Monthly Archives: September 2016

Weeks of October 4 and 11: Midterm exam and Black Stereotypes [Updated]

Due to CUNY holidays, class does not meet until Thursday October 13. (See the Lehman schedule here). The midterm is scheduled for when we return on Thursday 10/13. Part 1 is take home and should be brought with you to class. See the Fall 2016 Midterm page (uses same password as the Readings page — see your syllabus) for the topic.

Parts 2 and 3 will be short answers and an in class essay, respectively. All parts count equally as 1/3 of the grade.

Bogle_bookFriday October 14 is a Tuesday schedule in CUNY, so we have our only Friday meeting of the semester. Read the “Black Beginnings” chapter from Donald Bogle’s book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks on Black stereotypes, which is a PDF on the Readings page. We’ll use it (partly) as preparation for Dutchman and the Slave and Assata Shakur’s autobiography (which we’ll read later in the semester). Think about the following while you read:

  • What does it say about the emergence of stereotypes and how we view popular images?
  • How might this affect how we read/ see/ view images in the city and popular culture?
  • Are there any current examples from the news or popular media that fit the descriptions?
  • Are these categories still relevant or are we past this point?
  •  
    Optional:
     

  • Director Marlon Riggs’s Ethnic Notions (1987) documentary shows the creation of stereotypical images of Black people in film. We’ll watch a few clips in class. You can watch the full film online from the Kanopy site. You’ll need to log in to Lehman’s library database with your barcode (on the front of your ID card) for access off campus.
  • Director Marlon Riggs’s Color Adjustment (1991) documentary deals with images of Black people in Television. It’s online on Kanopy, too. You’ll need to log in to Lehman’s library database with your barcode (on the front of your ID card) for access off campus.
  • The Bronze Screen (2007) covers Latinx images in TV and film. It’s available on Netflix.
  • Week of September 27: Bodega Dreams, continued

    4253359676_431c046328
     
    For Tuesday, September 27th, Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams. Continue following the same questions posed in last week’s post and look for key themes. Highlight/underling passages of the book that you think show good examples of these themes or changes in key characters.
     
    We’ll start the class with a presentation by Sadio and Jaideen.
     
    For Thursday, September 29th, Read pages 157-213 (end of book) 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 have characters developed or changed over the course of the book? 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? What’s the status of Bodega’s dream at the end of the book and what effect has the story had on the neighborhood and people?
  • What is the role of culture?
  •  
    We will not meet on 10/4, 10/6, and 10/11 because of CUNY days off. Remember that we have a midterm scheduled on Thursday 10/13 when we return. I’ll give out the format and info in class this week.

    Week of September 20: Bodega Dreams

    4253359676_431c046328
     
    Announcements: See my presentation on ways of analyzing texts on the Lecture Notes page. My presentation on Piñero will also be up there soon.
     
    For Tuesday, September 20th, we’ll finish our discussion of Miguel Piñero’s play Short Eyes and then move to the first novel of the semester. Please bring both books to class! Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams. We’ll start the class with a presentation by Kevin and Emerson.
     
    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).

    For Thursday, September 22nd, Read pages 55-107 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

    Continue following the major themes of the book and refer to the questions above for guidance. Also begin to look at how characters evolve and change over the course of the book. Finally, mark what you think might be key turns in the plot (storyline) and significant developments.

    Week of 9/13: Miguel Piñero’s Poetry and Plays

    201206181054540.Miguel_Pi_ero_noticel
     
    Announcements: You can see the members of your group presentation at the Doodle poll (also at the quick link on the right hand margin of the webpage). I’ll send an email to connect all the members and some additional instructions within the next week after everything’s finalized.
     
    For Tuesday, September 13th, read the following poems: “Running Scared”, “Seeking the Cause”, “New York City Hard Times Blues”, “Bastard Streets”, and “The Lower East Side is Taking” from Outlaw. Again, it’s not a lot of reading, but you need to read the poems slowly and carefully.
     
    Take good notes and think about the following questions as you read:
     

  • Based on Piñero’s biographical context, how do his stories match the life he’s living?
  • How does Piñero’s work differ from Pietri’s in form or content?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have on his poetry?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • How do the characters in Piñero’s descriptions of “Loisaida” (Lower East Side) differ from Pietri’s characters in El Barrio?
     
    If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!
     
    Watch Piñero read “Seeking the Cause”


     
    For Thursday, September 15th

    short_eyes

     
    Read< “The Drama of Miguel Piñero” at the front of Outlaw and then read Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243). Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: similar to Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about.
     
    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?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • What similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • What’s the setting he chooses and what side of the city does that show?
  • What are some of the key themes the play deals with?
  • Identify key points of the play where the storyline (plot) turns or changes. Mark significant points where this happens in your book and write them down in your notes. What causes the plot turns and how might actors on stage make them believable?
     

    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).


  • Week of September 6: Pedro Pietri’s Poetry

    Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project

    Pedro Pietri reading at the Poetry Project


    Announcement: Be sure to fill out the survey to choose a date for your group presentation. If you didn’t get one in class today, the assignment sheet describing what to do is on the Assignments page. Presentation sign up sheet is here. Note that it closes next week, so choose quickly!
     
    Tuesday 9/6: continue reading Pedro Pietri’s poetry from the same PDF on the Readings page as last week. (Re?)Read the poem “Puerto Rican Obituary” and “The Broken English Dream”. Also read “Suicide Note from a Cockroach”, “Love Poem for My People”, “Unemployed” and “OD”.

    Now that we’ve covered some of Pietri’s life, think about how points from his personal outlook on religion, death, and the ambivalence toward the American Dream are reflected in the poems. Again, look for specific points that reveal how he approaches the subjects and make a note of them.

    Think of the following questions as you read:

  • How does Pietri’s writing define the urban experience for the people he’s writing about?
  • What type of urban environment does he describe?
  • What language does he use and how does that reflect the urban situation?
  • Do you see any of the points Pietri makes in the interview reflected in the writing? Make note of a few examples.
  • 201206181054540.Miguel_Pi_ero_noticel
    Thursday 9/8: We move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Read the “Introduction to the Poetry of Miguel Piñero” at the beginning of the book.

    Then read:

  • “La Bodega Sold Dreams”,
  • “A Lower East Side Poem”,
  • “The Book of Genesis According to San Miguelito”,
  • “This is Not the Place Where I Was Born”,
  • “Black Woman With the Blond Wig On”,
  • “Kill, Kill, Kill”. (Up to page 17.)
  • It’s not a lot of reading, however, you must read the poems slowly and carefully and choose 2 of them to read more than once. Take notes on key points that you think are significant, funny, interesting, or do a nice job of telling the story of the city.

    Questions to think about as you read:

  • Based on Piñero’s biographical context, how do his stories match the life he’s living?
  • How does Piñero’s work differ from Pietri’s in form or content?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have on his poetry?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • How do the characters in Piñero’s descriptions of “Loisaida” (Lower East Side) differ from Pietri’s characters in El Barrio?