"'This Moment of Manumission': Representing Exceptional Blackness in Claudia Rankine's Citizen and Marvel Comics' Captain America," Dr. Jonathan Gray

Friday, February 17, 2017 - 4:00pm
Butler 203
Event Category: 

Feb 17 - This talk considers Claudia Rankine's depictions of Serena Williams and Zinedine Zidane in her latest poetry collection, Citizen: An American Lyric alongside Marvel Comics recent reconceptualization of Captain America to illuminate the ways that exceptional citizenship extends to those racial minorities that purportedly represent the noblest ideals of the state. Both Rankine and the creative teams at Marvel that produce Captain America want their readers to question the iconicity of these figures, to trouble their positioning in popular culture in order to grapple with how exceptional Black citizenship exposes the contradictions of race in post post-Civil Rights, post- 9/11 America.

Bio: Jonathan W. Gray, Associate Professor of English at John Jay College-CUNY and the CUNY Graduate Center, works on post-WWII American culture, specifically African American literary production, popular culture, comic books and graphic novels, and narratives of visual culture. His first book, Civil Rights in the White Literary Imagination (Mississippi) traces changes in white literary production during the period between the Brown case and the death of Martin Luther King. His forthcoming project, Illustrating the Race (Columbia), investigates how the twin understandings of illustration—the creative act of depiction and the political act of bringing forth for public consideration—function in the representation of African Americans in comics and graphic narratives published since 1966. Prof. Gray co-edited Disability in Comics and Graphic Novels for Palgrave McMillian and founded the Journal of Comics and Culture (Pace). Prof. Gray’s journalism on popular culture has appeared in The New Republic, Entertainment Weekly, Salon.com, Medium, and the New Inquiry.

Free and open to the public.