Friday, May 25, 2018

Kicking off Invisible Man!

Sloan and Reneise helping one of our awesome readers!
We had a great crowd for our Big Book Challenge Kickoff event on Wednesday!  If you weren't able to make it, don't worry - all books that were on hold before the event are now on the hold shelf waiting for you.  And if you're still waiting for a copy, we've got more on order and they'll be in very soon.  Still interested in signing up?  Just fill out our RSVP survey.

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?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for recording and posting this!