Will Pruitt is a Chancellor's fellow at UCLA in English & the Ralph Bunche Center for African American Studies, researching representations and narratives of Black U.S. presidents. He'll be joining some of the grad students in the Speculative Fiction emphasis for a discussion of his ongoing research involving a speculative/alternate history novel by Irving Wallace, The Man, which was adapted as a film by Rod Serling (Twilight Zone). See the attached flyer and description below:


TITLE: "Represented and Destroyed by The Man (1964): The Fate of the Critical Black Intellectual in Liberal Fantasies of a Counter-Insurgent Black U.S. Presidency" 


DESCRIPTION: During an interview transcribed and published in Irving Wallace: A Writer's Profile (1974), the titular author narrates an anecdote in which he promises James Baldwin that his 1964 novel, The Man, will smuggle Baldwin's antiracist ideas into white households. The Man not only fails to accomplish this goal; it trains its implied readers to assess Black intellectuals' criticisms of the U.S. with skepticism during a future Black U.S. Presidency. Preemptively, it represents and destroys the critical Black intellectual. Published more than a half-century later, Barack Obama's first presidential memoir, A Promised Land (2020), partially replicates this effect. Comparing intellectual Black figures in Wallace and Obama's epic narratives, Will Pruitt will demonstrate how the liberal fantasy of a Black U.S. Presidency has attempted to undermine critical Black thought for more than half-a-century. This fantasy, initiated by liberals during the early decades of the Cold War and promoted by them since then, constantly evolves, "rationalizing violence," to quote Jodi Melamed, "in the new racial capitalism."   


BRIEF BIOGRAPHY: Will Pruitt is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of English and the Ralph J.  Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA. With expertise in the Black Radical Tradition, Black feminism, Black queer studies, Black performance studies, and U.S. literature, he’s writing a book manuscript entitled, “Black U.S. Presidents During the Jim Crow Era: A History of Hypotheticals.” The most recent issue of the James Baldwin Review includes his historiographic essay on biographies about Baldwin. 

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