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Chapter 1 - Oklahoma City and “the Territory”

from Part I - Geographical, Institutional, and Interpersonal Contexts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2022

Paul Devlin
Affiliation:
United States Merchant Marine Academy, New York
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Summary

While Ralph Ellison left Oklahoma City after high school and visited only a handful of times after moving away, he always considered himself an Oklahoman. This chapter includes Ellison’s formative experiences of Oklahoma City as a working-class boy in a segregated town and includes touchstone experiences that influenced his work—such as his exposure to jazz and his awareness of local smokers like the one in “Battle Royal”—as well larger historical contexts that brought his parents’ generation to the Territory. Source materials for this chapter include existing biographies, Ellison’s own writings about OKC, archival documents, and local oral histories.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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