Invisible Man Syllabus

In honor of the 70th anniversary of the publication of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952, Random House), we are pleased to offer our Invisible Man Syllabus. The books, journal articles, and special issues in this syllabus explore the significance of the novel in relation to art, music, modernism, Blackness, psychiatry, and more.

All included articles in the syllabus are freely available through July 14. Start reading here.

“In exploring the lived experience of a black man’s cultural ‘invisibility’ almost a hundred years ago, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man remains a crucial text for understanding Black Lives Matter in relation to an American history defined by racialized violence,” says Twentieth-Century Literature editor Lee Zimmerman. “At the same time, for all its own failures of vision, the novel points to how the structures of racial invisibility have shaped what, in an American context, ‘mattering’ might mean in the first place.”

Barbara Foley, author of Duke University Press-published Wrestling with the Left: The Making of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, echoes the sentiment of the novel’s critical importance. “At once an embodiment of Cold War ideology and a proclamation of universal humanism, a searing indictment of US racism and an imaginative projection of a world beyond race, Invisible Man is one of the most important novels of the twentieth century.”

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