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2017-18 KU Common Book Events

The following are events related to Citizen: An American Lyric, or one of its many themes. Please return to this page to see more events as they are created. If you have an event to add, please email

Past Events

Dr. Siobhan Scarry's Visit

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Various Times
The Commons, Spooner Hall

Dr. Siobhan Scarry, professor of English at Bethel College, will be on campus Tuesday, August 15th to facilitate two workshops for instructors who plan to use the book. Professor Scarry has written nationally on the topic of teaching Citizen. her article "Pure Conduit: The Superconductive Powers of Rankine's 'You'" appeared in the Southern Humanities Review (June 2016). These workshops will take place in The Commons, Spooner Hall.

  • Workshop I   2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
  • Workshop II   4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
If you are interested in attending one of the sessions on Tuesday, August 15th please email us at

Common Book Discussion Groups

Sunday, August 20, 2017
1 - 2:30 p.m.
Various campus locations
All new students will meet with returning student leaders and faculty and staff members to discuss "Citizen: An American Lyric", KU's Common Book for 2017-18. These discussions are an important part of Hawk Week and will help students be best prepared for the academic year ahead. 

An Evening with Claudia Rankine

Thursday, September 7, 2017
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Lied Center
Author of "Citizen: An American Lyric", Claudia Rankine, will be visiting campus to discuss her book and its selection as the KU Common Book for 2017-18. Buses will circulate campus the night of the event. They will run from 6-9:30 pm and stop at the following locations approximately every 8-10 minutes -

Kansas Union
Daisy Hill
Lied Center
For additional questions please contact the Office of First-Year Experience at or by phone at (785) 864-4270.

More Q&A with Claudia Rankine

Friday, September 8, 2017
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union
Following "An Evening with Claudia Rankine" the author will be back on campus the next morning for another Q&A session on her book, "Citizen: An American Lyric".

Exhibition: "In Conversation with the 2017-2018 Common Book"

On Display Until September 10, 2017
Spencer Museum of Art
This installation in the museum’s Jack and Lavon Brosseau Center for Learning includes the 2017–2018 KU Common Work of Art, "Magenta Colored Girl", as well as a Memorial Wall and other art from the museum’s collection that draws on themes from “Citizen: An American Lyric.” For more information about this exhibit visit the website here.

Global Film Festival "Whose Streets?"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium
As a part of the Global Film Festival, the Spencer Museum of Art will be hosting a screening of "Whose Streets?". This film focuses on the events that followed the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This event is co-sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, the Department of Film & Media Studies, and the Office of First-Year Experience.

Engaging "Citizen" from the Margins

Thursday, October 26, 2017
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall
At this event, attendees will listen to a roundtable of diverse KU staff, faculty, and students discuss the KU Common Book 2017-18 Citizen: An American Lyric. This event will be sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, The Commons and the Office of First-Year Experience.

Students as Scholars

Thursday, November 9, 2017
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Anschutz Library, 3 North
Join KU Libraries for a student-led panel discussion on themes from Citizen: An American Lyric. Enjoy snacks and conversation!

Achievement & Assessment Institute's (AAI's) KU Common Book Event

Thursday, November 16, 2017
4:30 - 7:00 p.m.
The Spencer Museum of Art
The event will begin with four "Citizens Speak" presentations followed by time for questions and answers with the presenters. Next, we’ll use a workbook to lead small group discussions around the book’s themes and create a personal action plan. The event will conclude with a networking reception so participants may continue conversations.
Citizen Speakers:
  • Jameelah Jones - Academic Advisor, TRIO McNair Scholars Program, the Achievement & Assessment Institute
  • Cecile Accilien - Associate Professor and Director of the Institute of Haitian Studies, AAAS
  • Giselle Anatol - Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of English
  • Kate Meyer - Curator, Spencer Museum of Art
Please RSVP for this event via

KU Common Book Discussion

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art Teaching Gallery
Incoming students will have the opportunity to discuss "Citizen: An American Lyric", KU's Common Book for 2017-18. These discussions are an important part of arriving to campus and will help students join the community conversation.

Workshop: Approaches to Teaching and Learning African American History

Thursday, January 18, 2018
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall
This session will engage a variety of texts and academic disciplines and will benefit instructors teaching the 2017-2018 KU Common Book, "Citizen: An American Lyric".
Please RSVP to

Public Lecture: Representations of African American History in U.S. Politics and Popular Culture

Thursday, January 18, 2018
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Lawrence Public Library
Free and open to the public. Dr. Pero Dagbovie will speak on representations of African American history in U.S. politics and popular culture as part of the Langston Hughes Center Diverse Dialogues on Race and Culture series.

KU Common Book Alumni Discussion (Wichita)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
Sunflower Room, University of Kansas Medical Center (Wichita)
Please join Howard Graham, Director of the KU Common Book Program, for a discussion of the KU Common Book program and the 2017-2018 KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric.  Learn about how KU chooses a common book and how the campus is engaging with and learning from Citizen. Participants will have an opportunity to engage in small group discussions around excerpts from Citizen

Talking Back: Citizen and You, An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Monday, February 26, 2018
6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall
In this interactive panel and discussion, graduate students will draw on themes in the KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric, to host critical discussion that will inform and challenge a variety of topics, including: notions of identity, acts of everyday racism, constructions of Blackness, institutional racism, prevalence of exclusion; and the role of art. The event facilitators will include: Shelia Bonner (Humanities), Creighton Brown (English), Jose Hector Cadena (American Studies), Alysha Griffin (Theatre).
Talking back is led by graduate students as an extension of The Future University programming at The Commons. This event engages the KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, through an interactive panel and discussion. Building on current ideas for teaching Citizen, this event will concentrate on methods for deconstructing and extracting the subject matter across disciplines. Coffee and sweets will be provided.
Sponsored by the Office of First-Year Experience, the College Office of Graduate Affairs, and The Commons.

Community Conversation, Unpacking Whiteness

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 p.m.
The Commons, Spooner Hall
A conversation about the meaning and history of ‘whiteness,’ and how it functions in the U.S. today, led by:
David Roediger, American Studies
Cécile Accilien, African & African-American Studies/Institute of Haitian Studies, Dave Tell, Communication Studies
Ami Nanavaty, American Studies & Microbiology, Honors Student
White people in the U.S. have so long dominated, in terms of numbers and power, that their racial identity does not get named or discussed. Too often, studying race means only studying people of color, despite powerful traditions of naming whiteness as a problem by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and Asian-American thinkers. This event will explore the meaning, history, and functions of ‘whiteness.’ For background, see “The First White President,” an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in the October 2017 issue of The Atlantic. Sponsored by the University Honors Program, the Achievement & Assessment Institute, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of First-Year Experience, and The Commons.
A brownbag lunch discussion with KU scholars. Coffee and sweets provided.

Exhibit Selected in Conversation with the 2017-18 KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

On View through March 4th
Monday - Closed
Tuesday, Friday, Saturday - 10:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Thursday - 10:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Sunday - Noon - 4:00 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art
Visit the Spencer Museum of Art to explore the exhibit that was selected to continue conversation about the 2017-18 KU Common Book, Citizen: An American Lyric. The exhibit will be up until Sunday, March 4th.

Alexandra Bell Public Talk

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium
Alexandra Bell, Venus Williams, 2017 (Photo Credit: We Are Not Pilgrims) via
Alexandra Bell’s work shares similarities with Claudia Rankine’s efforts in the KU Common Book Citizen: An American Lyric to interrogate racial bias in the media and honor the victims of racial injustice. Bell studied journalism before turning her attention to bias found in The New York Times, and reconstructs marked, edited, and revamped Times articles as temporary, large-scale, public works of art.
In addition to her public lecture, Bell will meet with students during her campus visit and will install examples of her Counternarratives on campus. These installations will be displayed for one month. In Venus Williams, Bell chides the Times for continuing to extensively profile retired tennis player John McEnroe at the expense of coverage for Williams, who actually played in the Wimbeldon final in 2017. Bell’s installation parallels Rankine’s scrutiny of media coverage of Venus’s sister Serena Williams in Citizen. To better integrate Bell’s visit and this public art installation with your classes, please consider using or adapting this assignment at, crafted by professional staff from the KU Libraries, School of Journalism, and Spencer Museum of Art.
Sponsored by: Office of First-Year Experience; Spencer Museum of Art; Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity; Department of African and African-American Studies; Department of American Studies; Department of Film & Media Studies; Department of Visual Art; The Hall Center for the Humanities; Kress Foundation Department of Art History; Office of Diversity & Equity; Office of Multicultural Affairs; University Honors Program; University of Kansas Libraries; William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications

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