Doing│Teaching American Studies Series | Thursday, June 2, 2022, 7:30 PM, online

Deadline (short abstract): May 9, 2022

“I was to dream of a prose which was flexible, and swift as American change is swift, confronting the inequalities and brutalities of our society forthrightly, yet thrusting forth its images of hope, human fraternity and individual self-realization.” (Ralph Waldo Ellison, 1953)

2022 marks 70 years since the publication of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, a novel that was quickly canonized, and that has “eerily foreshadowed” the present moment in US culture (Warren 2018). Its negotiation of in/visibility and the Black subject position in US culture resonates, for instance, with the Black Lives Matter Movement, the New Jim Crow, or the renaissance of the Black Arts. At the same time, Ellison’s literary agenda, a “forthright” confrontation of brutalities and simultaneous “thrusting forth” of foundational US humanist ideals renders Invisible Man a classic of American literature—and a key reference in the interdisciplinary American Studies classroom. So–how teach it today?    

As part of the virtual “Doing│Teaching American Studies” series, “Invisible Man at 70” invites teachers of American Studies (from early career to experienced scholars) to contribute a short exploration of a keyword from Invisible Man: Your keyword-input surveys the meanings of a select character, motif, or historical reference, both in the novel itself and regarding its potential meanings in the (German speaking) American Studies classroom. Keywords could be, for instance, the Yam, Ras the Exhorter, HBCUs, the Zoot Suit, Black masculinities, Post/Modernism, the Harlem Renaissance, In/Visibility and Recognition…tbc!

Our aim for this virtual teach-in on is to combine wide and close readings of keywords for Invisible Man with an exploration of teaching literature as embodied practice, and to contribute a teaching angle on what Ilka Brasch and Alexander Starre (2022) have so poignantly called a turn to “method as practice” in American Studies.  

Please submit your keyword with a short abstract to by May 9, 2022.

Works cited and select bibliography

Brasch, Ilka, and Starre, Alexander. “Method as Practice.” Amerikastudien/American Studies 67.1 (2022): 5 –34.

Callahan, John F., ed. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Casebook. Oxford and New York, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Lavender III, Isiah. “Invisible Women in Invisible Man.” ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews 27.3 (2014): 146-151.

Morel, Lucas E., ed. Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man. Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 2014.

Motyl, Katharina. “Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952).” Handbook of the American Novel of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Ed. Timo Müller. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2017. 278-293.

Posnock, Ross, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Spaulding, A. Timothy. “Embracing Chaos in Narrative Form: The Bebop Aesthetic in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.” Callaloo 27.2 (2004): 481-501.

Warren, Kenneth. “How Invisible Man eerily foreshadowed the events of today.” BBC Culture, Jun 6, 2018.

Yaszek, Lisa. “An Afrofuturist Reading of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.” Rethinking History, 9:2-3 (2005): 297-313.