Juneteenth/Three Days Before the Shooting... Winter 2023

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Class Details

Readers waited more than forty years for the follow-up to Ralph Ellison’s acclaimed novel, Invisible Man (1952). But when he died in 1994, his untitled second novel remained unfinished. However, in years since, material from the manuscript has been published twice: first as Juneteenth, edited by Ellison’s literary executor, John F. Callahan, which condenses the 2,000 drafted pages of the manuscript into a 368-page novel; then as Three Days Before the Shooting…, which is a 1,000-page compilation that includes alternate drafts and deleted scenes. Although very different, both books center on a white-passing, race-baiting US Senator named Adam Sunraider and the man who raised him, a Black Baptist minister named Alonzo Hickman. In this class, we will go back and forth between both texts as we try to answer two questions: (1) What story was Ellison trying to tell? (2) Why was this story so hard to tell as a novel? These questions will urge us to think critically about race, culture and politics, but also literary form and the creative process. This class will meet six hours a week and will require students to complete a creative final project addressing the guiding questions of this class.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 15
Expected: NA
Class#: 1370
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Final project or presentation.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: seniority
Unit Notes: William Stahl, PhD, is a Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Williams College.
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
SLFX Winter Study Self-Expression
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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