Essay #3: Citizen (600-800 words) to the Discussions and reply to two of your classmates’ essays. Make sure you at least have a thesis statement the looks at 1 of the 4 options you have to write about: (1) narrative voice or point of view (“you”); (2) repeated imagery or situations (microaggressions); (3) the relationship between images (pictures or artwork in the book) and the written text in the book; or (4) how the book as a whole or one section of the book is organized.
Here is the essay prompt:
Analyzing the Experience of Bias: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen
Background: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, first published in 2014, combines poetry, prose, and visual images to document different forms of “everyday racism”—the sometimes unconscious ways in which stereotyped attitudes can govern relationships between friends and strangers who are racially different from each other. In evoking these experiences of racism, Rankine has said that her goal is “to understand where the bigger, scandalous aggressions come from. … So much racism is unconscious and springs from imagined fears. … It has to do with who gets pulled over, who gets locked up” (New York Times, November 29, 2014). The purpose of this essay is to analyze Rankine’s literary expression of how everyday racism is experienced by many Black Americans.
Assignment: Write a 4-page paper in which you analyze and discuss specific literary ways in which Citizen evokes the experience of racism. Draw on your knowledge of psychologists’ research on unconscious bias and conduct your own research into the social, political, or historical context of Rankine’s work. Discuss how Rankine expresses her ideas and how she makes her points by focusing on one of the following: narrative voice or point of view (“you,” “I”); repeated imagery or situations; the relationship between the visual image and the written text in one section of the work; the organization of the whole work or of an individual section. Develop and support your point about how one of these elements is used to express Rankine’s ideas with your own original close reading analysis and at least three additional sources.
Again, there are four aspects of the book you can write about: (1) narrative voice or point of view (“you”;, (2) repeated imagery or situations (microaggressions); (3) the relationship between images (pictures or artwork in the book) and the written text in the book; or (4) how the book as a whole or one section of the book is organized.
Note: The Works Cited page for this essay should include entries for Citizen and at least three additional sources. Your sources can come from the library guide or your own research from credible academic sources.
Tips for writing the essay
- Use the guidelines on close reading and our class discussions to generate ideas about your topic.
- Use annotations and free writes about the readings to develop your ideas in writing.
- Use your research to support any claims you make about unconscious bias.
- Use credible internet sources to research information about political, social, and historical even, art works, or literature to which Rankine refers. You may also want to refer to reviews of Rankine’s work.