The American Lyric: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River | Newberry

The American Lyric: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River

Led by Matt Laufer. 1 session, 10 am - 3 pm. (1 hour lunch)
Saturday, August 4, 2018
Saturday, August 4

10 am - 3 pm

Cost and Registration Information

Early Registration Price (April 17 at 10 am – May 4 at 4 pm): $105
Regular Registration Price (May 4 at 4 pm – first day of class): $115.5

Members, seniors, and students get a 10% discount.

Register Online

Excuse our dust!

The Newberry is undergoing an extensive first floor renovation in 2018. This project will be ongoing during the Summer 2018 seminar term. The Adult Education Seminars Program still has use of the basement classrooms, but please check this link frequently for the latest conditions - which exterior doors are open or closed, where to find an accessible entrance, which restrooms are available, etc.

Because of the renovation, the Newberry Bookstore will be closed during the Summer 2018 term. As such, seminar participants will be responsible for acquiring all required texts for their seminars on their own. We apologize sincerely for the inconvenience, and appreciate your understanding. We have put together a list of helpful resources that should make it easy to find the books you need.

Seminar Description

Citizen is Rankine’s Spoon River Anthology,” a critic wrote, “an epic as large and frightening and beautiful as the country.” Who can resist such an unlikely linkage? In this course we’ll tackle these two great American writers from different backgrounds (Jamaica/Kansas, blackness/whiteness, poetry/law) to see how they shed light on race and society. Rankine’s hybrid, award-winning book gives both new charge to Masters’s classic and vital energy to Black Lives Matter. One session.

Matt Laufer holds a PhD from Columbia University and has taught literature at Columbia, Barnard College, and various college preparatory schools. He has published articles on Nabokov, Melville, and Woolf.

Materials List


  • Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology. Signet, 2007. ISBN#: 978-0451530585
  • Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014. ISBN#: 978-1555976903

First Reading:

  • For the first class, please read the whole book Citizen: An American Lyric, and a selection of at least 10-15 poems from Spoon River Anthology.

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about our registration procedures.