Course of the Mod
Course of the Mod Archive

Big Book: Invisible Man

There are more than 300 courses offered through CSW's unique Mod System. Dive into one of them here or explore a previous 'Course of the Mod' by using the archive on the left-hand side of the page.
Big Book: Invisible Man
A class discussion in action
Big Book: Invisible Man, is one of many “Big Book” courses at CSW, in which upper class students spend a five-week mod reading and discussing a single text. CSW English teacher Brian Walker first read Invisible Man as a student himself and loves to teach it at CSW because of how students drive the dissection of the novel through their daily conversations. Each day, students take the reins in the discussion, sometimes being prompted by a word or two that Brian may write on the board and other times deconstructing their own findings. He appreciates that, “the students really respect one another’s opinions and perspectives, and they enjoy discovering. They get excited about the possibilities of figuring it out, and I have yet to have a class here where students didn’t get really into the analysis of the book and run with it.”

Though published in 1952, Invisible Man is a timeless book, one that Brian believes all students connect to in their own individual ways. Students leave the course with a greater understanding of their relationship to race and racism in the United States.

Aside from the messages and the discussions, this course is popular because of Brian’s energy. “What makes this class so special for me is that I truly love it so much,” he says with a smile. “I’m already a high energy person, and when I get in there, I’m into it. I feel so passionately about the book and what the students get from it!”

He believes that this is just one of many courses at CSW that really allow for students to be curious and to take risks. “It’s a CSW tradition to have kids who are genuinely intellectually curious, who learn for the sake of learning, and who work for more than just a grade.” Take a step into Brian’s Invisible Man class, and you will see exactly what he means.

Student Q & A

List of 2 frequently asked questions.

  • Q. What did you enjoy most about this course?

    "The book is 600-700 pages, and it was great being able to come into class everyday and discuss what we read from the night before. There was never just one student taking over the conversation; everyone is contributing in every discussion because everyone was really into the book!"

    -Devon '15
  • Q. What did you most learn from this course?

    "What I took away from the class was a better understanding of race and how it affects life.
    Invisible Man opened my eyes. It forced me to have uncomfortable discussions in order to become more familiar with reality, to see my own blindness. Coming from a small middle school, it seemed unusual to me to be taking a class focused on race and this idea of invisibility. It was a class that I may have never have had the chance of taking anywhere else, had I not come to CSW."

    - Devon '15

Course Description

Big Book: Invisible Man is an 11th and 12th grade English literature course that explores the rich and imaginative texture of author Ralph Ellision's famous 1952 novel Invisible Man. The novel holds a premiere position in African-American and American literature. Beside its rite-of-passage theme (the literal journey of a black man from the South to the North), lies a world of metaphor. Every action, every transition, every word the Invisible Man speaks—as well as all the people he meets on his journey—carry double and emblematic meaning. In this exciting and sought-after course, students dive into an unforgettable and powerful story that speaks volumes about mid-twentieth century life and racism in America. 
English teacher Brian Walker
Originally from East Cleveland, Brian Walker has been teaching the course on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man for many years and holds it closely as one of his favorites to teach. As someone who attended boarding school himself, Brian is a key member of the CSW community, not only as an esteemed English teacher, but also as a coach and former member of the admissions office and administrative council. He has won numerous awards for playwriting, short stories, and journalism, and is the author of the novel, Black Boy White School, published in 2012. To read a review of Brian's novel, click here
The Cambridge School of Weston
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The Cambridge School of Weston is a day and boarding independent school, located near Boston, for students in grades 9-12 and PG. We offer an innovative and rigorous academic program that fosters critical thought, hands-on experiential learning and deep academic inquiry. Students choose from more than 300 courses through our unique Mod System; no two student schedules are alike.