In his article "Affect, History, and Race and Ellison's Invisible Man" Alan Bourassa explores the implications of the Deleuze and Guattarian concept of "affect" for a reading of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In the novel's most problematic relationship -- that between race and history -- there is a third term that transforms the problematic. Invisible Man is simultaneously a conventional novel that establishes emotional individuality as the third term between history and race, and an "underground" novel that sets up "affect" as the third term. If Invisible Man is only about the emotional movements of the individual, race becomes merely an ineffective personal response to an inadequate conceptualization of history. But if "affect" is the third term of the problematic, then history and race are transformed. History becomes a set of unrealized possibilities that can be activated by the narrator. Affect opens up the revolutionary potential of an historical situation by transforming it into sets of embryonic forces that resist mechanization. And, in conjunction with affect, race is transformed into a series of a-personal movements and relationships of force that operate effectively in this embryonic world. Invisible Man is the chronicle of the narrator's affective evolution, his history of invisibility.
"Affect, History, and Race and Ellison's Invisible Man."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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