Salvific Manhood


Salvific Manhood

James Baldwin's Novelization of Male Intimacy

Ernest L. Gibson III

Expanding Frontiers: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Series

246 pages


October 2019


$45.00 Add to Cart

November 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2019


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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.​

Author Bio

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


"The author finds an edifying connection between the sanctuary the black church offered and the potential space of intimacy the body offered. Gibson engages in close readings of five seismic novels in the Baldwin canon, masterfully walking readers through the journey of John's forgotten birthday in Go Tell It on the Mountain and the streets of David's Paris in Giovanni's Room. This excellent study may interest those studying religion as well those in the disciplines of literature and cultural studies."—A. P. Pennino, Choice

“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

Table of Contents

Introduction: In Search of the Fraternal
1. Wrestling for Salvation: Denial, Longing, and the Beauty of Brotherhood in Go Tell It on the Mountain
2. Flight, Freedom, and Abjection: Fractured Manhood and Tragic Love in Giovanni’s Room
3. Alone in the Absurd: The Trope of Tragic Black Manhood in Another Country
4. Theatrics of Mask-ulinity: Radical Male Intimacy and Black Power in Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone
5. Concrete Jungles and the Carceral: Exploring Confinement and Imprisonment in If Beale Street Could Talk
Conclusion: Somewhere in That Wreckage


2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Also of Interest