Blues for Mister Charlie: A Play

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In a small Southern town, a white man murders a black man, then throws his body in the weeds. With this act of violence--which is loosely based on the notorious 1955 killing of Emmett Till--James Baldwin launches an unsparing and at times agonizing probe of the wounds of race. For where once a white storekeeper could have shot a "boy" like Richard Henry with impunity, times have changed. And centuries of brutality and fear, patronage and contempt, are about to erupt in a moment of truth as devastating as a shotgun blast.

In his award-winning play, Baldwin turns a murder and its aftermath into an inquest in which even the most well-intentioned whites are implicated--and in which even a killer receives his share of compassion.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Sep 17, 2013
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9780804149747
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Drama / American / African American
Literary Criticism / American / African American
Literary Criticism / Modern / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"By turns philosophical and playful, lyrical and earthy, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), swoops, leaps, dives and soars, reimagining a turbulent point in American history through a cockeyed contemporary lens . . . The finest work yet from this gifted writer."—The New York Times

"Thrilling. . . . A masterpiece . . . A story that engages the deepest possible issues in the most gripping possible ways."—New York

Offered his freedom if he joins his master in the ranks of the Confederacy, Hero, a slave, must choose whether to leave the woman and people he loves for what may be another empty promise. As his decision brings him face to face with a nation at war with itself, the ones Hero left behind debate whether to escape or wait for his return, only to discover that for Hero, freedom may have come at a great spiritual cost. A devastatingly beautiful dramatic work, Father Comes Home from the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3) is the opening trilogy of a projected nine-play cycle that will ultimately take us into the present.

Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog in 2002. Her other plays include The Book of Grace, In the Blood, Venus, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Fucking A, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom and The America Play. In 2007 her 365 Days/365 Plays was produced at more than seven hundred theaters worldwide. Parks is a MacArthur Fellow and the Master Writer Chair at the Public Theater.

Honorable Mention, 2019 MLA Prize for a First Book
Sole Finalist Mention for the 2018 Lora Romero First Book Prize, presented by the American Studies Association

Exposes the influential work of a group of black artists to confront and refute scientific racism.

Traversing the archives of early African American literature, performance, and visual culture, Britt Rusert uncovers the dynamic experiments of a group of black writers, artists, and performers. Fugitive Science chronicles a little-known story about race and science in America. While the history of scientific racism in the nineteenth century has been well-documented, there was also a counter-movement of African Americans who worked to refute its claims.

Far from rejecting science, these figures were careful readers of antebellum science who linked diverse fields—from astronomy to physiology—to both on-the-ground activism and more speculative forms of knowledge creation. Routinely excluded from institutions of scientific learning and training, they transformed cultural spaces like the page, the stage, the parlor, and even the pulpit into laboratories of knowledge and experimentation. From the recovery of neglected figures like Robert Benjamin Lewis, Hosea Easton, and Sarah Mapps Douglass, to new accounts of Martin Delany, Henry Box Brown, and Frederick Douglass, Fugitive Science makes natural science central to how we understand the origins and development of African American literature and culture.

This distinct and pioneering book will spark interest from anyone wishing to learn more on race and society.
Honorable Mention, 2019 MLA Prize for a First Book
Sole Finalist Mention for the 2018 Lora Romero First Book Prize, presented by the American Studies Association

Exposes the influential work of a group of black artists to confront and refute scientific racism.

Traversing the archives of early African American literature, performance, and visual culture, Britt Rusert uncovers the dynamic experiments of a group of black writers, artists, and performers. Fugitive Science chronicles a little-known story about race and science in America. While the history of scientific racism in the nineteenth century has been well-documented, there was also a counter-movement of African Americans who worked to refute its claims.

Far from rejecting science, these figures were careful readers of antebellum science who linked diverse fields—from astronomy to physiology—to both on-the-ground activism and more speculative forms of knowledge creation. Routinely excluded from institutions of scientific learning and training, they transformed cultural spaces like the page, the stage, the parlor, and even the pulpit into laboratories of knowledge and experimentation. From the recovery of neglected figures like Robert Benjamin Lewis, Hosea Easton, and Sarah Mapps Douglass, to new accounts of Martin Delany, Henry Box Brown, and Frederick Douglass, Fugitive Science makes natural science central to how we understand the origins and development of African American literature and culture.

This distinct and pioneering book will spark interest from anyone wishing to learn more on race and society.

New Yorker James Baldwin once declared that a black man can look at a map of the United States, contemplate the area south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and thus scare himself to death. In The Scary Mason-Dixon Line, renowned literary scholar Trudier Harris explores why black writers, whether born in Mississippi, New York, or elsewhere, have consistently both loved and hated the South. Harris explains that for these authors the South represents not so much a place or even a culture as a rite of passage. Not one of them can consider himself or herself a true African American writer without confronting the idea of the South in a decisive way. Harris considers native-born black southerners Raymond Andrews, Ernest J. Gaines, Edward P. Jones, Tayari Jones, Yusef Komunyakaa, Randall Kenan, and Phyllis Alesia Perry, and nonsouthern writers James Baldwin, Sherley Anne Williams, and Octavia E. Butler. The works Harris examines date from Baldwin's Blues for Mr. Charlie (1964) to Edward P. Jones's The Known World (2003). By including Komunyakaa's poems and Baldwin's play, as well as male and female authors, Harris demonstrates that the writers' preoccupation with the South cuts across lines of genre and gender.
Whether their writings focus on slavery, migration from the South to the North, or violence on southern soil, and whether they celebrate the triumph of black southern heritage over repression or castigate the South for its treatment of blacks, these authors cannot escape the call of the South. Indeed, Harris asserts that creative engagement with the South represents a defining characteristic of African American writing.
A singular work by one of the foremost literary scholars writing today, The Scary Mason-Dixon Line superbly demonstrates how history and memory continue to figure powerfully in African American literary creativity.
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