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Reader Series: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man pioneered a new literary style, broke new ground for a generation of black writers, and provided insights on American race relations that stand to this day. In this class, we will discuss the central themes, symbols, and metaphors of the novel. We will analyze the novel as a Bildungsroman and as cultural archaeology. We will 'trouble' accepted readings of the novel and give attention to criticism on the novel, both by Ellison and other literary scholars. And we will make connections between Invisible Man and our present day America. 

Take three weeks to read and discuss one of the most important novels in American history.

Instructor: Dr. Brenda R. Smith retired from her position as Associate Professor, English, at Kent State University, Stark County Campus, in 2019. During her tenure at Kent State Stark, she taught American, African American, and modernist literatures, women’s literature, and freshman composition. Dr. Smith earned both her B.A. in English and her Ph.D. in American and African American literatures from Case Western Reserve University. She earned her M.A. in American literature from Cleveland State University. Her doctoral dissertation, The Construction of BiCultural Subjectivity in African American Migrant Autobiography, which earned her Case Western Reserve University’s distinguished Neil McIntyre Memorial Essay Award and Kent State University’s Regional Campus Professional Development Award, explored the relationship between African Americans’ involuntary immigration to and voluntary migration within the United States and their formation of American subjectivity. Her current research interests include the study of immigrant/migrant autobiography and the construction of American subjectivity, and the evolution of the Bildungsroman (coming-of-age) literary form in African American women’s writing.  

Online class info: This class will meet online on Saturdays from 1-3pm using Zoom video conferencing. On the first day of class, we will give you a tutorial on how to use Zoom. Once you sign on using the instructions we will provide, you will be able to see and talk with your instructor and your fellow participants—just like you would in one of our meeting rooms. All you need is a good internet connection and a computer or smartphone with a camera and microphone. Not sure if your system is compatible? Just click here. Have any questions about online classes? Email or call associate director Matt Weinkam at‍

Details: Reader Series: Insivisble Man with Brenda Smith takes place Saturdays June 13, 20, & 27 from 1-3pm remotely through Zoom. 

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