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Paperback:  $19.75

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Approaches to Teaching Ellison's Invisible Man

Editor(s): Susan Resneck Parr, Pancho Savery

Pages: xi & 154 pp.
Published: 1989
ISBN: 9780873525060

"Stimulating, accessible, and intelligently conceived, this volume...addresses a wide number of central pedagogical issues that anyone teaching the novel must face, while suggesting some interestingly contrastive contexts and methods by which such issues might be tackled. Altogether, the editors have produced a rich and readable volume."
Kimberly W. Benston, editor of Speaking for You: The Vision of Ralph Ellison

The casebound edition of this title is out of print.

Teachers of Invisible Man differ about which aspect of Ralph Ellison's novel deserves the most emphasis. According to Susan Resneck Parr, a coeditor of this volume, "some [teachers] argue that a thematic approach is the most appropriate because the text can and should speak for itself, [while] others are as fervent that the novel cannot be understood unless its readers are informed about the literary, biblical, psychological, musical, philosophical, classical, and historical motifs that permeate it." Most often, how the novel is taught depends on the course in which it is included, the time allotted, and the sophistication of the students. The essays collected in Approaches to Teaching Ellison's Invisible Man reflect this diversity of teaching methods and classroom settings.

This Approaches volume, like others in the MLA series, is divided into two parts. Part 1, "Materials," surveys resources for classroom instruction, such as critical scholarship, and reviews background studies on a variety of topics, including American Communism, Freudian psychology, African American history, and existentialism. In part 2, "Approaches," sixteen contributors suggest a variety of teaching strategies; consider the novel in the context of African American, American, and Western literary traditions, among others; and discuss Ellison's debt to music and folk tradition.

Table of Contents

Approaches to Teaching Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

Pancho Savery

Readings for Students

The Instructor's Library
Critical Studies
Background Studies



Susan Resneck Parr

The Student and Teacher as Readers of Invisible Man

The Use of Culture and Artistic Freedom: The Right of a Minority Writer
James E. Walton

Making Invisible Man Matter
Walter Slatoff

Discovering an Art of the Self in History: A Principle of Afro-American Life
John M. Reilly

Learning to Listen to Lower Frequencies
Gordon O. Taylor

A Deeper Literacy: Teaching Invisible Man from Aboriginal Ground
R. Baxter Miller

The Novel and Its Afro-American, American, and European Traditions

Invisible Man and the American Way of Intellectual History
Wilson J. Moses

"Not like an arrow, but a boomerang": Ellison's Existential Blues
Pancho Savery

Ellison's Narrator as Emersonian Scholar
Eleanor Lyons

"An American Negro Idiom": Invisible Man and the Politics of Culture
Cushing Strout

Losing It "even as he finds it": The Invisible Man's Search for Identity
Christopher Sten

Invisible Man and the European Tradition
Leonard Deutsch

Invisible Man and the Comic Tradition
James R. Andreas

Invisible Man in an Ethnic Literature Course
Neil Nakadate

Teaching the Novel Thematically

Understanding the Lower Frequencies: Names and the Novel
John Cooke

Focusing on the Prologue and the Epilogue
David L. Vanderwerken

"Ball the jack": Surreality, Sexuality, and the Role of Women in Invisible Man
Mary Rohrberger

Sample Study Guides
James R. Andreas
Susan Resneck Parr

Works Cited


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