Discussion Questions to Create Writing Prompts:
Culture in the 1930’s was defined by new racial tension in the North due to the migration of so many african american’s to big cities. How might the cultural conflict surrounding Ellison’s novel in the midst of segregation, Jim Crow, and the Great Depression have influenced the novel?
Black people in the 1930’s were culturally “visible”. For the first time they were the spotlight of many of the arts, literature, and anti-lynching bill in 1937, and political parties to gain votes since all were equal in ballot counts. Even with all of this, why was the narrator still characterized as invisible?
What institutions/events today allow a person with a name and a story to remain unknown just as long as the greater population is grouped for a cause?
What aspects of the end of the novel further the argument that the narrator has found himself? What further the point that he may have lost himself?
As a student, what does this novel teach about creating your own identity vs. conforming to the ways of the world as it wants us to be? In what ways does your life apply to the experiences of the narrator?
How have you been disappointed heavily in your life from something that was not as good as you thought it to be? How can you relate this back to Ellison and thinking about what this disappointment did to the narrator?
Quote from Ellison regarding Invisible Man society
Resources for Further Reading:
Fiction, photography, and the cultural construction of racial identity in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man by Joseph Millichap: South Atlantic Review. 76.4 (Fall 2011): p129.
Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995. Print.
Editors, Biography.com. "Ralph Ellison." Biography.com. A&E Networks Television, 08 July 2014. Web. 05 Apr. 2017.
1. The focal point of the "dear reader" section is to show this project is for both students and teachers attempting to teach this book. This will be followed more clearly with the discussion questions and historical context. The goal of the multi-genre project is to tackle a long and difficult text, but understand only pieces or plot sections can be discussed. For example...some lessons only include the reading of the battle royal scene or the riot ending
2. Invisible Man at the theater was a widely successful adaptation of invisible man. The two articles/reviews of the show not only bring clarity to the text but also give the opportunity for a class or student pursuing a written response to see a visual form of the text. The play brings out the use of lights, the underground, and the personal thoughts of the unnamed narrator
3. The expository piece is written to show the goal of the project. Also, to create early on the questions that should be swirling in a student's head as they read the text and think on possible writing prompts. The case for women, African Americans, invisibility, etc. are presented.
4. The historical context of the novel is coupled with a running stream of images showing what is happening in and around 1940's-50's Harlem. Key historical figures are shown as well as crucial events to the development of the text.
5. Literary criticism from Saul Bellow, one of the most renowned reviewers of Ellison's time, as well as a review from Joseph Millichap are shown. In this way students can see how the novel was perceived from critics and the popular majority. Teachers can use this genre to teach argumentative pieces and give some more cultural insight
6. I included a photography genre to show some images of how the novel could be visualized. The majority of the images actually come from the Gordon Parks Foundation that worked with Ellison to create a visualized piece of the major scenes of the text. So, this is a rare case of a genre inspired by the original author.
7. In two places in the genre project, I included an interactive timeline: one of the historical events around the novel's publication, and another of the timeline of the novel's actual events. These can be viewed side by side to see exactly what happens, when it happens, and how historical significance affects events in the novel.
8. I inserted a few discussion questions I thought up and researched regarding teacher prompt ideas and student "questions to think through". This genre can guide classroom discussion, target student reading and attention, as well as let students begin thinking through a genre of writing early on in the reading.
9. I included a film trailer/short segment adaptation as a genre to provide another visual element. Also, this could be an example for a possible student assignment to create a multi-media trailer for a scene from the novel.
10. The bibliography section both gives an example of how to cite writing sources and gives students a place to turn for further investigation.
11. The text in the shape of a man creating an image above provides an interesting take on the famous prologue of Ellison's novel. It may provide a memorable remembrance to the prologue.