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Ralph Ellison- a Bibliography

In: English and Literature

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Annotated bibliography (entries in alphabetical order):
RALPH ELLISON

Blake, Susan L. “Ritual and Rationalization: Black Folklore in the Works of Ralph Ellison.” Modern Language Association of America (PMLA) 94.1 (1979): 121-136. Print.
Summary:
One of the main themes in the work of Ralph Ellison is the search for cultural identity. Ellison bridges the gap between the uniqueness and the universality of black experience by his use of black folklore. Blake reviews his work and discovers that it is packed full of folktales and tellers, trinkets, toasts, songs, sermons, jazz, jive, and jokes. She delves into Invisible Man explicitly, but also analyses his most important short stories. Additionally, Blake evaluates other critics’ comments on his dependency on Western mythology, as well as explains Ellison’s final result of rationalization in tackling racial issues by his use of rituals in his writing.

Relevance:
This article is important when researching the symbolism in Ellison’s work. Especially Blake’s extensive reading and explanation of the presence of rituals in his novel are significant (p. 134) and could be useful when researching ritual as a recurring theme in (black) literature.

Booth, W. J. “The Color of Memory: Reading Race with Ralph Ellison.” Political Theory 36.5 (2008): 683-707. Print.
Summary:
In this article, Booth investigates which multiple aspects enumerate to one ‘cultural identity’. Color, memory, and identity together belong to the struggle over racial justice in the U.S., a battle in part to recognize the past, of which color is the visible reminder and to fashion an American identity that does not seek to render it invisible. Ralph Ellison's writings on memory and race, and particularly his defining work the Invisible Man map these issues and ways of approaching them.
Evaluation:
This essay could form the foundation for a research in how collective memory and other factors that add up to the definition of ‘race’ and what it means in contemporary (American) society.

Lyne, William. “The Signifying Modernist: Ralph Ellison and the Limits of the Double Consciousness.” Modern Language Association of America (PMLA) 107.2 (1992): 318-330. Print.
Summary:
In this article, William Lyne focuses on the presence of double consciousness as a major theme in Ralph Ellison’s work. Lyne says that ‘Ellison’s double consciousness is a sword that cuts two ways,’ and spends the rest of the article displaying multiple critics’ arguments for and against Ellison’s credibility as a writer. Lyne also underlines the debate about whether Invisible Man is a modernist text or not, and substantiates this with extensive research and statements by other critics.

Evaluation:
This article is not only interesting when researching Ellison’s versatility as a writer, but also a great stepping stone to find out more about other valuable references and sources regarding double consciousness.

Polsgrove, Carol. Divided Minds: Intellectuals and the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Norton, 2001. Print.

Summary:
The role of the intellectual in politics and in print is often most vexing when the two fields are combined. In Divided Minds, Carol Polsgrove studies intellectuals who employed this combination in their publications from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s. Her book is an examination of a select group of mostly male writers, academics, and journalists, including Ralph Ellison. She describes, in particular, the political disillusion from which his novel Invisible Man was born, which elaborates on the relationship between black identity and Marxism (of which Ellison was a fierce supporter).

Evaluation:
Polsgrove analyses the political views by writers and other public figures (like Ralph Ellison) during the Civil Rights Movement. This makes it an eligible source for any research conducted with a particular political focus.

Warren, Robert Penn. Who Speaks for the Negro. New York: Random, 1965. Print.
Summary:
This is an anthropological anthology of Warren’s research into and interviews with people from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, even though Warren himself refuses to call it this way. Ellison discusses Du Bois's theory of African American's double consciousness, concluding that African Americans must determine how they might influence the American culture that is one-half of their consciousness. Together with the Lyne article, it could be invaluable to someone’s essay about Ellison and his view on double consciousness. It used to be out of print, yet was re-released in 2014 by Yale University Press, but is also available to listen online.
Evaluation:
This book is an incredibly extensive account of interviews conducted with intellectuals surrounding the Civil Rights Movement, which makes it a viable source for any research centered on the 1950s and 60s, from simple background information to analyses of specific novels or publications.…...

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