Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Final Project Proposal

My proposal for my final project is a revision of my previous entry titled “Ellison, Marcuse, and the Consciousness of Servitude.”
The following is the current bibliography for my project. I may change or add sources as I investigate further:
Box, Richard C. "Marcuse Was Right." Administrative Theory & Praxis (M.E. Sharpe) 33.2 (2011): 169-191. Business Source Complete. Web. 10 Apr. 2012.
I will implement this source to better explain and clarify the relevant arguments that Marcuse is making, and how they directly apply to Ellison.

Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995. Print.
Invisible Man will be the main source that my essay will be focused around. I will deeply investigate several relevant events in the novel and use my other sources to guide my discussion of them.

Jarenski, Shelly. "Invisibility embraced: the abject as a site of agency in Ellison's Invisible
Man." MELUS 35.4 (2010): 85+. Academic OneFile. Web. 10 Apr. 2012\
This source will be a great aid to my explanation of the events that I select from Ellison. This source has helped me discover new ways to look at these events.

Marcuse, Herbert. One-Dimensional Man. Beacon, 1991.
Examples from Marcuse will be selected in order to demonstrate the clear relationship that exists between One-Dimensional Man and Invisible Man.

2.            The main argument of my essay is that One-Dimensional Man and Invisible Man both deal with the topic of social-domination and the inability to see it. These themes are central to both Marcuse and Ellison. Marcuse discusses these topics at great length, providing several examples for my argument. In Invisible Man, the narrator contends with social-domination throughout the entire story. I believe that the narrator fails to recognize his place of servitude in the beginning, but he comes to realize it towards the end. A possible counterargument may propose the Ellison and Marcuse deal with social domination in entirely different ways; therefore, there is no clear relationship between the two. In addition, One-Dimensional Man was written after Invisible Man, so one cannot say that Invisible Man was influenced by One-Dimensional Man. I will have to contend with these arguments during the my writing process.

                The reader should care about my argument because it clarifies the statements that Ellison is attempting to make in Invisible Man. It gives the reader a better understanding of the significance of the events that take place in the narrative. In addition, these topics are still relevant to today’s society and deserve the reader’s time and attention.

3.            I will use Marcuse to interrogate the events I select from Invisible Man and show how Ellison and Marcuse are related. Marcuse’s idea of the “consciousness of servitude” will serve as one of the main themes for my argument. The following quote introduces Marcuse’s consciousness of servitude: “All liberation depends on the consciousness of servitude, and the emergence of this consciousness is always hampered by the predominance of needs and satisfactions which, to a great extent, have become the individual’s own” (Marcuse, 7).  This quote is applicable to several part of Ellison such as the battle royal. I will also use the consciousness of servitude mentioned above and apply it to instances such as the narrator’s time at Liberty Paints, and the narrator’s sexual encounter with a white woman. There are many other quotes from Marcuse that will be used to examine other events and characters such as Bledsoe and Tod Clifton.

4.            There are several things that I plan to change about my previous essay. I will go into much greater detail about the significance of the battle royal as I now believe it is an essential part of my argument. I will try to further examine the role of the narrator’s grandfather because I believe that I did not do a sufficient enough job in explaining this in the original essay.  I need to go into greater detail in the explanations of Marcuse’s statements (“Marcuse Was Right” will greatly aid me here). The same is true for the events that I have selected from Ellison such as the battle royal and Bledsoe’s position of power. In addition, I will make use of many additional events in Ellison that will help my argument.  These include the narrator’s sexual encounters with white women, the Liberty Paints incidents, and the presence of the Sambo dolls that Clifton sells. I am sure that I will come across even more examples to use from Ellison as I continue my reading of the novel.

I chose this as my final project because I am deeply interested in this topic. I enjoyed writing the previous blog entry more than any other, and I am confident that I will be able to produce a revision that contains a more expansive, detailed, and clear argument.


  1. I think that your topic is very interesting and a good way to bring the two texts together. I think that it's probably a good choice to stick with two main texts for your focus. I'm not familiar with the essays that you're using but I think that it's a good idea to use an essay to help make some passages by Marcuse more clear. I'm curious in your argument if you're going to focus on the narrator in Invisible Man or if you are going to include other characters - saying that everyone is part of the charade, oblivious to a corrupt institution. I think it's fine if you're just going to focus on the narrator but you may need ot mention it to show if the narrator -transcends if that's what you're saying, this institution by the end. Also, I'm just personally curious if at the end you're going to place meaning on the fact that the narrator is then aware of the corruption and his place in society - like Marcuse or readers of Marcuse. Does this make things better or worse because they still have to function in society, even though it is corrupt - sorry, I may be rambling a bit, but I guess I'm wondering if you'll include the significance of this and I'm personally curious as to what you think that is.

    Additionally, you mention the timing of the texts, and I think that would be an interesting thing to consider if you wanted to in your paper. I'm curious about the exact dates of the publications and the history of the authors - not something that I think you have to include but if you wanted to bring the focus that way I think you could. Anyways, I think you have a lot of good materical and I think it'll be a strong final paper.

  2. Very good. Go do it.

    No, really. I could probably nitpick at it if I wanted to, and I certainly think there will be challenges in the process of relating Marcuse to Ellison - but you've already done promising work in that area, and further difficulties will arise in the details of your readings - I don't see any problems at the high level.

    I agree with Colleen that one interesting line of argument would include a biographical element - but I don't think it's necessary, either.

    Good job. I really don't have any problem with this approach at all - I look forward to reading it.