The Speech/Acts reading group will meet over six Saturday afternoons in the fall; we will discuss syllabus texts and explore what they illuminate and provoke. The group will meet in a satellite outpost for The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII), founded by Claudia Rankine, installed in the first-floor galleries at ICA. All are welcome to join the reading group; you are also welcome to use and adapt this syllabus as a tool for encountering Speech/Acts in your own classroom or study group, or to use it on your own.
On Saturday, September 23 from 1 to 4PM, we will discuss Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric. Rankine’s bold book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.
The reading group is organized by Meg Onli (ICA), Julia Bloch (Creative Writing Program), and Davy Knittle and Amber Rose Johnson (Penn English).