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Political Science Commons

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Democracy

2013

Bryn Mawr College

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Full-Text Articles in Political Science

Socrates In A Different Key: James Baldwin And Race In America, Joel Alden Schlosser Jan 2013

Socrates In A Different Key: James Baldwin And Race In America, Joel Alden Schlosser

Political Science Faculty Research and Scholarship

This essay interprets Baldwin as continuing the Socratic practice of self-examination and social criticism while also shifting his Socratic undertaking by charting the limits of examination created by the harsh effects of race and slavery in the United States. I argue that Baldwin's Socratic practice inflects not only his essays – the center of previous analyses – but also his fictions. By transposing Socrates to issues of race in twentieth-century America and confronting the incoherent effects of a racialized society, James Baldwin thus carries forward and transforms a pivotal figure in the history of political thought.