Monthly Archives: March 2014

Week of 3/31: Angie Cruz’s Soledad

On Monday, March 31, we turn to Angie Cruz’s novel of Dominican immigrants in Washington Heights, Soledad.

Angie Cruz, author of "Soledad"

Angie Cruz, author of “Soledad”

Read the first 55 pages (halfway through chapter 4). Note: 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?
  • cvr9780743212021_9780743212021_lgOn Wednesday April 2nd, we continue with Soledad. Read chapters 4-5: up to page 111 in the new paperback edition.

    Week of 3/24: Bodega Dreams conclusion and Midterm

    For Monday the 24th: Read pages 157-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams. We’ll also continue review for the midterm, which is on Wednesday, the 26th.

    To guide your reading, think about the following things:

    bodegaDs

  • What are the key themes of the book? Mark specific examples of them in the text.
  • How do characters develop. What changes do you see? Are there any surprising changes? Again, note specific examples in the text.
  • What seem to be key turns of the plot?
  • How does Quiñonez present urban space and the urban experience? How do different characters see the neighborhood that they live in?
  • What is the role of culture?
  • Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)

    Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)

    The Midterm will be on Wednesday the 26th in class. We started review in the last class, and 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. (The City/ La Ciudad can be watched from this site: see the Video page.)
  • 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 March 17th: Bodega Dreams, continued

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    Photo: “Spanish Harlem” by Flickr user Edgar Zuniga, Jr. Creative Commons licensed. (Some Rights Reserved.)

    This week, we continue reading Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams. Be sure to take notes of key points and underline specific passages of the book that are good examples of them as you read.

    Be sure to take a look at the revised syllabus. Also, the new date for the midterm is Wednesday, March 26th in class. Do not miss it and make sure that you’re on time that day!. I’ll go over the exam format in class.

    For Monday 3/17: Read pages pages 55-107 in Bodega Dreams.

    For Wednesday 3/19: Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams.

    To guide your reading, think about the following things:

    bodegaDs

  • What are the key themes of the book? Mark specific examples of them in the text.
  • How do characters develop. What changes do you see? Are there any surprising changes? Again, note specific examples in the text.
  • What seem to be key turns of the plot?
  • How does Quiñonez present urban space and the urban experience? How do different characters see the neighborhood that they live in?
  • What is the role of culture?
  • Week of March 10th: Piñero’s Drama and Bodega Dreams

    short_eyes

    For Monday, March 10th read Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243) in Outlaw.

    Questions to think about to guide your reading:

  • What characters does he show in the play?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have on his poetry?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • What’s the setting he chooses and what side of the city does that show?

    Watch the legendary singer Curtis Mayfield sing one of the songs from the film version (he also had a small part in the film and composed/performed the soundtrack).




    ElBarrioBoxSet_HiRes

    For Wednesday March 12th:, we move to the first novel of the semester. Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

    A few things to pay attention to in the book are:

  • The characters Quiñonez creates and what slice of city life they show
  • How urban space is shown in the book and what different characters think about their surroundings
  • The role of culture and what it means
  • Quiñonez’s relationship as a writer to Pietri and Piñero (there are numerous references to both and their poetry throughout the book)
  • The “American Dream” and what it means to the characters in the book
  • How different generations of immigrants/migrants relate to the city and city life
  • Race and gender relations
  • This isn’t a complete list, but these are a few key things that jump out at me. Begin to look for connections/ similarities / differences in things we’ve read (and other things you’ve read/ watched /studied in other classes, etc).