James Baldwin’s America Returns to Alfred State

Printer-friendly version Posted Date: Monday, March 18, 2019 - 10:30

Starting on Tuesday, April 2, from 4:30-6p.m., Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Joe Flynn will once again hold the first of five planned Tuesday evening reading and discussion sessions concentrating on James Baldwin's America. Professor Flynn introduced courses in Black American Literature more than four decades ago and remains an active scholar in that field.

During his first term as President of the SUNY System University Faculty Senate, Joe nominated James Baldwin for a special honorary degree awarded by the SUNY Trustees in conjunction with the annual convocation of SUNY Distinguished Professors. To enhance this event and to highlight the life and genius of Baldwin, Joe, with the support of six related SUNY groups, then organized and chaired one of the nation’s earliest Black Studies - Women's Studies Symposium on the SUNY Albany campus. This was at a time when the fate of those two academic fields were felt to be in jeopardy around the nation.

This event featured outstanding writers and scholars from the Northeast including Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Feminist Press Editor Florence Howe, Kitchen Table - Women of Color Press Editor Barbara Smith, the late Amiri Baraka (Leroi Jones) and recently passed Baldwin scholar John (Tim) Reilly. All of these lead participants, including Baldwin, came for transportation and lodging costs. None requested or received any speaking fees.

This year’s Baldwin program is again funded by Manhattan-based Humanities NY, the state subdivision of the National Endowment of the Humanities. The project director for this effort is Dr. Daniel Katz, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Alfred State College. This year’s Reading and Discussion Group also enjoys the support of the Center of Civic Engagement, the Departments of English and Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Student Affairs Division.

For the second year running, interested adult readers from the greater Alfred area who appreciate lively conversations about great writers and their influence on our times are encouraged to apply. Two volumes of Baldwin's writings are now available and will be loaned at no charge. Our group of no more than a dozen collaborators will enjoy one another and be served healthy refreshments. If you wish to join us, please call or email Mary Hoffman, Secretary, ASC School of Arts and Sciences, at 608-587-3621 or hoffmamp@alfredstate.edu.