Neil Baldwin (writer)

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Neil Baldwin
Born New York City, New York
Occupation Writer, professor
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Rochester,
State University of New York at Buffalo
Subject Theater, Art, American business history

Neil Baldwin is the author of a variety of books on various topics related to history and culture, and a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Montclair State University.[1]

Baldwin earned a B.A. in English from the University of Rochester, and a Ph.D. in Modern American Poetry from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was the editor of The Niagara Magazine between 1974 and 1982, and worked in fundraising for the New York Public Library between 1984 and 1989.[2] He was the director of the National Book Foundation from its founding in 1989 until his resignation in 2003.[3]

Themes in writings

Baldwin describes a common thread in some of his work as follows:

" first two subjects were William Carlos Williams, the poet and physician and probably, you could say, the precursor of--of modern poetry in America today. And the second subject was Man Ray, who was the photographer and painter who was also a great American figure. And I viewed Man Ray as a quintessential modernist figure. And what I did was if--William Carlos Williams, I was talking about a genre and the history of a genre. And then I decided the most important thing after that would be to try to define a period as a whole, the modern period as a whole, so Man Ray to me was the metaphor for the modernist period in art."

"And then I thought, 'Well, I've dealt with two highly creative individuals, and I've explored their imaginations.' But I wanted to make the point that creativity and imagination are not the sole province of the artist, the--the humanist thinker. I wanted to show that invention, which was actually defined as an art in Edison's time--it was actually called the art of invention. I wanted to show that the inventive process, the creative process, they all stem from the--the--the deepest core of the imagination in--in a human being, and I wanted to connect all those creative processes in the context of an American vision."

"And if you look at the time frame for these three books--William Carlos Williams, Man Ray, Thomas Edison--they all begin sort of in the last vestiges of the industrial era and the romantic era in culture and they pass through the cataclysm of the wars and they end up sort of on the threshold of--of our day. And so I do think they all connect, even though on first blush it is--it's hard to see the connection, but I think there is a connection."[4]


P literature.svg This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Title Year Publisher Subject matter
To All Gentleness: William Carlos Williams, the Doctor Poet 1984 Atheneum Books William Carlos Williams
Man Ray: American Artist
(Baldwin used this book in writing the screenplay for the PBS American Masters documentary Man Ray: Prophet of the Avant-Garde.)
1988 Clarkson Potter Man Ray
Edison: Inventing the Century 1995 Hyperion Books Thomas Edison
Legends of the Plumed Serpent: Biography of a Mexican God 1998 PublicAffairs Quetzalcoatl
Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate 2001 PublicAffairs Henry Ford, The International Jew, The Dearborn Independent
The American Revelation: Ten Ideals That Shaped Our Country From the Puritans to the Cold War 2006 St. Martin's Press John Winthrop; The Massachusetts Bay Company
Thomas Paine; Common Sense
Pierre Eugene du Simitiere; E pluribus unum
Ralph Waldo Emerson; Self-Reliance
John L. O'Sullivan; Manifest destiny
Henry George; Progress and Poverty
Jane Addams; Hull House
Israel Zangwill; The Melting Pot
Carter G. Woodson; Association for the Study of African American Life and History
George Marshall; The Marshall Plan


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External links

  • Official website
  • Baldwin's blog as Director of the Creative Research Center at Montclair State University
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • Booknotes interview with Baldwin on Edison: Inventing the Century, March 19, 1995.
    • Baldwin discussing The American Revelation June 13, 2005 on C-SPAN's After Words
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