Friday, April 15, 2011

Final Paper Proposal

I am planning on revising my last post “What has [not] cast a shadow upon you” which was about the narrator of Invisible Man and how he is oblivious to the inner workings of society. I am thinking about developing this further but I will focus on the evolution of the narrator throughout the book in regards to his understanding of society and the shadow that is cast over him. I’m arguing that although he may become slightly more aware of the control of society, he does little to change it and the shadow still remains.

I will use a good portion of my original blogpost, but it will make up mostly the beginning of my overall final paper. I will continue it by talking about each rebirth that the narrator goes through and see the differences between his views on society as well as the control that society has on him.

Kermode: Genesis will come into play with Kermode’s ideas of interpretation with outsiders vs. insiders. I will also talk about how the narrator’s views effect what we as readers understand of certain events. This could be a counterargument that there might not be a shadow upon the narrator at all; we just perceive it to be there based on the narrator’s opinions and the fact that he is the one whose eyes we see everything through.

Marcuse: I will use the points I made in my original blogpost that talk about domination, solitude, and possibly progress, but I will go into more depth and try to find other examples or events throughout Invisible Man that these points can apply to. I might also use Marcuse’s discussion on hypnotic language to argue how language effects the narrator’s domination by society.

Butler: The ideas and process of change that come about from Lauren’s Earthseed will be used to talk about the narrator’s evolution. First, I will talk about what he needs to do to change and escape the shadow and then I will compare it to what actually happens throughout the novel.

Nussbaum, “Invisibility and Recognition: Sophocles’ Philoctetes and Ellison’s Invisible Man”, Philosophy and Literature 23.2, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, 257-283. : I will incorporate Nussbaum’s arguments into my paper. She talks about certain points like “the Invisible Man reminds his readers that the accident of invisibility, in a society whose inner eyes are so deficient, can in effect befall any human being” which I would use to argue that the invisibility of the narrator is caused by the shadow that society has cast upon him, and she continues “although of course it is only the ones with a particular epidermis whom this accident has actually befallen in today's America”. She has other points that I will most likely discuss but that is just one example.

Jarenski, “Invisibility Embraced: The Abject as a Site of Agency in Ellison’s Invisible Man”, MELUS 35.4 (2010): 85-109. Academic Search Premier. : Jarenski talks about what I would cover near the end of my paper: the narrator’s acceptance and even choice of invisibility. Even though I haven’t reached this part of the novel as of yet, from several articles I have read on this subject, I know that I will need to cover it since I am talking about the evolution of the narrator in terms of the degrees of society’s domination of him throughout the entire novel.

Counterargument: Other than the possible counterargument that there is no shadow at all, the counterargument could be that the narrator is not invisible or dominated and therefore does not need to change, even if he did in any way.

So, I have a general idea about what I would like to do and some points I would like to make but not everything is really solidified. I’m hoping that once I start to write it that everything will come together. I’m really hoping for your input on if this is ok or if it needs to be more cohesive.

1 comment:

  1. Your explanation of the sources you intend to use is good, and I have no complaints there. That actually takes up a big part of this post, but I really don't have anything to say - this topic isn't an area where I know a great deal, I think you're well qualified to do the reading (although I'll mention, like I have with many other people, that Ellison's essays would be productive for you).

    I'm left to comment really on just one thing - what I see (after skimming the original) as an interesting shift. In your first version, you seemed to have a relatively positive take on the narrator's ability to transform himself, and to get out from under society's shadow. Here, you're arguing more that he has not, or even that he *cannot* change. Maybe you didn't even really intend this shift, but it seems important to me, because (whether you really intend it, or its opposite) it provides an opportunity to clarify your argument.

    If he can get out from under the shadow, the novel is (or can be read as) a celebration of the genius of the individual, our ability to extract ourself from all kinds of darkness.

    If he cannot get out from under the shadow, then something else is going on - is it that the individual is ultimately nothing? Or is there some third way, some more complicated understanding of the relationship between individual and society?

    You think, at this point, that his awareness grows but his control doesn't. Is that because it's impossible for him to assert control over his life? If not, how could he do so? If so, what is the meaning of knowledge if it doesn't lead to power? Or is it just that the power it leads to is very bounded?

    Those questions and thoughts might not be individually important, but I'm trying to point out ways in which you're revealing possible directions for your work, and ways in which it can become more specific.