Abstract

This essay argues that James Baldwin's writings on film exemplify the broader project that he undertakes in his midcareer nonfiction: to enlist an ethics of intersubjective love in the dismantling of racial categories. Applying ethical concepts like the "shattering" effect of the self's encounter with the other to the analysis of classical Hollywood films, Baldwin develops an original and coherent hermeneutic approach, at once highly literary and engaged with academic film theory's foundational concerns (the ontological status of the image, spectatorship, ideological critique, and historiography). Baldwin's approach, the essay argues, conceives of the film as an unstable, fragmented textual structure and of actors and viewers as historically situated subjects whose "flesh-and-blood" existence the film puts at stake.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 385-412
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-06
Open Access
No
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