114th Annual Conference - Pasadena, California
Friday, November 11 - Sunday, November 13, 2016

Reaching Out to James Baldwin: The Sense of Touch in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Another Country

Jack Taylor, University of Hawai'i, Manoa

This paper analyzes the sense of touch in Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Another Country. I argue that the sense of touch is a key component in both novels. In both of these texts—and perhaps throughout Baldwin’s entire corpus—touching functions as a means to bridge gaps between different social groups. 

Proposal: 

This paper analyzes the sense of touch in Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Another Country. I argue that the sense of touch is a key component in both novels. In both of these texts—and perhaps throughout Baldwin’s entire corpus—touching functions as a means to bridge gaps between different social groups. For example, touching in Another Country and Giovanni’s Room opens the door to love, to the erotic, and to a profound appreciation and acceptance of the Other. But touching operates on a different level than the caress, which signifies uncertainty in the future between those involved and allows Baldwin to explore the sense of touch on multiple levels. By focusing on the sense of touch, Baldwin was able to distance himself from Richard Wright who focused more on the gaze as a means to measure the distance between different social groups. This paper thus, situates Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Another Country against the backdrop of Wright’s literary project and then moves to a thorough investigation of the touch and caress to analyze how they structure Baldwin novels.