New Books Network

Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man is a milestone of American literature and the idea of invisibility has become a key way for understanding...

Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel Invisible Man is a milestone of American literature and the idea of invisibility has become a key way for understanding social marginalization. In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Theology (NYU Press, 2017), M. Cooper Harriss, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University, explores the theological dimensions of invisibility within the intersection of race, religion, and secularism through the life and literary career of Ralph Ellison. Harris places Invisible Man and its reception within its contemporary context of literary and theological inquiry. Pairing this with a genealogy of Ellison’s proximity to religious scholars and writers reveals how his secular accounts are steeped in theological appeal. In our conversation we discussed the life of Ralph Ellison, writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Ellison’s second novel, Ellison’s relationship with scholar of religion and literature, Nathan A. Scott Jr., Ellison’s love of nineteenth century American literature, invisibility as an analytical category, and its applications in our contemporary moment.


Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.