Presenter Information

Lianna Martin, University of Wyoming

Department

Political Science Department

First Advisor

Dr. Teena Gabrielson

Description

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a classic piece of American literature that details a young African - American m an’s journey of self - discovery. In addition to being a great piece of fiction, Invisible Man also offers an exacting critique of classic African - American political thought and traditional theories of how African - Americans should improve their status in US society. Invisible Man then goes on to establish a sophisticated theory on how best to gain equality for African - Americans. My study examines Invisible Man as a work of political theory, rather than a work of literature, in the context of traditional Afri can - American political theorists. I studied Ellison’s novel in relation to the works of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois and compared their differing views on race relations in America. My paper argues that Ellison intentionally discusses, and then r ejects, the ideas of these theorists as a means of laying the foundation of his own philosophy of equality through self - realization, acceptance, and affirmation of the United States’ democratic principles.

Comments

Oral Present ation, UW Honors Program

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Affirming the Principle: Ralph Ellison’s Critique of Traditional African - American Political Thought

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is a classic piece of American literature that details a young African - American m an’s journey of self - discovery. In addition to being a great piece of fiction, Invisible Man also offers an exacting critique of classic African - American political thought and traditional theories of how African - Americans should improve their status in US society. Invisible Man then goes on to establish a sophisticated theory on how best to gain equality for African - Americans. My study examines Invisible Man as a work of political theory, rather than a work of literature, in the context of traditional Afri can - American political theorists. I studied Ellison’s novel in relation to the works of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B Du Bois and compared their differing views on race relations in America. My paper argues that Ellison intentionally discusses, and then r ejects, the ideas of these theorists as a means of laying the foundation of his own philosophy of equality through self - realization, acceptance, and affirmation of the United States’ democratic principles.