While Ralph Ellison is perhaps best known for his novel Invisible Man
, he was also a significant twentieth-century intellectual, having authored numerous essays and papers that shaped thought on subjects from jazz to liberalism. Ralph Ellison: The Next Fifty Years
gathers outstanding scholars in the fields of American and African American studies to engage Ellison’s theoretical and critical writings.
Several essays in this collection focus on an area of Ellison’s thinking that has yet to be adequately scrutinized—his study of, and writing about, music, specifically jazz and the blues. Although not a systematic philosopher of music, Ellison exhibited the seriousness and rigor associated with the critical musical writings of Theodor Adorno and Edward Said. Other essays in this special issue examine salient questions raised by Ellison’s work, including the nature of the connection between the novel and the democratic mind, Vietnam and the crisis of liberal society, and the problematic of modernism and freedom. Ralph Ellison addresses the ways in which Ellison’s writings about art were also efforts to think about and discuss political agency.
Contributors. Jonathan Arac, Kevin Bell, Adam Gussow, Ronald A. T. Judy, Robert O’Meally, Donald E. Pease, Barry Shank, Hortense Spillers, Kenneth Warren, Alexander G. Weheliye, John Wright