How do poets and playwrights hack the collective memory, reconfiguring the seemingly rigid narrative of the past in order to release liberatory possibility for the future? Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric pries open the seemingly fixed narrative of American memory through the staging of a constructed subjectivity. Cornelius Eady’s play Brutal Imagination invites history’s hidden specters into the public view, directly confronting the fissures exposed by Rankine’s (anti)-lyric. M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! conjures new ancestors from a wordbank originally used to legally silence/erase marginal humans. By engaging N. Katherine Hayles’ formulations of narrative and dataset, this article reads Rankine, Eady, and Philip as furthering the recombinatory expansion of social memory begun in Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ feminist interventions. Where DuPlessis redirects, these writers creatively hack in McKenzie Wark’s sense of the word, making visible the invisible process of mythologizing, and modeling for critics and readers new paths in time, new worlds of possibility.
Copyright © 2014 Jennifer Shook
Shook, Jennifer E. ""What alerts, alters": Hacking the Narratives of Cultural Memory with Rankine, Eady, and Philip." Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies
17 (2017): 31-50.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.17077/2168-569X.1428