Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (LIT2277.01)

Benjamin Anastas

“All novels are about certain minorities,” Ralph Ellison insisted in a 1955 interview with The Paris Review. “The individual is a minority,” he went on. “The universal in the novel–and isn’t that what we’re all clamoring for these days?–is reached only through the depiction of the specific man in a specific circumstance.” If this assertion is still to be believed, then the the enduring power of Ellison’s Invisible Man (1953) lies in both the specific features of its depiction of African-American life in the 20th Century and the literary and philosophical traditions that Ellison embraced in order to tell this story. We’ll read Ellison’s only complete novel slowly and carefully over the full fourteen weeks of the term, alongside influences like Dostoevsky, Richard Wright, James Joyce, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and T.S. Eliot, as well as more contemporary writers on race in America. We’ll also explore the Black musical traditions (Jazz and Blues) that help animate the novel’s language and ideas.

Learning Outcomes:

Delivery Method: Entirely remote (synchronous)
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 2
Tu 4:10PM - 6:00PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 20
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Entirely Remote , Literature
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