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, October 21 from 1 to 4PM, we will discuss Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing by Anthony Reed and Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry by Dorothy Wang.
Freedom Time reclaims the power of experimental black voices by arguing that readers and critics must see them as more than a mere reflection of the politics of social protest and identity formation. With an approach informed by literary, cultural, African American, and feminist studies, Reed shows how reworking literary materials and conventions liberates writers to push the limits of representation and expression.
Dorothy Wang’s Thinking Its Presence contends that aesthetic forms are inseparable from social, political, and historical contexts in the writing and reception of all poetry. Wang questions the tendency of critics and academics alike to occlude the role of race in their discussions of the American poetic tradition and casts a harsh light on the double standard they apply in reading poems by poets who are racial minorities. This is the first sustained study of the formal properties in Asian American poetry across a range of aesthetic styles, from traditional lyric to avant-garde. Wang argues with conviction that critics should read minority poetry with the same attention to language and form that they bring to their analyses of writing by white poets.
The reading group is organized by Meg Onli (ICA), Julia Bloch (Creative Writing Program), and Davy Knittle and Amber Rose Johnson (Penn English).