•  
  •  
 

Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3515-8751 Kamionowski Jerzy

Abstract

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen. An American Lyric is a perplexing work of literature both because of its original presentation of the issue of racism in the US today and the original formal ways through which its message is communicated. It is formally innovative and technically experimental in an unusual “average reader”-friendly manner, situating itself a world apart from postmodern “poetics of interruption and illegibility” (Davidson 602). Paradoxically, being almost a poem with a purpose, it expands existing categories. Its sociological orientation and emphasis on poetic language’s capacity to inform, instruct, emotionally move and morally engage the reader goes together with activating more experimental formal strategies, as it merges a variety of media: there are examples of spectacular instances of racism, represented by the photographs, and in a series of scripts for Situation videos made by the author in collaboration with her husband John Lucas. This article demonstrates how formal engagement with the visual arts may serve the purpose of stigmatizing racism and making poetry matter within the field of current public debate on important cultural, social and political problems discussed in historical contexts of racism-cum-race. The conceptualization of the issues discussed here is based on the notion of “seeing through race” (introduced into the field of study of the visual arts and literature by W. J. T. Mitchell in 2012), which has changed the perception of the relationship between race and racism.

Keywords

African American poetry, Claudia Rankine, racism, race, visual arts

Disciplines

American Literature | American Studies | Arts and Humanities | Interdisciplinary Arts and Media | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

References

Alcoff, Linda Martin. “The Whiteness Question.” Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self. Oxford: Oxford UP, 205–23. Print. https://doi.org/10.1093/0195137345.003.0009

Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: The New, 2012. Print.

Appiah, Anthony. “The Uncompleted Argument: DuBois and the Illusion of Race.” Critical Inquiry 12.1 (Autumn 1985): 21–37. Print. https://doi.org/10.1086/448319

Asokan, Ratik. “‘I am invested in keeping present the forgotten bodies.’ An Interview with Claudia Rankine.” Believermag.com. The Believer 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 17 Aug. 2019.

Berlant, Lauren. “Claudia Rankine by Lauren Berlant.” Bombmagazine.org. BOMB 1 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Aug. 2019.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006. Print.

Brown, Oliver. “It’s Not Racist, but Caroline Wozniacki’s Impersonation of Serena Williams is a Crime against Comedy.” Telegraph.co.uk. The Telegraph 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Aug. 2019.

Bryan, Rob. “Against a Sharp White Background: Race and Decorum in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.” Tribes.org. Tribes 14 Jul. 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2019.

Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso, 2004. Print.

Davidson, Michael. “Introduction: American Poetry, 2000–2009.” Contemporary Literature 52.4 (2011): 597–629. Print. https://doi.org/10.1353/cli.2011.0052

Glasgow, Joshua. A Theory of Race. New York: Routledge, 2009. Print. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203880951

Mitchell, W. J. T. Seeing Through Race. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2012. Print.

Murphy, Michael David. “Jim Crow Road—2007.” Michaeldavidmurphy. com. Michael David Murphy. Web. 19 Aug. 2019.

Nussbaum, Martha C. Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2004. Print.

Rankine, Claudia. Citizen. An American Lyric. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf, 2014. Print.

Shockley, Evie. “Race, Reception, and Claudia Rankine’s American Lyric.” Lareviewofbooks.org. The Los Angeles Review of Books 6 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 Feb. 2020.

Spillers, Hortense J. Black, White, and in Color. Essays on American Literature and Culture. Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 2003. Print.

Wagner, Catherine. “Messing with the Beholder: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and the Embedded Conceptualism.” Jacket2.org. Jacket 2 5 Feb. 2016. Web. 13 Aug. 2019.

Werner, Craig. “New Democratic Vistas.” Belief vs. Theory in Black American Literary Criticism. Ed. Joe Weixlmann and Chester J. Fontenot. Greenwood, FL: The Penkevill, 1986. 47–84. Print.

First Page

392

Last Page

407

Language

eng

Share

COinS