Week of 4/29: autobiography of Assata Shakur

220px-AssatabioThis week we move on to the our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Monday 4/29, read the first 70 pages (chapters 1-3) of Assata: An Autobiography. Be sure to read the foreward by Angela Davis and Lennox Hinds. Also make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on pages 1,17,44, and 62.

Questions to think about:

  • How effective is her style of storytelling? Does the non-linear narrative with flashbacks make the book more engaging?
  • What are some of the ways you see her struggle against some of the stereotypes we saw in Marlon Riggs’ Ethnic Notions documentary last class?
  • How does Assata go about re-telling history?
  • What role do poems play in an autobiography? What do they tell you about Assata or the other people that the regular story does not?

    Extra: Listen to “A Song for Assata” by Common, from his 2000 Like Water for Chocolate release, featuring CeeLo Green.

    For Wednesday 5/1 Don Ramon of Rutgers returns as a guest speaker for Assata. Pay special attention to the “Fourth of July” speech for his talk and discussion. Read pages 71-117 (chapters 4-6) to prepare.

    Donavan Ramon
    Donavan Ramon

    Donavan L. Ramon earned his B.A. in English and the Special Honors Curriculum at Hunter College (CUNY), where he was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. A specialist in African American Literature, he earned his M.A. in English at Rutgers University in 2012 and is now writing a dissertation that traces a genealogy of twentieth-century narratives of racial passing. Donavan coordinates the African American Graduate Interest Group at Rutgers and serves as the Member-at-Large for Diversity with the Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA). This semester, he’s teaching a course on Race and Ethnicity in literature at Rutgers-New Brunswick.