Patrice Rankine’s “The Body and Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison’s Novel in Twenty-First-Century Performance and Public Spaces,” contrasts the artistic uses of physicality in Invisible Man the novel with its 2012 play adaptation. Rankine argues that the stage version’s “focus on the corporeal reality of race” complements what the novel can do to facilitate social or political progress: in short, “there is therapeutic value in ‘staging’ or reliving such experiences.” Staging Invisible Man extends Ellison’s relevance in an age where, though the United States had a black president, the very novelty of the black body illustrates how infrequently that body is seen and hence integrated into society. Rankine distinguishes the novel form as an appeal to reason in contrast to theater, with its emotional or visceral draw, without privileging the novel over its adaptation to the stage.

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Copyright © 2016 University Press of Mississippi. This book chapter first appeared in The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century.

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