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Invisible Man handout

EN304 Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, 1952

Highly Recommended

Alan Nadel. Ralph Ellison and the American Canon, (University of Iowa Press, 1988)

Ross Posnock. The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison (CUP, 2005)

The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (Norton, 1997)

Ralph Ellison.  Shadow and Act. Vintage, 1972.  (First published 1964)

Some Relevant Chapters in the Secondary Reading

“The Black Experience,” in Bradbury & Temperley, Introduction to American Studies.

“African Americans: I don’t sing other people’s voices,” in Campbell & Kean, American Cultural Studies.

“Popular Music: Jazz,” in Mitchell & Maidment, The United States in the Twentieth Century: Culture.

“Strange Realities, Adequate Fictions,” in Ruland & Bradbury, From Puritanism to Postmodernism.


Isaac Julien dir. Looking For Langston (1989)

dir. Nick Godwin, The Promised Land (BBC TV & Discovery Productions, 1995) (based on Nicholas Lemann, The Promised Land: the Great Black Migration and How it Changed America (Vintage, 1992)

Films of Spike Lee dir. including: Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), Malcolm X (1992),Clockers (1995), Bamboozled (2000).

Further Reading

Houston A. Baker Jr. Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature (University of Chicago Press, 1984)

Houston A. Baker Jr. The Journey Back: Issues in Black Literature and Criticism (University of Chicago Press, 1980)

James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (Black Swan, first published 1954)

Abraham Chapman ed. Black Voices: An Anthology of Afro-American Literature (New American Library, 1968)

Abraham Chapman ed. New Black Voices: An Anthology of Contemporary Afro-American Literature (New American Library, 1972)

Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice (Jonathan Cape, 1969)

Franklin & Moss, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 7th edn (McGraw Hill, 1994)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. “Editor’s Introduction: Writing ‘Race’ and the Difference it Makes,” Critical Inquiry, 12 (Autumn 1985), 1-20.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Black Literature and Literary Theory, (Methuen, 1984)

Henry Louis Gates Jr. The Signifying Monkey (Oxford, 1988)

Richard Wright, Native Son (Penguin, first published 1940)