Fiction and Poetry

James Baldwin’s Little Man, Little Man

Baldwin_REV_jacket_frontToday is the official publication date for the republication of James Baldwin’s only children’s book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood.  Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood. Now available for the first time in forty years, this new edition of Little Man, Little Man—which retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac—includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart, with an introduction by Baldwin scholars Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective, but we also gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

Editor Nicholas Boggs told the New York Times about his discovery of an old copy of Little Man, Little Man in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library in the 1990s, when he was an undergraduate. “It wasn’t like anything else he’s written, and the more I read it, it wasn’t like anything else I’d read,” he told the Times, and it led him to begin a campaign to get the book republished. The Times notes that the reissue “could scarcely be more timely” and interviews author Jacqueline Woodson about the book. “Now that we have a children’s book, we can start people off even younger,” she told them. “It’s a book that young people can read or have read to them, but it’s also a new Baldwin for adults.”

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Little Man, Little Man has also been praised by Levar Burton, who says, “The prospect of reading an out-of-print children’s book by none other than James Baldwin himself is as tantalizing an invitation as I have ever been offered. And . . . it does not disappoint!”  The book has been positively reviewed in People MagazinePublishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness. Teachers and librarians are praising it as well. On her blog Ms Yingling Reads, school librarian Karen Yingling says the book will be a great teaching tool “because it is a rare primary source snapshot of a particular place and time.” We are offering a free Teacher Resource Guide that aligns with Common Core standards.

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Although it is available everywhere now, the book will be officially launched in New York City from September 11-14 with several great events open to the public. The events will kick off with a symposium at New York University on September 11 featuring the book’s editors and Baldwin’s niece and nephew in conversation with several scholars. On September 13, Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture hosts a book release and conversation among the book’s contributors along with novelist Jacqueline Woodson and writer Kia Corthon. Then on September 14, Harlem’s Sugar Hill Children’s Museum hosts TJ’s Bash, a colorful day of art-making activities, storytelling, poetry, and music for children ages 3-8. And wrapping up the weekend’s events will be an event at McNally Jackson bookstore in Williamsburg on September 15.

Preview the book by listening to Tejan Karefa-Smart read from it and watch James Baldwin himself discuss writing for children in this great video created by Dia Felix and Nicholas Boggs. Then buy the book on our website for a 30% discount using coupon code E18LMLM.

Poem of the Week

978-0-8223-7147-2For the second week of National Poetry Month, we’re sharing an excerpt from David Grubbs’s new book-length prose poem Now that the audience is assembled. The poem, both a work of literature and a study of music, describes a fictional performance during which a musician improvises the construction of a series of invented instruments before an audience that is alternately contemplative, participatory, disputatious, and asleep.

 

The demonstration is scarcely completed when the composer places his instrument on the ground and turns to address the audience.

The musician cannot flip the switch quite so easily, and she rocks back and forth with an unprotesting expression, still cradling her instrument and inhabiting a different sphere while the composer, speaking through the page-turner, shares his take on this brief performance: It needs to be said that a duo performance is something other than this composition. Two is an insufficient number. Two performers suffice only to show the technique. The structure of the work is the invitation for multiple individuals to create and experience alterations on the basis of unforeseen encounters. It’s a pleasure to encounter you in this way (composer and page-turner both gesture toward the musician, who gives no indication that she’s listening) and to do so again and again and differently each time, but a duo performance has a melancholic desert-island quality. That of two survivors, and we need others. Composer and page-turner toe the edge of the lighted rectangle and peer into the darkness: Do we have volunteers?

The audience feigns sleep or slumbers on.

Thankfully the composer knows when to drop the direct address, and the offer is not repeated. There is no need to force participation. He gestures for musician and page-turner to follow him as he shuffles toward the upstage door that once again swings open. They disappear for several minutes into the unknown region.

When they return to the performance space, they come provisioned with a collection of ten bulky round objects, each thick with dust and wrapped in a maroon cloth and tied with a piece of canary-yellow nylon rope. They lean the wrapped objects against the wall in an arrangement based on descending order of size. The largest of the bundles matches the arm span of the page-turner; the smallest resembles a hubcap.

We’re going to try something different, announces the composer.

Learn more about Now that the audience is assembled.

Poem of the Week

978-0-8223-7084-0It’s National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a poem with you each Wednesday in April! Today’s choice is from Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s brand-new poetry collection M Archive, which documents the persistence of Black life after an imagined worldwide cataclysm, told from the perspective of a future researcher uncovering evidence of the conditions of late capitalism, antiblackness, & environmental crisis.

 

this thing about one body. it was the black feminist metaphysicians who first said it wouldn’t be enough. never had been enough. was not the actual scale of breathing. they were the controversial priestesses who came out and said it in a way that people could understand (which is the same as saying they were the ones who said it in a way that the foolish would ignore, and then complain about and then co-opt without ever mentioning the black feminist metaphysicians again, like with intersectionality, but that’s another
apocalypse).

the Lorde of their understanding had taught them. this work began before I was born and it will continue . . .

the university taught them through its selective genocide. one body. the unitary body. one body was not a sustainable unit for the project at hand. the project itself being black feminist metaphysics. which is to say, breathing.

hindsight is everything (and also one of the key reasons that the individual body is not a workable unit of impact), but if the biochemists had diverted their energy towards this type of theoretical antioxidant around the time of the explicit emergence of this idea (let’s say the end of the second-to-last century), everything could have been different. if the environmentalists sampling the ozone had factored this in, the possibilities would have expanded exponentially.

that wouldn’t have happened (and of course we see that it didn’t) because of the primary incompatibility. the constitutive element of individualism being adverse, if not antithetical to the dark feminine, which is to say, everything.

to put it in tweetable terms, they believed they had to hate black women in order to be themselves.

even many of the black women believed it sometimes. (which is also to say that some of the people on the planet believed they themselves were actually other than black women. which was a false and impossible belief about origin. they were all, in their origin, maintenance, and measure of survival more parts black woman than anything else.) it was like saying they were no parts water. (which they must have believed as well. you can see what they did to the water.)

the problematic core construct was that in order to be sane, which is to live in one body, which is to live one lifetime at one time, which is to disconnect from the black simultaneity of the universe, you could and must deny black femininity. and somehow breathe. the fundamental fallacy being (obvious now. obscured at the time.) that there is no separation from the black simultaneity of the universe also known as everything also known as the black feminist pragmatic intergenerational sphere. everything is everything.

they thought escaping the dark feminine was the only way to earn breathing room in this life. they were wrong.

you can have breathing and the reality of the radical black porousness of love (aka black feminist metaphysics aka us all of us, us) or you cannot. there is only both or neither. there is no either or. there is no this or that. there is only all.

this was their downfall. they hated the black women who were themselves. a suicidal form of genocide. so that was it. they could only make the planet unbreathable.

Learn more about M Archive.

Narrative Theory and the History of the Novel

The most recent special issue of Poetics Today, “Narrative Theory and the History of the Novel,” edited by Paul Dawson, is now available.

ddpoe_39_1_cover-1[1]What is a novel, how did the genre emerge, and how has it changed throughout history? This special issue addresses these perennial questions by bringing the formalist approach of narrative theory into dialogue with the historical approach of novel studies. It identifies and interrogates the convergences between current scholarship in both fields in order to shed new light on English, French, Danish and American fiction from the seventeenth century to the present.

Browse the table of contents and read the introduction to the issue, now freely available.

Ireland: From Boom to Bust and Beyond

The most recent issue of boundary 2, “Ireland: From Boom to Bust and Beyond,” edited by Joe Cleary, is now available.

ddbou_45_1_coverThe articles in this issue explore the political, economic, social, cultural and literary impacts of the extraordinary neoliberal boom and bust cycle after the Irish government relinquished its economic sovereignty to a Troika comprised of International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission (EC) officials, a decision which precipitated massive unemployment and youth emigration, wage and social provision cuts, housing and medical crises, and saddled the Irish citizenry with a gargantuan national debt.  Despite much-lauded miracles of recovery, the effects of this boom and bust cycle will continue to be felt across Ireland for decades to come.

Dealing with the country’s republican past and neoliberal present, and with matters ranging from the economic causes to the political consequences of the crisis, this volume offers a wide-ranging overview of one of several devastating economic crises to have rocked the European Union in recent times. By situating the crisis in the context of related transformations in areas of religion, gender and sexuality, Republican history and national commemoration, poetry, the novel, and social and cultural policy, the essays within this issue argue that all aspects of Irish society have been radically transformed by several decades of neoliberal boom and bust and by the 2008 meltdown of the Celtic Tiger.

Read the foreword to the issue and “Glimpses of an Irish Republic” by Seamus Deane, freely available now.

The Most Read Articles of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we’re reflecting on the most read articles across all our journals. Check out the top 15 articles that made the list, all freely available until the end of January.

ddjhppl_38_2Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women’s Legal Status and Public Health
by Lynn M. Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin

The Impact of the ACA on Premiums: Evidence from the Self-Employed
by Bradley T. Heim, Gillian Hunter, Ithai Z. Lurie, and Shanthi P. Ramnath

Revisiting Postmodernism: An Interview with Fredric Jameson
by Nico Baumbach, Damon R. Young, and Genevieve Yue

Policy Diffusion across Disparate Disciplines: Private- and Public-Sector Dynamics Affecting State-Level Adoption of the ACA
by Rena M. Conti and David K. Jones

ddpcult_27_1Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy
by Alice E. Marwick

Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?
by Cathy J. Cohen

Necropolitics” by Achille Mbembe

Pascal’s Wager: Health Insurance Exchanges, Obamacare, and the Republican Dilemma
by David K. Jones, Katharine W. V. Bradley, and Jonathan Oberlander

Policy Diffusion in Polarized Times: The Case of the Affordable Care Act
by Craig Volden

Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy
by Arjun Appadurai

ddbou_44_2The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump
by Peter E. Gordon

My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage
by Susan Stryker

Introduction: Antinormativity’s Queer Conventions
by Robyn Wiegman

Michael Brown
by Stefano Harney and Fred Moten

Althusser’s Dramaturgy and the Critique of Ideology
by Étienne Balibar

Duke University Press to Bring James Baldwin’s Only Children’s Book Back Into Print

LittleManLittleManLittle Man, Little Man is the only children’s book by acclaimed writer James Baldwin. Published in 1976 by Dial Press, the book quickly went out of print. Now, at a time when Baldwin is more popular than ever, and readers, librarians, and booksellers are clamoring for more diverse children’s books, Duke University Press is proud to bring the book back into print. It will be available in August 2018.

In the book, four-year-old TJ spends his days on his lively Harlem block playing with his best friends WT and Blinky and running errands for neighbors. As he comes of age as a “Little Man” with big dreams, TJ faces a world of grown-up adventures and realities. Little Man, Little Man celebrates and explores the challenges and joys of black childhood. In it we not only see life in 1970s Harlem from a black child’s perspective; we gain a fuller appreciation of the genius of one of America’s greatest writers.

James Baldwin called Little Man, Little Man a “celebration of the self-esteem of black children.” In their brief introduction to the book, Baldwin scholars Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody explain that the illustrations and text invite readers to “look again and experience the social ills represented in the book—violence, economic disparity, alcoholism and drug abuse, and the distortions of mass media—from the perspective of a black child, and one, it is important to note in closing, who is not innocent.” They suggest that audiences at the time were not ready for this perspective, which might explain the book’s initial reception.

Duke University Press’s new edition of Little Man, Little Man retains the charming original illustrations by French artist Yoran Cazac and includes a foreword by Baldwin’s nephew Tejan “TJ” Karefa-Smart (the inspiration for the title character) and an afterword by his niece Aisha Karefa-Smart.

Booksellers wanting more information or wishing to place an order for the book can contact Sales Manager Jennifer Schaper at jennifer.schaper@dukeupress.edu.

All other inquiries: Laura Sell, Publicity, lsell@dukeupress.edu or 919-687-3639.

Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood
By James Baldwin. Illustrated by Yoran Cazac.
Edited and with an introduction by Nicholas Boggs and Jennifer DeVere Brody
With a foreword by Tejan Karefa and an afterword by Aisha Karefa-Smart
ISBN: 978-1-4780-0004-4
Hardcover, 128 pages, $22.95
Fully illustrated in color
August 2018

Bad Object

dddif_28_1_cover.jpgThe most recent issue of differences, “Bad Object,” returns to the work of the journal’s founding co-editor Naomi Schor, a leading scholar in feminist and critical theory. This issue takes as its starting point Schor’s book Bad Objects: Essays Popular and Unpopular (1995), in which she discussed her attraction to the “bad objects” the academy had overlooked or ignored: universalism, essentialism, and feminism. Underpinning these bad objects was her mourning of the literary, a sense that her work—and feminist theory more generally—had departed from the textual readings in which they were grounded.  

Schor’s question at the time was “Will a new feminist literary criticism arise that will take literariness seriously while maintaining its vital ideological edge?” The contributors to this issue take that literariness—the “bad object”— and her question seriously.

From the editor’s note:

“This is not a thematic issue; we did not ask contributors to address the question of language, or the new formalism, or debates about reading, nor to engage literary texts—though all those things were welcome. Our wager was that the essays, collected as a “Bad Object,” would be at once an invigorating and unsettling reading experience and would thus “speak for themselves.”

Read an essay from the issue, made freely available, and revisit Schor’s original book.

Norman Foerster 2016 Prize Winner Announced

ddal_88_3This year’s winner of the Norman Foerster Prize for the best essay published annually in American Literature has been selected. Congratulations to Meina Yates-Richard, winner of the 2016 Foerster Prize for her essay “‘WHAT IS YOUR MOTHER’S NAME?’: Maternal Disavowal and the Reverberating Aesthetic of Black Women’s Pain in Black Nationalist Literature,” featured in volume 88, issue 3. The selection committee, comprised of Michael Elliot, Nihad Farooq, Zita Cristina Nunes, Matthew Taylor, and Priscilla Wald, wrote of Yates-Richard’s winning essay:

In a field of distinguished work, Yates-Richard’s article stood out for us by tracing a compelling, provocative genealogy of black maternal sound and its relationship to black nationalism. By attending to the screams and songs of African-American women, Yates-Richard in this piece shows how black nationalism has both required and sacrificed the vocalizations of women. The result is an article that charts a textual tradition from Frederick Douglass’s Narrative to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and that raises important questions about the political work of such figurations. We are truly pleased to be able to recognize this path-breaking scholarship.

Additionally, there were two honorable mentions for this year’s contest. Congratulations to Mary Grace Albanese and James Dawes!

The selection committee chose Mary Grace Albanese’s essay “Uncle Tom across the Sea (and Back),” from volume 88, issue 4, for its innovative and thoroughly researched reconsideration of Uncle Tom’s Cabin within the context of Haitian politics and its comprehensive, multilingual readings of American literary history. In constructing a genealogy of the Haitain appropriations of Stowe’s novel, Albanese reminds us of the unpredictability of literary translation across national boundaries and the significance of hemispheric literary histories.

They chose James Dawes’s essay “The Novel of Human Rights,” from volume 88, issue 1, for its vital, challenging, and open-ended readings about the political urgency of the novel, and how the representation of atrocity exerts pressure on the form itself. This is a significant, provocative intervention in American literary studies—a stimulating call for us to rethink the relationship of literary genre to the most pressing political questions of our time.

Congratulations to Meina Yates-Richard and both honorable mentions! Read all the articles above, made freely available.

Aimé Césaire: Critical Perspectives

Celebrate Aimé Césaire with recent and long-established scholarship from Duke University Press journals.

ddsaq_115_3In the most recent issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly (volume 115, issue 3), “Aimé Césaire: Critical Perspectives,” edited by Michaeline A. Crichlow and Gregson Davis, contributors revisit Césaire’s influential and controversial brand of “negritude,” as he articulated it in his literary work (poetry, drama and prose) in the course of his lengthy career on the island of Martinique in the French Caribbean. The contributions provide a wide range of fresh critical and philosophical perspectives by leading scholars in the field that refine and clarify the concept of negritude and its relation to the ongoing project of cultural decolonization. Topics include forging a Caribbean literary styleCésaire’s apocalyptic wordcircumstance and racial time in poetry, and Aimé Césaire studies. To read more of the issue, check out the table of contents.

ddsmx_19_3_48Revisit Small Axe‘s special section “Rethinking Aimé Césaire” from the November 2015 issue. Included in this section are essays devoted to Césaire’s poetic legacy, his theory of “negritude,” his relationship to Marxism, and his intellectual partnership with his wife, Suzanne Césaire. What emerges is a sense of Césaire’s legacy as a living legacy, firmly rooted in a specific historical context but revealing different facets of its structure to successive generations as they seek to understand it in relation to their own preoccupations and challenges. Read the introduction to the section, made freely available.

ddst_103Read more about Césaire in Social Text #103 (2010), which includes Brent Hayes Edwards’s “Introduction: Césaire in 1956” as well as two of Césaire’s own translated works, “Culture and Colonization” and “Letter to Maurice Thorez.”

Also check out these three articles from a 2009 issue of Nka:”Aimé Césaire: Architect of Négritude” by Locksley Edmondson, “Aimé Césaire: The Poet’s Passion” by Édouard Glissant (translated by Christopher Winks), and “Losing Césaire” by Natalie Melas.