Week of May 5: Assata conclusion

220px-AssatabioKeep working on your final papers. Assignment is to send me (if you haven’t already) a one paragraph proposal of what you’ll be writing on via e-mail. This week we finish the autobiography of Assata Shakur.

For Monday May 5th, read chapters 13-16 (pages 194-240) in Assata.

For Wednesday May 7th, finish Assata: chapters 17-postscript. Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on pages 240 (“Current Events”), 259 (“To My Daughter Kakuya”), and 263 (“The Tradition”). Think also about the themes that we’ve been talking about so far and how Assata’s work fits into the context of urban narratives and themes of immigration/migration, return home, urban space, etc. Consider this prep for the final exam. If you read this carefully, it’s one less thing you’ll need to study.


Week of April 28th: Assata, continued

220px-AssatabioThis week we continue with our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Monday April 28th, read chapters 4-8 (70-140). Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on pages 130 (“Love”), 140 (“Stranger”). Think also about the themes that you should now be able to identify that we’ve been working on all semester. Note specific places in the book where they appear and mark them in your text.

For Wednesday April 30th, read chapters 9-12, (pages 141-194) in Assata.

Notes: You should keep working on the final paper and run ideas about it by me via e-mail or office hours. The assignment is on the assignments page if you’ve lost the sheet. Also, there will be 2 short pop quizzes on Assata in the next 2 weeks. They will be at the beginning of class and count as attendance also. So keep up with the reading and don’t miss them!

Spring Break ’14: Assata for Wed 4/23

Photo Credit: memegenerator

220px-AssatabioThis week we move on to the our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur

Announcement: I handed out the assignment sheet for a paper on Wednesday 4/9 before we left, due Friday, May 16th. You can download it here (PDF). It also lives on the Assignments page.

For Wednesday April 23rd, We will also have a special guest speaker, Don Ramon of Rutgers University, to facilitate the discussion of the book. 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?
  • 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.

    Donavan Ramon of Rutgers University
    Donavan Ramon of Rutgers University
    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 where he is also a graduate assistant at the Center for Race and Ethnicity and he serves as the Member-at-Large for Diversity with the Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA).

  • Week of April 7: Soledad conclusion

    Photo: “Washington Heights Piece” by Flickr user Aoife. Creative Commons licensed.

    For Monday April 7th, read pages 112-174, chapters 6-7 (halfway through chapter 8 in the paperback) of Soledad. Continue tracking the themes we’ve identified and how characters develop in the book.

  • We’ve discussed the settings in class: the split between the East Village and Washington Heights and what each represents. Watch for locations as you read, how Cruz presents them, and what different urban spaces mean to key characters.
  • Point of view. Soledad comes from a female author and the P.O.V. the reader gets is primarily from women. What differences (if any) do you notice?
  • Following on the last point, one key subtext of the book are the various forms of violence against women. Think about this as you read and what it feels like for the various characters to move through urban spaces.
  • Culture. Another point of tension in the plot is the difference between the younger and older generations of characters and between more traditional Dominican culture and the different outlook that the younger, Americanized characters have. What are the differences between how characters see the world and their place in it?
  • cvr9780743212021_9780743212021_lgOn Wednesday April 9th, we finish Angie Cruz’s novel Soledad. Read chapters 8-11 (end–page 230) in the new paperback edition. In addition to the points and themes we’ve been tracking all along, consider the following:

  • What changes do we see in Soledad’s attitudes toward her mother, Richie, and Flaca?
  • How do her feelings towards the Dominican Republic and Washington Heights evolve?
  • What is the role of the supernatural or spirituality in the book’s conclusion?
  • How do memory and trauma affect the characters?
  • What do you think of the conclusion? Is it realistic? What happens to Soledad at the end?