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James Baldwin, Teju Cole, and Glenn Ligon
Monika Gehlawat

This essay uses Edward Said’s theory of affiliation to consider the relationship between James Baldwin and contemporary artists Teju Cole and Glenn Ligon, both of whom explicitly engage with their predecessor’s writing in their own work. Specifically, Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village” (1953) serves a through-line for this discussion, as it is invoked in Cole’s essay “Black Body” and Ligon’s visual series, also titled Stranger in the Village. In juxtaposing these three artists, I argue that they express the dialectical energy of affiliation by articulating ongoing concerns of race relations in America while distinguishing themselves from Baldwin in terms of periodization, medium-specificity, and their broader relationship to Western art practice. In their adoption of Baldwin, Cole and Ligon also imagine a way beyond his historical anxieties and writing-based practice, even as they continue to reinscribe their own work with his arguments about the African-American experience. This essay is an intermedial study that reads fiction, nonfiction, language-based conceptual art and mixed media, as well as contemporary politics and social media in order consider the nuances of the African-American experience from the postwar period to our contemporary moment. Concerns about visuality/visibility in the public sphere, narrative voice, and self-representation, as well as access to cultural artifacts and aesthetic engagement, all emerge in my discussion of this constellation of artists. As a result, this essay identifies an emblematic, though not exclusive, strand of African-American intellectual thinking that has never before been brought together. It also demonstrates the ongoing relevance of Baldwin’s thinking for the contemporary political scene in this country.

James Baldwin Review
Author: Michael Kalisch

This book explores how the contemporary American novel has revived a long literary and political tradition of imagining male friendship as interlinked with the promises and paradoxes of democracy in the United States. In the last decades of the twentieth century, not only novelists but philosophers, critical theorists, and sociologists rediscovered the concept of friendship as a means of scrutinising bonds of national identity. This book reveals how friendship, long exiled from serious political philosophy, returned as a crucial term in late twentieth-century communitarian debates about citizenship, while, at the same time, becoming integral to continental philosophy’s exploration of the roots of democracy, and, in a different guise, to histories of sexuality. Moving innovatively between these disciplines, this important study brings into dialogue the work of authors rarely discussed together – including Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Dinaw Mengestu, and Teju Cole – and advances a compelling new account of the political and intellectual fabric of the contemporary American novel.

Dinaw Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears (2007) and Teju Cole’s Open City (2011)

radical politics. Setting out from the ‘narrow, shabby, and brightly lit’ aisles of Sepha’s quiet store, where decades-old calendars and a fading out-of-date map of Africa hang on the walls, this chapter offers a contrasting account of race, friendship, and belonging in contemporary American fiction (3). Concentrating on works by Mengestu and Teju Cole – two writers belonging to a generation heralded as representing an ‘African literary renaissance’ – this chapter elaborates a multifaceted understanding of black identity in America by bringing into focus the diverse

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
Rachel Sykes

5 The novel of ‘(dis)quiet’ In August 2011, two strikingly similar debut novels, Teju Cole’s Open City and Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station, appeared to great acclaim.1 The narrator of Open City is Julius, a Nigerian-German psychiatrist who travels through the boroughs of New York City where he is completing the final year of a fellowship. The narrator of Leaving the Atocha Station is Adam Gordon, a white, middle-class poet born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, educated in New York and living in Madrid on a prestigious arts fellowship. Both protagonists are

in The quiet contemporary American novel
Author: Rachel Sykes

This book defines quiet as an aesthetic of narrative that is driven by reflective principles and places Marilynne Robinson's work within a vibrant contemporary American trend. It makes two critical interventions. First, it maps the neglected history of quiet fictions and argues that from Hester Prynne to Clarissa Dalloway, from Bartleby to William Stoner, quiet characters fill the novel in the Western tradition. Second, it demonstrates how the novel's quiet undercurrent functions as an aesthetic in contemporary American fiction. The book engages with the problem of 'event' as a noisy narrative device and discusses the opposition of quiet texts to narratives written in the aftermath of 11 September 2001, an event that heralded to many the beginning of a noisy century. It discusses the subjective depictions of temporality portrayed in the fiction of Marilynne Robinson and Paul Harding. The book then argues that cognitive fictions by Richard Powers and Lynne Tillman expand the focus of the quiet novel. By expanding the focus, it uncovers the complex and often discordant recesses of human consciousness and challenges the traditional division between what is internally and externally felt. The book brings together the strands of this monograph to discuss what happens to the quiet novel when Teju Cole and Ben Lerner set their quiet novels in the noisy environment of the city. By paying attention to the quieter aspects of everyday experience, the quiet novel also reveals how quiet can be a multi-faceted state of existence, which is communicative and expressive.

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Rachel Sykes

as a narrative structure. In the conceptual leap between Chapters 2 and 5, between novels by Don DeLillo and Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Franzen and Teju Cole, it is clear that if the quiet novel exists then it does so in conjunction with the loud. Indeed, what I hope that this study has proven are the ways in which a quiet aesthetic is expressive and illuminating beyond the confines of a quiet text and that all novels can be read for both their quiet and noisy qualities. Finally, looking past the examination of fiction, the quiet novel can be understood in terms

in The quiet contemporary American novel
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Rachel Sykes

the American novel, which critics so often describe as noisy.6 Introduction 3 My second point of intervention is to demonstrate how the novel’s quiet undercurrent functions as an aesthetic in contemporary American fiction. Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and its partner novels, Home and Lila, Lynne Tillman’s American Genius; a comedy (2006), Richard Powers’ The Echo Maker (2006), Paul Harding’s Tinkers (2010) and its partner novel, Enon (2013), Teju Cole’s Open City (2011) and Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station (2011) are central to my analysis. While these

in The quiet contemporary American novel
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defensive suspicion and misunderstanding, Rush argues, male friendship can again be explored in fiction. This book argues that Rush is partly right. I demonstrate that male friendship does indeed re-emerge as a significant theme in late twentieth- and twenty-first-century American fiction, and I offer extended analyses of works by a broad and eclectic range of novelists, including Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, Dinaw Mengestu, and Teju Cole. But I argue that the reasons behind this re-emergence are not only to do with changing societal

in The politics of male friendship in contemporary American fiction
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The life, death, and rebirth of drone art
Arthur Holland Michel

traditions, to make the drone visible culturally . Consider, for instance, the many paintings that employed traditional artmaking techniques and aesthetics to portray unmanned aircraft, such as Fernando Brizuela’s formal drone watercolours and John Stark’s Vampyre ; Mahwish Chisty’s miniature drone paintings and Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox’s mystical drone landscapes – which both depict the drone using millennial artmaking techniques and imagery from Pakistan and Australia, respectively; or Teju Cole’s ‘Seven short stories about drones’, which spliced references to drones

in Drone imaginaries
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Alison Phipps

there were nonwhite women involved, this show of Western empathy and outrage on behalf of schoolgirls brutalised ‘over there’ seemed steeped in political whiteness, not least because of the format the pictures were in. As NigerianAmerican writer Teju Cole tweeted: ‘Remember: #BringBackOurGirls, a vital moment for Nigerian democracy, is not the same as #BringBackOurGirls, a wave of global sentimentality.’ And when the girls were not rescued or returned, most Western feminists moved on. In 2000 scholar Lauren Berlant asked: ‘What does it mean for the theory and practice

in Me, not you