A Literary Journey into Consciousness

February 17th, 2017

Revision Checklist

Posted by Krystal Dillon in Uncategorized

After reading my feedback from Professor Tougaw and my writing group I realized that I have three major areas to work on in revising my essay.

  1. Thesis- I need to make clear to the reader what exactly my thesis is. Given that my readers still have questions about this shows me that I am not making a concrete argument and making my thesis easy to spot.
  2. Stance- I need to make clearer my stance in respect to the critics that I introduce. My voice often gets lost when I introduce a theorist’s point. I think that it would be helpful if I use the list of transition words Professor Tougaw gave out in class so I can make clear what motivating moves I am making in my essay.
  3. Conclusion- I need to WORK on my conclusion. Its sooooo hard to come up with a strong ending and I think in my last revision process I kind of lost the segway into my conclusion. So I need to go back and work on the best way to end my piece.

I think that I still have other areas to work on but these three will serve as my main focus for the next revision process.

February 14th, 2017

Invisible Man Presentation

Posted by Krystal Dillon in Uncategorized

Last week, I presented on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Given that we have read the book in class, I will skip the synopsis part of the presentation. I chose to showcase how one can do a theory based analysis of Ellison’s novel. My presentation showed how one can do a feminist theoretical analysis of the text. To start here is a statement from Dale Parker’s section on feminism from the book How to Interpret Literature:

“To this critic’s thinking, at least, no movement in intellectual and cultural history has done more to change literary criticism than feminism. For literary criticism, feminism is not a method in the sense that new criticism, structuralism, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis are methods. It does not zero in on codifying a set of operations that one might turn like a crank to produce a new epistemology or a new literary criticism though it produces those things nevertheless. While feminist criticism certainly has method and has changed literary critical method in general, it is not so much a method in itself as an area of interest and even a commitment” (Parker 149).

Feminist theory is unique in that it does not have a set of rules or a concrete methodology unlike other disciplines such as deconstruction, psychoanalysis, etc. Feminist theory becomes a specific approach, or a perspective which seeks to analyze the way gender works in a given text (albeit a novel, film, television, etc). Parker goes on to outline several movements within feminist criticism, beginning with images-of-women criticism of which he states:

“Early feminist literary criticism, focused on what came to be called images of women (after the title of a 1972 anthology of feminist criticism) at first primarily in male authored works but eventually also in female-authored works. Images-of-women criticism judges a work (novel, film, music video, song) according to whether it provides “positive images” of women. If it portrays good women, then according to images-of-women criticism it is a good film song, or novel. If it does not portray good women then it is not so good a work. By now, many feminist critics see the focus on “images of women” as limiting and old fashioned because it tends to imply that women characters must be good “role models” which seems to confine literature to a narrow predictable range of possibilities. We have all been in classes or conversations where people say that they do not like this or that movie or book or play because a character is unrealistic, including times when they object to a work because it portrays an unrealistic stereotype perhaps even a demeaning stereotype. In that sense, we need “images-of-women criticism” and it has close parallels in criticism that focuses on what we might call images of African Americans or images of American Indians or Catholics, immigrants, Muslims, or old people and so on” (Parker 152).

Carolyn Sylvander’s piece ‘Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Female Stereotypes’ which I distributed in class serves as an example of how to approach Ellison’s with a feminist lens. Sylvander analyzes each of the women in the novel and shows how they capitulate to stereotypes that Ellison himself outlined in an essay. Her analysis does not simply rate the women as positive versus negative images but instead complicates the images of women criticism. Although she acknowledges that Ellison often uses stereotyping in subversive ways, she argues that the women in the novel are not given enough depth to complicate their limiting roles and as a result their method of stereotyping is dehumanizing.

As Claudia Tate states in her piece ‘Notes on the Invisible Women in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man’:

“Questions about the female characters in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man seem to elicit two types of response: The initial one is “What women?” since women clearly occupy peripheral roles in the novel. And then after Mary Rambo and the other female characters—that is, the old slave woman, the magnificent blonde, the rich sophisticate Emma, the anonymous seductress, and finally the prophetic and pathetic Sybil—are recalled, the second response is something like “Oh those stereotypes” (Tate 253).

Sylvander gives multiple examples of the ways in which the women aforementioned capitulate to stereotypes. For instance Mary Rambo serves as an example of the “myth of the superwoman” as offered by Michele Wallace. Trueblood’s wife and daughter are not given the opportunity to speak for themselves in the novel, instead their narrative is constructed by the man in their life. Similarly, Sylvander notes that Emma was introduced in the novel only in relation to the men in the brotherhood when the protagonist states “Who is she anyway? Brother Jack’s girl-friend? His wife?” Ultimately Sylvander’s approach in her article gives us a template on how to do a feminist reading of a text. Tate’s article does complicate Sylvander’s analysis given that she is writing her piece 12 years later, she comes to the analysis with a more nuanced approach. Her argument is that we need to take the stereotypical images of women in Ellison’s novel and see the “hidden truth they reveal”. She argues that the women in the novel serve a larger purpose often giving the protagonist “lessons in invsibility”.

Overall both of these articles serve as an example of taking a feminist approach which can be applied to any text and not solely Invisible Man. I hope this helps for the exam!

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