Friday, January 29, 2016

Speak Your Mind! Daily Discussion Forum

The Limited Vision of Others

Ultimately, it is the limited vision of others that causes the narrator’s identity to become subverted again and again. His attempts to gain visibility are a direct consequence of his beliefs of the ideology of others (Barbee and Bledsoe’s message, Brother Jack and the Brotherhood). It is only when he starts to break away from the Brotherhood does he finally begin to understand himself.
“A glass eye. A buttermilk white eye distorted by the light rays. An eye staring fixedly at me as from the dark waters of the well. Then I was looking at him standing above me, outlined by the light against the darkened half of the wall” (Ellison 466).
“I looked at him again as for the first time, seeing a little bantam rooster of a man with a high-domed forehead and a raw eye-socket that wouldn’t quite accept its lid. I looked at him carefully now with some of the red spots fading and with the feeling that I was just awakening from a dream” (Ellison 468).
“I looked at his eye. So he knows how I feel. Which eye is really the blind one?” (Ellison 470).
Questions to consider:  How do the above quotations support the argument that the limited vision of others is causing the subversion of the narrator’s identity? How does the motifs of light versus dark (especially in the quote listed above) relate to the idea of visibility versus invisibility?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Speak Your Mind! Daily Discussion Forum


The above link is a link to a podcast that discusses Invisible Man – more importantly, it also discusses the narrator’s identity crisis, and reflects on how the people around him impose their own identities and beliefs upon him, making it difficult for him to conform to any one standard. Such an idea is, once again, applicable to Lacan’s mirror stage: the narrator is impressed with so many outside influences that he cannot disregard their beliefs in favor of his own.
One such outside influence is the Brotherhood – the narrator sees with them an opportunity to finally be “visible” and gain a true identity, yet his attempts are flawed once more. His passion for the Brotherhood’s beliefs is somewhat similar to his passion for the Founder’s philosophy earlier on in the book: he was fully committed to them both, yet one has to wonder if he became committed and devoted not because he truly believed in the ideas, but rather because it was a mode of acceptance and an easy way for him to gain a more coherent sense of self.
Listen to the podcast and consider the following questions.  What are your opinions? How is his passion for the beliefs of the Brotherhood any different than his passion for the beliefs of the Founder? What makes them more genuine/less genuine?
Post your response before class time tomorrow.  Also respond to at least one classmate's post.  Please try to stretch their comments as much as you praise them.  Do not be afraid to question, reference the text, or respectfully challenge.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Speak Your Mind! Daily Discussion Forum

Jacques Lacan, a post-structuralist (a movement closely associated with post-modernism) developed an idea called the ‘mirror stage’, one that I believe is extremely applicable to the ideas Ellison expresses throughout Invisible Man. He writes that a child, at a young age, sees himself in a mirror and equates the image of wholeness he sees in his reflection to the identity he should achieve in his life (the ideal-I). Yet the child’s identity is fragmented and subverted as he attempts to attain this image of a whole identity, due to the perceptions of others, and social and cultural restraints (social-I).
 Lacan writes, “The mirror stage is a drama whose internal pressure pushes precipitously from insufficiency to anticipation—and, for the subject caught up in the lure of spatial identification, turns out fantasies that proceed from a fragmented image of the body to what I will call an “orthopedic” form of its totality—and to the finally donned armor of an alienating identity that will mark his entire mental development with rigid structure” (6).
At the novel’s beginning it becomes quickly apparent that the narrator does not have his own identity. His identity and persona are based off of the beliefs of others, and he holds no concrete beliefs of his own: instead, he dutifully adheres to what Bledsoe, the college, and Southern society itself have drilled into his mind over the years. By conforming to the ideology of others, the narrator lives under the mistaken assumption that he is ‘visible’ to others, though his invisibility has never been clearer. Take, for example, Mr. Norton.
“Through the rear-view mirror I could see him studying a wafer-thin watch, replacing it in the pocket of his checked waistcoat. His shirt was soft silk, set off with blue-and-white polka dotted bow tie. His manner was aristocratic, his movements dapper and suave” (Ellison 37).
“…I identified myself with the rich man reminiscing on the rear seat…” (Ellison 39).
“When I took a quick glance into the mirror he was smiling again. I wanted to ask him if being rich and famous and helping to direct the school to become what it was wasn’t enough ; but I was afraid” (Ellison 44).
When the narrator looks into the mirror, he only sees Mr. Norton instead of his own reflection. He is invisible in that he never once looks at his own reflection, but instead keeps worriedly looking in the direction of Mr. Norton. How can the concept of Lacan’s mirror stage can be applied quite literally to this scenario?  Please post your response before class time tomorrow.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Invisible Man Discussion

As a group, please create 3-5 questions, comments, realizations, and/or wonderings about the article you read over the weekend, "Off the Margin," by Dr. Walter Jacobs.

Dr. Jacobs was born and raised near Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently Dean of the College of Social Sciences at San Jose State University.  He received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Indiana University. 

Dr. Jacobs holds a doctorate in sociology and has published multiple works, including a book on undergraduate media literacy, a memoir about "sociological ghosts," Ghostbox. 

As you create your questions, consider the following:

1. Did the article increase your understanding of the novel, Invisible Man?  How so?  How not?

2. Does the article raise any new questions or wonderings about Ellison's intent, themes, importance?

3. Do you have any questions for the author?  (For example: race in America, invisibility as a black man in America, stereotyping, growing up black in America (South), growing up smart and black in the South, collective identity of Black/White America, individual identity in Black/White America,  why he thinks Invisible Man is an important novel, diversity in America.)

Remember that you will be corresponding with a dean of a university sociology program. Keep your questions brief and academic in nature, and take advantage of the great opportunity for insight and learning!  Dr. Jacobs is willing respond to your questions either publicly (on our blog) or privately (through email).  You will also be given the opportunity to respond to his responses, via the blog.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

AP Literature Course Description

AP English Literature and Composition is designed to be a college/university- level course, thus the “AP” designation on a transcript rather than honors or college prep. This course will provide you with the intellectual challenges and workload consistent with a typical undergraduate university English literature/Humanities course. As a culmination of the course, you will take the AP English Literature and Composition Exam given in May (required). A grade of 4 or 5 on this exam is considered equivalent to a 3.3—4.0 for comparable courses at the college or university level. A student who earns a grade of 3 or above on the exam will be granted college credit at most colleges and universities throughout the United States. Students may check the AP credit policy of their university by visiting the following website: