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Lecture to Focus on James Baldwin’s Use of Images in his Narratives

April 10, 2008
By Arika Garg '10

Joshua L. Miller, assistant professor of English language and literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, will present a lecture entitled “The Corroboration of That Eye: Photonarrativity and Intergenerational Memory” on Friday, April 18 at 4 p.m. in the Gould Library Athenaeum. The lecture, part of a special week-long symposium on the acclaimed American writer and activist, James Baldwin, is free and open to the public.

Miller has researched and explored the way in which Baldwin’s work uses photography to disrupt the written narrative, by incorporating pictures and images with seemingly little relevance to his writing. Baldwin’s work is part of the rarely-researched photo-text genre. Miller has published two essays on Baldwin’s work, including “The Discovery of What It Means to Be a Witness: James Baldwin's Dialectics of Difference” in James Baldwin Now (1999) and “A Striking Addiction to Irreality: Nothing Personal and the Legacy of the Photo-Text Genre” in Re-viewing James Baldwin: Things Not Seen (2000).

Miller received his PhD from Columbia University in 2001.His primary research interests are U.S. literature, modernism, language politics, ethnic studies, and cultural theory.

Considered one of America’s most powerful cultural critics and essayists, “Contemplating James Baldwin: Language, Courage, and Tenderness” focuses on Baldwin’s extraordinary legacy, bringing together scholars from diverse disciplines to celebrate and discuss the man and his work. The colloquium features a series of lectures and discussions, film screenings, and a provocative art exhibit—culminating with a special performance of “James Baldwin: Down from the Mountaintop,” the critically-acclaimed solo play written and performed by Tony Award-nominee Calvin Levels on April 19. All events are free and open to the public.

“Contemplating James Baldwin: Language, Courage, and Tenderness” is made possible by the 2008 Bryn-Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities Program. The event is co-sponsored by the Carleton College Perlman Center for Learning and Teaching, with major funding from the Mellon Faculty Life Cycles Grant as well as many other campus departments and organizations. For a detailed description of the entire symposium, visit