Title

Transcript, Travelogue: Open Letter to Claudia Rankine

Document Type

Poster

Event Website

https://source2022.sched.com/

Start Date

16-5-2022

End Date

16-5-2022

Keywords

Diversity, Race, Writing, College Composition

Abstract

The presenter will record herself reading her 2,000-word “open letter” in response to Claudia Rankine’s and Beth Loffreda’s anthology The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In the letter, the writer--a white, female-identifying college English professor—re-imagines her writing classroom twenty years ago as a liminal space where illusions of neutrality and authority in a class of culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse students are disrupted by an unexpected chain of events. A guest speaker lectures on race in America. The scripts of that space—textbook, lesson plan, student and professor voices—un-script and re-script themselves in this open letter from the future. The letter becomes a portal for the writer to return to that space and hour and publicly examine her fear of discussing race in the English classroom. Discussing race and writing opens an intersection between the students’ public and private identities, as evidenced by one student who begins to write about race in a new sort of “racial imaginary” that is both within and outside of the classroom space. The letter was written in Professor Katharine Whitcomb’s English 511: Introduction to Graduate Writing in Fall 2021. The Racial Imaginary consists, itself, of a collection of open letters from artists and poets that explore how race enters into art/writing: the creation of a “language of racial identity” and poetry as a site of “dramatization of race” (Spears). After reading the anthology, students were asked to write an open letter to Claudia Rankine. Spears, John. “An Open Letter from Claudia Rankine.” The Rumpus, 12 February 2011, https://therumpus.net/2011/02/12/an-open-letter-from-claudia-rankine/.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Katharine Whitcomb

Department/Program

English Professional and Creative Writing

Additional Mentoring Department

English Professional and Creative Writing

Additional Mentoring Department

Graduate Studies

Streaming Media

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Transcript, Travelogue: Open Letter to Claudia Rankine

The presenter will record herself reading her 2,000-word “open letter” in response to Claudia Rankine’s and Beth Loffreda’s anthology The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In the letter, the writer--a white, female-identifying college English professor—re-imagines her writing classroom twenty years ago as a liminal space where illusions of neutrality and authority in a class of culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse students are disrupted by an unexpected chain of events. A guest speaker lectures on race in America. The scripts of that space—textbook, lesson plan, student and professor voices—un-script and re-script themselves in this open letter from the future. The letter becomes a portal for the writer to return to that space and hour and publicly examine her fear of discussing race in the English classroom. Discussing race and writing opens an intersection between the students’ public and private identities, as evidenced by one student who begins to write about race in a new sort of “racial imaginary” that is both within and outside of the classroom space. The letter was written in Professor Katharine Whitcomb’s English 511: Introduction to Graduate Writing in Fall 2021. The Racial Imaginary consists, itself, of a collection of open letters from artists and poets that explore how race enters into art/writing: the creation of a “language of racial identity” and poetry as a site of “dramatization of race” (Spears). After reading the anthology, students were asked to write an open letter to Claudia Rankine. Spears, John. “An Open Letter from Claudia Rankine.” The Rumpus, 12 February 2011, https://therumpus.net/2011/02/12/an-open-letter-from-claudia-rankine/.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2022/CAH/15