Dissertation Topic

Ralph Ellison and Octavio Paz? I am not sure this would work, but it occurs to me. Read this and think about it:

Ralph Ellison and alienation: It would seem an obvious pairing. After all, he won his initial acclaim for extending the most fashionable affectation of the 1950s onto black America. Yet he may be better remembered (more esteemed, certainly, in certain circles) for his strenuous advocacy of inclusion, association, interconnection.


7 thoughts on “Dissertation Topic

  1. The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950) is a collection of essays exploring existential solitude, marginality, and Mexicanness. It is what flashed into my mind when I saw the article on Ellison. Paz is interesting as an example of marginality/centrality because, although ultra famous in the Spanish speaking world, a canonical writer, Nobel prize winner, “mainstream” (if you will) in Mexico, and not unknown elsewhere, he’s still an example of the “marginal/Third World” writers in the context of Comparative Literature. That’s the other connection to Ellison I saw – classic, but Black, a “race man,” but an individualist, etc. …

  2. Of course, Paz did not get writer’s block, and did not get made a king after publishing his first blockbuster (so to speak) – he became a kingmaker. So maybe I’m pushing too far. I am rereading the article now and another idea that occurs to me – in terms of the role Ellison took on or was given – is the role for “postcolonial” French speaking writers some Francophone Studies experts seem to envision: “here is our nice little writer from the colonies, very well brought up, though…”

    Anyway, these are my vague, unformed and also somewhat uninformed intuitions. What fascinates me most about the article was how frozen Ellison was, by the death of his father they say but then also by the role(s) he saw and did not see for himself. It is as though he kept trying to fit in somewhere, when what he needed to do was make a space… ?

  3. RG, this is my problem, too many good ideas. They boggle my mind and I whiz around, which should I follow up on? I think it means I need more graduate students.

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