Citizen: An American Lyric Discussion Questions

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The following questions can help you to guide your high school students through a structured discussion about their reactions to Claudia Rankine's 'Citizen: An American Lyric'.

Citizen: An American Lyric

Citizen: An American Lyric is a 2014 book of poetry and prose by American poet Claudia Rankine that explores race and racism in the 21st century, specifically through the daily interactions with microaggressions. With its challenging structure and themes, this is a book that should leave students with lots to talk about. These questions can help to guide that discussion and provide some structure as students work through their thoughts and feelings about Citizen: An American Lyric.

Questions about Content and Structure

  • In one sentence, how would you describe Citizen: An American Lyric? What is this book about? What kind of book is this?
  • How does Citizen: An American Lyric begin? What did you find to be notable or significant about this opening? How does this set the tone for the book?
  • Provide a brief summary of each of the seven chapters of this book. What is each chapter about? What happens in each chapter? How is the information in each chapter presented or organized?
  • Which part of this book was your favorite? Why? What did you like about that section? Which section did you find the most challenging? Why?
  • Why do you think each chapter of this book is so different? Why are some prose, and some poetry? Why are there visual elements interspersed throughout? Is there a logic or structure to this? Why do you think that is?
  • What is a microaggression? Where do we see these throughout the book? How are microaggressions presented in the first chapter? How about the second chapter? How does these build upon each other throughout the entire book? Is one microaggression presented as a very big deal? Are constant microaggressions?
  • What was this book trying to say? What did you think about this message? What did you think about the book as a whole?

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