Amid historic times, Claudia Rankine feels a deep sense of obligation. The celebrated poet and playwright is preparing to deliver a three-part lecture series at the University of Chicago during a pivotal moment: Russia has invaded Ukraine; the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world; and the United States, she said, still teeters between fascism and fragile notions of democracy.
What the U.S. people will choose next—electorally and beyond—is one of the central questions Rankine will explore in her upcoming talks. Starting April 6, her Berlin Family Lectures will focus on the meaning of survival, and what it means to continue living after crisis or catastrophe.
“All of us need to be doing whatever it is we know how to do to engage these questions,” said Rankine, professor of creative writing at New York University and the award-winning author of the poetry book Citizen, among many other works. “It’s about our lives, the lives of our children and our friends and family moving forward. These decisions about women’s bodies, voting and the ability to have as just a system as possible profoundly affect all of us.”