POSTPONED due to coronavirus

Please join us June 17-20, 2021

Barring unforseen circumstances, all 2020 keynote speakers and creative faculty will participate next year

2021 in Saint Paul de Vence

Program and Schedule

Click here to sponsor an emerging artist, activist or academic to attend the conference.

Speakers and Faculty


Closing Keynote: Cornel West

Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

He has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

Dr. West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He made his film debut in the Matrix – and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in over 25 documentaries and films including Examined LifeCall & ResponseSidewalk and Stand.

He has produced three spoken word albums including Never Forget, collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One and the late Gerald Levert. His spoken word interludes are featured on productions by Terence Blanchard, The Cornel West Theory, Raheem DeVaughn, and Bootsy Collins.

Opening Keynote: Magdalena Zaborowska

Magdalena J. Zaborowska (B.A., M.A., Warsaw University, Poland [1987]; Ph.D., University of Oregon [1992]), is a Professor in the Departments of American Culture and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.


Her research and teaching fields include literary and cultural studies; approaches to intersections of social space and transatlantic discourses on race, nationality, (queer) sexuality, and gender; African American literature (esp., James Baldwin); immigrant ethnicities, feminist, and critical race theory; and post-totalitarian East-Central Europe. She has taught and been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Oregon, Furman University, Tulane University, Aarhus University in Denmark, University of Italy in Cagliari (Sardinia) and Université Paul-Valéry in Montpellier in France.

Her books include Me and My House: James Baldwin's Last Decade in France (Duke UP, 2018) the MLA award-winning James Baldwin’s Turkish Decade: Erotics of Exile (Duke UP 2009) and How We Found America: Reading Gender through East European Immigrant Narratives (University of North Carolina Press, 1995). She edited and co-edited the collections Other Americans, Other Americas: The Politics and Poetics of Multiculturalism (Aarhus University Press, 1998), The Puritan Origins of American Sex: Religion, Sexuality, and National Identity in American Literature (Routledge, 2001), and Over the Wall/After the Fall: Post-Communist Cultures in the East-West Gaze (Indiana University Press, 2004).

Her current projects include  curating a unique archive of images of James Baldwin's former home and its contents, now in development as a virtual writer's museum and curricular resource at the University of Michigan. She has been collaborating on a similar project  with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, NMAAHC/Smithsonian. These projects are the subject of an e-book monograph in progress, Archiving James Baldwin’s House.

Two other books in the works include  Racing Borderlands –   on the intersectionalities of literary representations of racialized national identities, museums, and culture animation projects across the Atlantic – and a stab at transnational intellectual life writing, whose title has not as yet revealed itself.

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Faculty in Prose: Rebecca Walker

NEW! Cross genre workshop in fiction & nonfiction

Rebecca Walker has authored seven bestselling books on subjects ranging from intergenerational feminism and multiracial identity to Black Cool and ambivalent motherhood, and written dozens of articles on topics as varied as Barack Obama’s masculinity, the work of visual artist Ana Mendieta, and the changing configuration of the American family. Rebecca has developed film and television projects with NBC, BET, and HBO, produced the Amy J Berg documentary This Is Personal about the Women’s March with Paramount Films, written on the Amazon shows One Mississippi as well as Jill Soloway’s new untitled project, and spoken at over four hundred universities and corporate campuses internationally, including Harvard, Facebook and TEDx Lund in Sweden.


When she was 21, she co-founded the Third Wave Fund for the empowerment of young women aged 15-30, which continues to make grants to women and transgender youth working for social justice. Currently, Rebecca is working on several projects including a new novel, the film adaptation of her first novel, Adé: A Love Story with Bruce Cohen and Kimberly Steward, an interactive journal called What’s Your Story: Free Your Mind, Find Your Truth, Live Your Best Damn Life (Sounds True, 2020), and a collection on Women and Money to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2020. Rebecca has won many awards and has been named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential leaders of her generation. She lives in Los Angeles.

Faculty in Playwriting: ​Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include Taboo, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, Pleasure Dome, Talking Dirty to the Gods, Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, Testimony, The Emperor of Water Clocks, and Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth, forthcoming in 2020. His honors include the William Faulkner Prize (Université Rennes, France), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award.


His plays, performance art and libretti include The Deacons, Wakonda’s Dream, Saturnalia, Testimony, Gilgamesh: a verse play, and Somewhere Near Here (Bright Darkness). He is Distinguished Senior Poet and Global Professor at New York University.

Faculty in Poetry: Cornelius Eady

Cornelius Eady is the author of eight books of poetry. In 1996, Eady and the poet Toi Derricote founded Cave Canem, a nonprofit organization serving black poets of various backgrounds and acting as a safe space for intellectual engagement and critical debate. 


His honors include the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He has served as director of the Poetry Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, New York University, City College of New York, The Writer's Voice, The College of William and Mary, Sweet Briar College and the University of Missouri.


Eady was raised in Rochester, New York and is currently Professor of English at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton.

Faculty in Nonfiction: Ed Pavlic


Author of eleven books, including Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listeners (Fordham University Press, 2017) and pieces in over sixty magazines, Ed Pavlić is an American writer whose work travels across—often blurring—genres: poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and scholarship. Centered in African American and diasporic life and culture, most of his work explores racial dynamics in the experiences of persons—fictive, actual, historical and contemporary—whose placement and perspectives aren’t neatly classifiable in contemporary vocabularies, theirs or ours.

His awards include The American Poetry Review / Honickman First Book Award (2001), The National Poetry Series Open Competition (2012, 2014), The Author of the Year Award from the Georgia Writer’s Association (2009), and the Darwin Turner Memorial Award from African American Review (1997). He is Distinguished Research Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Georgia and lives in Athens, GA with his family.

Faculty in Fiction: Nafissa Thompson-Spires


Nafissa Thompson-Spires is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Cornell University. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the McSweeney’s column “The Organist,” The Paris Review Daily, Dissent, Buzzfeed Books, The White Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and other publications. Her short story “Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology” won StoryQuarterly’s 2016 Fiction Prize, judged by Mat Johnson. 

Her first book, Heads of the Colored People, was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize; was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction; and has won the PEN Open Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and an Audie Award. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award.

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Lynnée Denise

Conference Emcee

DJ Lynnée Denise is an artist, scholar and writer whose work reflects on underground cultural movements, the 1980s, migration studies, theories of escape and electronic music of the African Diaspora. Through interactive workshops, lectures and presentations, Lynnée Denise harnesses music as a medium for vital public dialogue on how to transform the way that music of the Black Atlantic is understood in its social context and beyond entertainment. Lynnée Denise’s DJ Scholarship has been featured at institutions such as the Broad Museum, the Tate Modern, Savvy Contemporary Gallery Berlin, Goldsmiths University of London, Iziko South African Museum, Stanford, Yale, NYU and Princeton University.


Her writing has been featured in the  Los Angeles Review of Books, The Black Scholar Journal, The Journal of Popular Music Studies  and as part of anthologies including  Women Who Rock  and  Outside the XY: Queer Black and Brown Masculinity.  Lynnée Denise has a BA from historically Black Fisk University, an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of California Riverside. She is currently a Visiting Artist at Stanford University’s Institute of Diversity in the Arts.  

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More than 120 academics, activists and artists speak on dozens of panels, roundtables and craft classes

See full conference program here

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Les Amis de la Maison Baldwin is fiscally sponsored by FJC, a U.S. 501c3 public charity. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

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