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Every Cook Can Govern: CLR James & the canon


Reflecting on his youth and schooling in Trinidad, CLR James was positive about his education and did not scorn the contributions of classical and Western culture to world civilization. ‘I denounce European colonialism’, wrote CLR James but ‘I, a man of the Caribbean, have found that it is in the study of Western literature, Western philosophy and Western history that I have found out the things that I have found out, even about the underdeveloped countries’. In this extraordinary launch debate on CLR James and the canon, in the Oval’s historic pavilion, a panel of luminaries provide us with fascinating insights on what we can learn from one of the great figures of the 20th Century. For those who know little of CLR James, this is a great place to start too.

Recommended links:

Launch debate details


WORLDbytes podcast: CLR James last interview

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Django said:

Selwyn Cudjoe underestimates the impact of Western political thought on James.

Francis said:

Alan Hudson makes some brilliant points about cricket.

Harriet said:

Enjoyable debate: Claire makes some interesting points on the canon.

Charles said:

Wow, an impressive line-up of speakers.

Di said:

Such an interesting historical figure. I wish there were more initiatives to discover the legacies of underrated heroes like CLR James…

Julian Richards said:

I enjoyed the guy who spoke on cricket most- very passionate and impressive.

Andre P said:

Excellent debate thank you for sharing this lovely to see a bit of the Oval too

Piotr said:

I think the canon is a very important idea in education as, when it is taught well, what happens is that the next generation begins to understand what has happened, maybe also why, and what was thought and said about it. To attack the canon as such seems to me to be very foolish, whether you agree with it all or not is an ongoing debate.

Sarah J said:

Thoroughly enjoyed watching this and learned a lot actually especially the points on the canon by Ms Fox and on universalism wish i could have attended thank you for showing this.

Laura said:

How brilliant of Worldbytes to get such an interesting group of scholars in one room and on one panel! A really great debate.

Will said:

I found this debate to be more a mutual appreciation of a man’s life and work than a discussion of the legitimacy of including the works of CLR James into the Literary Canon. That’s all well and good, and the debate does provide some fascinating insights into the character of CLR James and would prove invaluable to those starting off on a Jamesian odyssey. It may have been nice, though, to hear some of the notions problematising James’ inclusion.