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Salvific Manhood

James Baldwin's Novelization of Male Intimacy

Ernest L. Gibson

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 10/2019
Pages: 252
Subject: Literary Criticism
eBook ISBN: 9781496217912


Salvific Manhood foregrounds the radical power of male intimacy and vulnerability in surveying each of James Baldwin's six novels. Asserting that manhood and masculinity hold the potential for both tragedy and salvation, Ernest L. Gibson III highlights the complex and difficult emotional choices Baldwin's men must make within their varied lives, relationships, and experiences. In Salvific Manhood, Gibson offers a new and compelling way to understand the hidden connections between Baldwin's novels. Thematically daring and theoretically provocative, he presents a queering of salvation, a nuanced approach that views redemption through the lenses of gender and sexuality.   Exploring how fraternal crises develop out of sociopolitical forces and conditions, Salvific Manhood theorizes a spatiality of manhood, where spaces in between men are erased through expressions of intimacy and love. Positioned at the intersections of literary criticism, queer studies, and male studies, Gibson deconstructs Baldwin's wrestling with familial love, American identity, suicide, art, incarceration, and memory by magnifying the potent idea of salvific manhood. Ultimately, Salvific Manhood calls for an alternate reading of Baldwin's novels, introducing new theories for understanding the intricacies of African American manhood and American identity, all within a space where the presence of tragedy can give way to the possibility of salvation.​  


Ernest L. Gibson III is an associate professor of English and the co-director of Africana studies at Auburn University.    


"Ernest L. Gibson III has given us a beautifully crafted, truly imaginative, and fresh approach to James Baldwin's work. . . . [It] will be of interest to students and scholars of literary and cultural studies, queer studies, and even religious studies. This is truly an incredibly rich and creative work of scholarship that is not to be missed!"—Dwight A. McBride, coeditor of the James Baldwin Review  

"Salvific Manhood pioneers a timely and provocative discussion of James Baldwin's revolutionary ideas on black masculinity. Professor Gibson reenvisions Baldwin's novels through fraternal bonds between lovers, kin, and friends, elaborating politics of salvation that simultaneously trouble and bridge spirituality and the erotic."—Magdalena J. Zaborowska, author of Me and My House: James Baldwin's Last Decade in France