Graduation Year

2018

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Reader 1

Warren Liu

Reader 2

Aaron Matz

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Rights Information

© 2017 Rose B. Conlon

Abstract

This thesis argues that Claudia Rankine's two American lyrics destabilize the subject-object dialectic underwriting American lyricism. First, I consider Don’t Let Me Be Lonely’s rejection of spectatorship, insofar as spectatorship objectifies the suffering of the Other. Second, I analyze Citizen’s subversion of the lyric “I”, particularly as it vocalizes the “you”-position traditionally relegated to poetic object. I suggest that both works, by returning power to the object, manifest an aesthetic disruption to the racially-based power dialectic underpinning American lyric tradition. Eventually, I propose that Rankine mobilizes the poem as a future-space for the realization of an ideal politics.

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