James Baldwin was a remarkable novelist, a legendary essayist, a civil rights activist, and one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. Baldwin once said, "You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you can’t, but also knowing literature is indispensable to the world... The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter even but a millimeter the way people look at reality, then you can change it." Join this class and allow the months of reading, analyzing, and marveling at Baldwin’s insight and eloquence transform your thinking and feelings about race, America, history, love, hate, and much more.
Reader series classes take you on a deep dive into specific topic or author to gain a more advanced understanding of literature and the world. Experienced instructors will provide history, context, and analysis, and guide in-depth discussion that will help make you an instant expert in a single subject or author’s body of work.
Each participant can decide how they choose to engage with the classes. You can read the books ahead of time, read them as the class progresses, or read them after the class has concluded. No matter your level of prior knowledge, you will receive a wealth of materials and insights in a condensed period, like a master class or a great course, only right here in Cleveland.
This class takes place remotely online via Zoom. Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions.
Jan 9: Go Tell It on the Mountain
Feb 13: Notes of a Native Son
Mar 13: Giovanni's Room
Apr 10: Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son
May 8: Another Country
June 12: The Fire Next Time
July 10: Going to Meet the Man
Aug 14: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
Sep 11: No Name in the Street
Oct 9: If Beale Street Could Talk
Nov 13: Just Above My Head
Dec 11: Additional materials
Michelle R. Smith is a writer, educator, cultural facilitator, and native Clevelander. She is the author of the poetry collections Ariel in Black (2015) and The Vagina Analogues (2020), and the creator of BLAX MUSEUM, an annual performance showcase dedicated to honoring notable black figures in American history and culture. Michelle’s favorite writers include Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Sylvia Plath, Terrance Hayes, and Saeed Jones.