Ralph Ellison: An American Journey


  • An Introduction to Ralph Ellison

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey introduces students to Ellison’s groundbreaking novel Invisible Man.  Scholars discuss Ellison’s legacy and his place in the American literary canon. 

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel

    Grades: 9-12
  • Invisible Man: Plot Summary

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey features a plot summary of Invisible Man and discussion of the novel’s significance in the history of African American literature.  Students should watch the video after reading Invisible Man as several scenes from the novel are reenacted.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Invisible Man: Battle Royal

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey features a reenactment of the famous Battle Royal scene in Chapter 1 of Invisible Man.  Columbia University professor Farah Griffin discusses the significance of the protagonist’s participation in the boxing match.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Invisible Man: The Hero's Journey

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey provides a plot summary of Invisible Man focusing on the protagonist’s journey from innocence to maturity.  The background essay describes the stages of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and students are invited to compare Ellison’s novel to Campbell’s monomyth.  This resource is recommended for use after students have read Invisible Man in its entirety.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Invisible Man: The Trueblood Incident

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey features critical analysis of the protagonist’s encounter with Jim Trueblood in the novel Invisible Man.  Scholars discuss the possibility that Trueblood fabricated his incestuous relationship with his daughter in order to exploit wealthy white community leaders. 

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Jazz: A Metaphor for America

    In this video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, scholars discuss the author’s ideas about jazz music.  Ellison recognized jazz as an art form that represented the complexity of America’s multicultural democratic society.  This resource may be used alongside Ellison’s Invisible Man, but is also well suited for use in a lesson, unit, or course on African American literature.     

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Brotherhood: A Critique of the Communist Party

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey explores the relationship between the fictional Brotherhood in the novel Invisible Man and the real-life Communist Party.  Both Ellison and his literary mentor Richard Wright were associated with the Communist Party earlier in their careers, but later left because of political and artistic differences. 

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Harlem Riot

    This video the American Masters film from Ralph Ellison: An American Journey describes the Harlem Riot of 1943 and its influence on Ellison’s writing.  Ellison covered the riot for the New York Post and witnessed many of the events that would later inspire his novel Invisible Man.  

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Ralph Ellison: Renaissance Man

    In this video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, scholars discuss the influence of the Harlem Renaissance on Ellison’s writing.  Alain Locke’s “The New Negro,” jazz music, and painter Aaron Douglas are all highlighted for their role in shaping the famous author’s sensibilities.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Dr. Bledsoe: A Fictional Booker T. Washington

    This video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey explores the legacy of Booker T. Washington, the controversial leader of the Tuskegee Institute and model for the character of Dr. Bledsoe in Invisible Man.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Ralph Ellison and the Black Arts Movement

    In this video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, scholars discuss conflicts between Ralph Ellison and the leaders of the Black Arts Movement.  Ellison was often criticized for prioritizing aesthetics over politics, putting him at odds with a younger generation of Black artists who had lost faith in the integrationist ideals of an earlier era.   

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Ralph Ellison on Writing

    In this video from the American Masters film Ralph Ellison: An American Journey, Robert O’Meally discusses the author’s unique approach to writing.  This resource is best used in a class or lesson on fiction writing.

    For additional resources on Ralph Ellison: An American Journey and to purchase the complete DVD, visit California Newsreel.

    Grades: 9-12

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