E. Ethelbert Miller asks: "I'm looking at a thesis outline by a student enrolled in graduate school (at Howard). The student is looking at the work of Percival Everett. One of the books she will be writing about is ERASURE. I love this book. But the student wants to connect Everett's concept of "erasure" to Ellison's idea of invisibility. My question to you is - must we always look to Ellison when we discuss invisibility and questions of identity? Are there other African American writers this person can look to? It just seems as if we keep looking in the same box and pulling out the same old clothes."
As a retired college professor, I think it would be a mistake for this student to not mention (or "erase," if you will) Ellison's contribution to literary culture if she feels it significantly relates to Percival Everett's work, especially if she believes Everett is indebted to Ellison for the presentation of a particular idea. This student isn't writing a book review. She's writing a thesis in which she will ideally offer "new knowledge" or insight about some subject. Such a reference to Ellison, then, is simply a matter of integrity in scholarship and completeness and, I might add, honesty. Furthermore, if this is a thesis, I imagine this student will (or should) make an effort to situate Mr. Everett's work within the context of American literature in general and black American literary history in particular. In other words, I can see her "connecting" him to many people, perhaps even to E. Ethelbert Miller. No literary work enters the world ex nihilo.