Spring Break edition: Angie Cruz’s Soledad

Angie Cruz, author of "Soledad"
Angie Cruz, author of “Soledad”
First, apologies for the verylate post: I’ve been dealing with some health issues enjoy your break and I hope you get some time to relax. When we return, we’ll get right into Angie Cruz’s novel of Dominican immigrants in Washington Heights, Soledad. Over the break, read chapters 1-4 (up to page 80). Warning: it starts slow and Cruz’s narrative is non-linear and slightly more challenging than what we’ve read so far, but the effort is worth it. It is also the first from a female POV and female author. Here are a few things to think about as you read:

  • What do the different urban spaces in the book (the East Village) and (Washington Heights) represent to Soledad?
  • What are Soledad’s feelings toward her family and the neighborhood and how do they change? (Spoiler: they do)
  • The narrative is “non linear” (i.e. it doesn’t proceed in chronological order, time-wise) and the narrator (person telling the story) changes. Try to track the characters and who is speaking.
  • What tensions are there between old school Dominican culture and the different strands of US culture?
  • Also, I neglected to hand out the writing assignment before we left for the break. Here it is as a Microsoft Word document file: CntmpUrbWrtComparePaper. It’s due Friday, April 19th by e-mail.


    For the week of 3/18: David Riker’s The City/La Ciudad

    la__cuidadThis week, we’ll take a turn into filmic representations of the city and city life from an immigrant’s perspective with a screening of director David Riker’s 1998 film La Ciudad/(The City). Prepare to take good notes, as there will be a writing assignment on it over spring break. For people following online, though apparently out of print, the film’s available on Netflix and at the NY Public Library if you’re in the NYC area.

    For Monday, we’ll watch the first half of La Ciudad. Read this short review and one from the New York Times of the film.

    On Wednesday, we’ll finish watching La Ciudad. In preparation, watch this YouTube video with director and screenwriter David Riker discussing his approach to making the film. Also think about the following thematic questions:

  • What does the film tell us about immigrants/migrants to the city?
  • How are the visions here similar or different from those we read in Pietri, Pinero, and Quinonez?
  • What does it tell us about work in the city and, again, similarities and differences with/from the Pietri’s vision, particularly “Puerto Rican Obituary”?
  • What sort of environment does the city present in the film?
  • How does the notion of urban space work in the film?
  • For the week of 3/11: Midterm time!

    Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)
    Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)
    On Monday, we’ll have a formal review session for the midterm exam, which is Wednesday. Also finish reading Bodega Dreams if you haven’t yet. We’ll take final questions and points on that as well. Here are some things to consider.

  • Review all the readings. Make sure you have them handy and re-download anything you can’t find.
  • Know writers and the key plot points of the book and plays we’ve read so far and be able to talk about the main characters in each.
  • Review the poems and writers. You don’t need to know everything we’ve done, but you should know a few key poems from Pietri and Pinero and basic biographical info about their lives.
  • Think about key themes that we’ve been talking about so far this semester and how they occur in different works we’ve read. Think about how you would write an essay about one (or more) of them and examples of those themes in different things we’ve read/watched/listened to.
  • If you haven’t read or watched anything, now’s the time to do it! You’re responsible for anything that’s been assigned or posted here as an assignment, including video.
  • Finally, bring any questions you have.
  • Wednesday is the Midterm. Be on time and do not miss it! I will not be offering make-ups unless you’re hospitalized and have proof. So be there. Set your alarm clock and leave earlier than usual. The exam is hard, but not tricky. If you’ve been in class, paid attention, and done the work, you should be fine.

    Week of 3/4: Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams

    For Monday 3/4: Read pages pages 97-146 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

    For Wednesday 3/6: Read pages 146-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams.

    As you read, think about the key themes of the book. Also think about how characters develop. What changes do you see? Are there any surprising changes? What seem to be key turns of the plot?