Speaker: Samuél Lopez-Barrantes, Context Expert
Who are you and what are you teaching in this Context Conversation?
Samuél Lopez-Barrantes: Hello, My name is Samuél Lopez Barrantes I am a creative writing professor in Paris at the Sorbonne, and I will be teaching a course on James Baldwin's life in Paris during his early years.
Why does this subject fascinate you?
Samuél Lopez-Barrantes: James Baldwin has always been one of my favorite writers, and when I learned about him, initially it was through the civil rights movement and I didn't realize just how good of a fiction writer he actually was. So, a lot of people think Baldwin is all about his essays, but I actually fell in love with his fiction, and that's why I wanted to explore the years that first inspired Giovanni's room and later another country.
What can someone expect to get out of this seminar?
Samuél Lopez-Barrantes: This seminar is going to cover James Baldwin's early life that led him to Paris and then those years between 1948 and 1959, where he really established himself as one of America's most premier writers. It's also going to cover some of the civil rights questions that he asked from an early age in his first essays, most notably a story called "A Stranger in the Village" that takes place in Switzerland.
What is one thing you cover in this seminar that people would be surprised to learn?
Samuél Lopez-Barrantes: A lot of people think of James Baldwin as an essayist and a nonfiction writer specifically in relation to his work during the civil rights movement, but his fiction, I think, is some of the best that we've ever seen in the history of American letters. And I really hope that out of this course, you'll understand why exactly Baldwin is also known as one of the great fiction writers in America, in the same tradition of the modernist, starting with Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway.