationality, and
This book charts and analyses the work of Oliver Stone – arguably one of the foremost political filmmakers in Hollywood during the last thirty years. Drawing on previously unseen production files from Oliver Stone’s personal archives and hours of interviews both with Stone and a range of present and former associates within the industry, the book employs a thematic structure to explore Stone’s life and work in terms of war, politics, money, love and corporations. This allows the authors both to provide a synthesis of earlier and later film work as well as locate that work within Stone’s developing critique of government. The book explores the development of aesthetic changes in Stone’s filmmaking and locates those changes within ongoing academic debates about the relationship between film and history as well as wider debates about Hollywood and the film industry. All of this is explored with detailed reference to the films themselves and related to a set of wider concerns that Stone has sought to grapple with -the American Century, exceptionalism and the American Dream, global empire, government surveillance and corporate accountability. The book concludes with a perspective on Stone’s ‘brand’ as not just an auteur and commercially viable independent filmmaker but as an activist arguing for a very distinct kind of American exceptionalism that seeks a positive role for the US globally whilst eschewing military adventurism.
I reflect on the place of If Beale Street Could Talk in the
corpus of Baldwin’s writings, and its relationship to Barry
Jenkins’s movie released at the beginning of 2019. I consider also what
the arrival of the movie can tell us about how Baldwin is located in
contemporary collective memories.
James Baldwin’s Pragmatist Politics in
The Fire Next Time
Courtney D Ferriter
In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin argues that the American dream is far from being a
reality in part because there is much Americans do not wish to know about themselves.
Given the current political climate in the United States, this idea seems just as timely
as it did in the 1960s. Baldwin’s politics and thinking about race and religion are
informed by an optimistic belief in the human capacity to love and change for the better,
in contrast with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the heir apparent to Baldwin’s legacy. Considering
current events, it seems particularly useful to turn back to The Fire Next Time. Not only
does Baldwin provide a foundation for understanding racism in the United States, but more
importantly, he provides some much-needed hope and guidance for the future. Baldwin
discusses democracy as an act that must be realized, in part by coming to a greater
understanding of race and religion as performative acts that have political consequences
for all Americans. In this article, I examine the influence of pragmatism on Baldwin’s
understanding of race and religion. By encouraging readers to acknowledge race and
religion as political constructs, Baldwin highlights the inseparability of theory and
practice that is a hallmark of both pragmatism and the realization of a democratic
society. Furthermore, I argue that Baldwin’s politics provide a more useful framework than
Coates’s for this particular historical moment because of Baldwin’s emphasis on change and
James Baldwin, the Religious Right, and the Moral
In the 1980s, James Baldwin recognized that a major transformation had occurred in the
socio-political functions of religion. His critique adapted accordingly, focusing on the
ways in which religion—particularly white evangelical Christianity—had morphed into a
movement deeply enmeshed with mass media, conservativepolitics, and late capitalism.
Religion in the Reagan era was leveraged, sold, and consumed in ways never before seen,
from charismatic televangelists, to Christian-themed amusement parks, to mega-churches.
The new movement was often characterized as the “religious right” or the “Moral Majority”
and was central to both Reagan’s political coalition as well as the broader culture wars.
For Baldwin, this development had wide-ranging ramifications for society and the
individual. This article draws on Baldwin’s final major essay, “To Crush the Serpent”
(1987), to examine the author’s evolving thoughts on religion, salvation, and
transgression in the context of the Reagan era.
This review article charts the general direction of scholarship in James Baldwin
studies between the years 2016 and 2017, reflecting on important scholarly
events and publications of the period and identifying notable trends in
criticism. Surveying the field as a whole, the most notable features are the
“political turn” that seeks to connect Baldwin’s social
insights from the past to the present, and the ongoing access to and interest in
the Baldwin archive. In addition to these larger trends, there is continued
interest in situating Baldwin in national, regional, and geographical contexts
as well as interest with how he grapples with and illuminates issues of gender