The Self-Fashioned American Blues Identity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In his 1945 essay, “Richard Wright’s Blues,” Ralph Ellison defines the blues as “an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.” “Ralph Ellison and the Blues” will examine the ways in which Ellison frames the blues as a quintessentially American form in which its makers tell individual stories that resonate for the collective, while simultaneously creating improvised, self-fashioned American identities. This chapter will consider Ellison’s engagement with the blues through his character Jim Trueblood in Invisible Man; his incisive recollections about Jimmy Rushing, and other blues people; and his own cohered identity created out of (American) cultural chaos.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRalph Ellison in Context
EditorsPaul Devlin
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781108773546
ISBN (Print)9781108488969, 9781108732963
StatePublished - Dec 2 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Ralph Ellison
  • Jimmy Rushing
  • blues people
  • blues idiom
  • blues aesthetic
  • blues
  • Richard Wright


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