The Mary Renault Society

The Triangle Area of North Carolina

Black Boy looks at White Boy: James Baldwin and Ingmar Bergman

James Baldwin Time Mag CoverThis presentation looks at James Baldwin’s 1959 Esquire profile of filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and the many unlikely connections between the two, primarily the Protestant religion, the tensions of paternity and strong willed, insensitive fathers, and the making of art.

It will look at his attached essay, “The Good Ship Jesus,” Baldwin’s essay entitled “The Northern Protestant,” an excerpt from Bergman’s autobiography The Magic Lantern, and clips from relevant Bergman films. Also we will talk about Baldwin’s uncompleted novel and gospel songs that bridge the meaning of all this philosophy and artistic endeavor, particularly “O Mary Don’t You Weep,” one of the possible roots for Baldwin’s most influential work, The Fire Next Time.

Randall KenanBorn in Brooklyn, Prof. Kenan was brought up in the rural community of Chinquapin, NC. In 1985 he graduated from UNC-CH with a BA in English and creative writing and a minor in physics, having spent a summer in 1984 at Oxford. Partly through the efforts of novelist Toni Morrison, he eventually became an editor at Knopf. His writing career began with his first novel, A Visitation of Spirits, in 1989. He has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, and the Sherwood Anderson Award.

As you may remember, in 1991 Prof. Kenan had a jeep named Bucephalus — after the horse of Alexander the Great. This should make him ideal for a presentation to a Society named after a person who brought Alexander to life.

Click to download this PDF file
The Good Ship Jesus by Randall Kenan


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