CITIZEN is the 2017-18 Common Book at the University of Kansas!

Citizen

The University of Kansas has selected Citizen by Claudia Rankine as their 2017-18 KU Common Book!

All incoming first-year students received copies of the book at orientation during the school’s welcome week. Common Book events will be held throughout the academic year to enable continued community-wide discussions. Group discussions around Citizen began on August 20, where returning student leaders, faculty, and staff members met with new students and engaged with the core themes of the book.

Claudia Rankine will visit campus to discuss Citizen on September 7, 2017, at 7 p.m. at KU’s Lied Center for “An Evening with Claudia Rankine.” Following this event, Rankine will be back on campus on September 8 at 10 a.m. in Woodruff Auditorium for a Q&A session. Other scheduled Common Book events include a special art exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art that is in conversation with Citizen; a screening of “Whose Streets,” a film that focuses on the events that followed the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, at the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium on September 13; and a campus community panel and discussion of Citizen on October 25.

Citizen was selected by the Common Book Selection Committee because it is an accessible yet dynamic text that is both relevant within the current cultural moment and also amendable to diverse analyses. “The notions of citizenship and identity loom at the forefront of ongoing debates,” explained Cécile Accilien, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and a member of the KU Common Book Selection Committee. “Rankine skillfully and carefully weaves a tapestry of powerful images moving through various genres ranging from poetry to YouTube videos to expose the violence that many people of color around the globe face on a daily basis.”

To better facilitate discussions around racial issues raised in the book, KU also sought to equip its faculty and staff with the tools to create safe spaces that encourage conducive debates. To fulfill this aim, the university organized two workshops for instructors who plan to use this book; these workshops were run by Dr. Siobhan Scarry, Professor of English at Bethel College, who has written extensively on how Citizen can be used in classrooms. Howard Graham, who leads the KU Common Book program, followed the workshops with an interview with Dr. Scarry where she discussed how she incorporated the book into her own classroom. The Office of First-Year Experience also intends to develop guides and assignments during the spring semester for faculty who are interested in using Citizen in their classroom.

The goal behind the KU Common Book is to engage first-year students in campus wide, topical discussions that allow students, faculty, and staff to build a community and create a shared academic experience. “By reading Citizen, new students will become part of important conversations at KU about how we decrease and eliminate microaggressions and help one another to thrive,” said Sarah Crawford-Parker, Assistant Vice Provost for the First-Year Experience.

The Common Book initiative is a key component of KU’s “Bold Aspirations,” which seeks to share intellectual experiences that invite analysis, foster critical thinking, and reflect the type of reasoned discourse that is expected at the college level. Books are nominated throughout the year by the KU community at large, shortlisted by the Steering Committee, and finally selected by the Selection Committee. Both of these committees include faculty, staff, and KU students. Although the primary focus of the Common Book initiative is to include and acclimate first-year and transfer students to life at KU, all students, and faculty and staff members can participate in the discussions.

Click here to see other schools that have adopted Citizen. Visit our Popular Picks page for more common reading options from Macmillan!

Citizen • Graywolf Press • 160 pages

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CITIZEN is Ramapo College’s 2016 #CommonReading Book!

Ramapo College (NJ) has selected Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric as their 2016 First-Year Seminar Summer Reading Book.

All incoming first-year students (approximately 900 students) are required to read Citizen over the summer, before heading to campus in the fall. Copies of the book are available for purchase in the campus bookstore. Students will discuss Citizen with their First-Year Seminar classmates once classes begin; students have also been assigned to either write a 750 word essay or compose a creative reflection based on their reading of the book. This exercise is meant to push students to use their critical thinking, reasoning, analytical, writing, and communication skills. Each student must complete one of the following assignments:

Essay:

“Rankine presents everyday, real life experiences of racism through poetry and image. How does Rankine create an effective argument about what it means to be an American citizen through these words and images?”

OR

Creative Writing Project: 

“Like Rankine does here, describe a specific experience of such a microaggression through poetry and image, or any creative medium that can be submitted electronically.”

The project is the first written assignment for the First-Year Seminar. Although all students are required to complete the assignment, they are also able to submit their work to the Class of 202o Essay Contest. Entries must be submitted electronically to the Director of First-Year Seminar, and up to three winners will win a $200 prize and lunch with Rankine.

Beyond the classroom, students will see Rankine speak on-campus on Sept. 6th at 2 p.m., when she attends the school’s Opening Convocation ceremony. The event provides students with an opportunity to establish an even deeper connection to Citizen.

Citizen was selected by a committee composed of first-year students, faculty, and staff from the Ramapo College community. Committee members used selection criteria to ensure that the book will:

  • Elicit in-depth discussions among first-year students in the classroom
  • Have a subject that is current, thought-provoking, and relevant to first-year students
  • Have an author who is an engaging speaker
  • Have style and content accessible to all students

Click here  to see other schools that have adopted Citizen, and more Popular Picks for common reading from Macmillan!

Citizen: An American Lyric • Graywolf Press • 160 pages