So Black and Blue
Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism
What would it mean to read Invisible Man as a document of Jim Crow America? Using Ralph Ellison's classic novel and many of his essays as starting points, Kenneth W. Warren illuminates the peculiar interrelation of politics, culture, and social scientific inquiry that arose during the post-Reconstruction era and persisted through the Civil Rights movement. Warren argues that Ellison's novel expresses the problem of who or what could represent and speak for the Negro in an age of limited political representation.
So Black and Blue shows that Ellison's successful transformation of these limits into possibilities has also, paradoxically, cast a shadow on the postsegregation world. What can be the direction of African American culture once the limits that have shaped it are stricken down? Here Warren takes up the recent, ongoing, and often contradictory veneration of Ellison's artistry by black writers and intellectuals to reveal the impoverished terms often used in discussions about the political and cultural future of African Americans. Ultimately, by showing what it would mean to take seriously the idea of American novels as creatures of their moment, Warren questions whether there can be anything that deserves the label of classic American literature.
1. Ralph Ellison and the Cultural Turn in Black Politics
2. Race, Literature, and the Politics of Numbers, or Not Quite a Million Men Marching
3. Of Southern Strategies
4. To Move without Moving: Reconstructing the Fictions of Sociology
Conclusion: Invisible Man at Fifty