- Purchase/rental options available:
In progress at the University of Michigan and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this digital humanities project proposes a virtual writer's house-museum for James Baldwin (1924–1987)—a civil rights movement activist, a black queer intellectual who lived overseas and one of the most important twentieth-century American writers. "Archiving James Baldwin's House" focuses on documenting and making accessible to students, researchers, and fans "Chez Baldwin," the residence where he spent his last sixteen years and where he created his most enduring household. It argues that the remnants of lives we study often lead us outside our comfort zones and become sources of unexpected narrative and visual information; both material and digital, they become personal and physical presences in our lives, extensions of ourselves. Along with the house, "Archiving" showcases artifacts abandoned as debris and refuse that were central to Baldwin's daily life: his voluminous library, foreign editions of his works, research files, phone logs, photographs, journals and magazines, vinyl records, art pieces and posters, even one of his typewriters. These objects—the only surviving archive of Baldwin's life matter—demand preservation as evidence of his black queer dwelling practices that inflected his later works and his vision of late twentieth-century US national identity.