ralph ellison

The International Ralph Ellison Symposium

September 28-30, 2017

Oxford University

The Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford and the Ralph Ellison Society are pleased to announce the first International Ralph Ellison Symposium. The symposium will bring together Ellison scholars and readers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and other international locales. The symposium will explore a variety of themes vital to Ellison’s life and work, in particular the relevance that his self-fashioned American and African-American identity has around the world.

The likely session topics include:

  • Ellison in translation (Invisible Man is in print in more than twenty different languages, including a Mandarin edition published in 2016).
  • The reception, past and present, of Ellison’s fiction and essays in different countries.
  • The status and future direction of Ellison scholarship.
  • Ellison’s own engagement with the world: for example, his urge (thwarted by tonsillitis) to fight in the Abraham Lincoln brigade for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War; his time in Wales during his service in the Merchant Marine in late 1944 and early 1945 (also briefly in Rouen after the Allied invasion of France); his lectureship at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies in 1954; almost two years in Rome at the American Academy from 1955 to 1957; and brief visits to Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Florence, Madrid, and his week in Paris to reconnect with Richard Wright. 
  • How authors and intellectuals from outside of (and inside) the United States have adopted and adapted Ellisonian concepts (invisibility, the vernacular process, etc.).
  • How Ellison’s work is in conversation with interlocutors from many nations, such as Joyce, Malraux, Silone, and others.
  •  . . . and other topics to be proposed.

The symposium will open the afternoon of Thursday, September 28th and close the evening of Saturday, September 30th, 2017. The Ellison Society anticipates that the first International Ellison Symposium will give rise to an edited collection of essays. The conference is underwritten by a grant from the Ralph and Fanny Ellison Trust and is also supported by TORCH and the Rothermere American Institute. 

Proposals for panels or individual papers (300 words maximum) should be sent to Tessa Roynon ( and Marc Conner ( Deadline for proposals is March 1, 2017.  Announcements, updates, and information will be available at 

Fiction and Human Rights

Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century