|Sloan and Reneise helping one of our awesome readers!|
If you missed our kickoff lecture by WashU's Dr. William Maxwell, please take a look at it by clicking the links below. It was an incredibly informative and motivating discussion, with lots of audience participation.
Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 1
- The novel is full of dialogue, full of interruption, music interfering with high-falutin' conversation.
- The novel deals with the very bottom of American racism, but it wants to envision a way out.
- This is a book that wants its length, its density. It's a book of the world.
- It was a representative text of the black world (mid-century).
- It has a habit of winning prizes...the National Book Award, 1953, the first African-American author to win the prize.
- Ellison is one of the most willfully American authors.
Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 2
- It is not only the representative African-American text of 20th century, it is perhaps the American novel of the long 20th century, at the period of America's greatest cultural, economic, and political influence.
- For a long time, this was the earliest introduction to many Americans of the complexities of the African-American experience.
- Ellison did not have a dramatic life, no paparazzi.
- The Great Migration - a huge, voluntary movement - 7 million Americans, eventually
- Ellison is from Oklahoma City, not part of the Great Migration - ironic, because Invisible Man is a great novel of the Migration
- Oklahoma City has an important African-American community, but it's more southwestern, not part of the south-to-north story
- Ellison almost sees himself as a cowboy
- Attracted to ideas of individual character and strength
- Ellison didn't believe he should talk about his own experience of suffering
- He wanted to talk about racism with a sense of the highest artistic potential
- Importance of Ellison's essay "The World and the Jug"
- Proponent of the necessary mixing of groups
- Ellison was looking for plurality
Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 3
- Ellison grew up in difficult circumstances
- His mother, widowed, was a Socialist
- Wins a music scholarship to Tuskegee
- Arrives at Tuskegee and is beaten at the rail station by two white policeman
- Still, Ellison's work emphasizes transcendence, culturally you can build something better
- Ellison's second novel, Juneteenth, was never finished - it haunted him
- Ellison was very technologically adept - assembled his own stereo, an early adopter of word processing for his writing
Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 4
- First paragraph of the prologue: what kind of person speaks this way? he's educated (choice of vocabulary), he's a fan of American popular culture, elite reference to Edgar Allan Poe, someone who can move between levels of culture and discourse
- Ellison desires to create a highly intellectualized hero, a thinker
Apologies - the last part of the lecture didn't record properly...
Dr. William Maxwell Lecture, 5
- Importance of Louis Armstrong, reference to the song "What Did I Do to Be so Black and Blue?"
- Why is Invisible Man's favorite dessert vanilla ice cream with sloe gin?