Segments in this Video

Multicultural Writer (02:14)


Charles Johnson, a Seattle writer, draws from both Eastern and Western traditions against the backdrop of African-American history. Johnson talks about his childhood.

Art and Journalism (01:50)

Charles Johnson's philosophy of writing resulted in an impressive body of philosophical fiction. Johnson's education grew out of the 1960s. He blended art and journalism, and learned more about crafting his fiction.

Black Humor (02:01)

Johnson's first book of cartoons is about American racism. He discusses black humor and the rise of the Black Power movement. These cultural phenomena affected his art and his writing.

College for Charles Johnson (01:13)

In college, Johnson pursued journalism and philosophy. He pursued philosophy in graduate school.

Marxism (02:23)

As Johnson immersed himself in philosophy, he began to drift away from cultural nationalism and the black arts movement. He found himself immersed in Marxism.

Philosophical Questions (01:37)

Johnson's interests turned towards older black artists. Viewers see part of his collection of African artifacts. He questioned at one time whether he was a writer or an artist. A basic philosophical question is "What makes us human?"

Martial Arts & Writing (03:34)

Charles Johnson has studied Buddhism since 1980. He explains his philosophical connection to Buddhism. Johnson discusses the links between martial arts and writing.

Writing Regimen (02:17)

While in college, Johnson forced himself to write 10 pages per day. He produced six novels in that time. He committed himself to developing a genuinely systematic and philosophical black American literature.

First Novel (02:44)

A portion of Johnson's first novel "Faith and the Good Thing" is narrated. In 1990, John won the National Book Award. Johnson discusses the legacy left by Ralph Ellison.

Character Analysis (01:31)

Critics say that most of Johnson's characters are philosophical and intellectual. Johnson explains why this is. Viewers learn about "Middle Passage."

Categories of Literature (01:32)

Johnson teaches creative writing at the University of Washington. He discusses how the categorization of literature prevents the discovery of the richness and complexity of life itself. Johnson blends categories.

Literary Theme (01:23)

Johnson mixes genre, a phenomena that reflects itself in his theme that wisdom and truth derive not from any one perspective but from the continual interaction of cultures and ideas. Juxtaposed images reveal cultural tensions to viewers.

Credits: Charles Johnson (01:35)

Credits: Charles Johnson

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Charles Johnson

DVD Price: $99.95



This program shows how Charles Johnson, a quintessential multicultural novelist, blends black folk tales, Zen parables, 18th-century picaresque novels, and 20th-century philosophy into storytelling of remarkable vitality. Here, Johnson explains that he explores metaphysical questions against the backdrop of black American life. Oxherding Tales and Middle Passage are odysseys in search of individual identity and common values among conflicting cultures. Johnson concludes, "I am looking for the universal in particulars of black experience. We are cultural variations on one world experience." (29 minutes)

Length: 28 minutes

Item#: BVL4624

Copyright date: ©1994

Closed Captioned

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Recommended by School Library Journal.

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Only available in USA, Australia, Canada and United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.