Week of 12/5: (Night class) Assata, continued

220px-AssatabioAnnouncements: The assignment sheet for our final paper of the semester due 12/18 is on the assignments page. Go download it if you don’t have a copy.

Also take a look at a general guide I’ve written up for exams, “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF).

This week we continue with our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday 12/5, read chapters 10-13, (pages 148-208) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: “Culture” (159), and “To My Mama” (193). Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • Also think about her Fourth of July address on pages 167-170.
  • What spaces/ neighborhoods does she move through? Note them and how each of them either shapes the story and what it means to Assata.
  • Keep track of major themes that emerge in the story as you read. It’s a good idea to mark examples of them in the text and make a small note in your notebook.
  • Finally, go back through your notes and start making a list of all the themes that we’ve seen this semester. It will be a good start to preparing for the final.

For Thursday 12/7 finish Assata: chapters 14-Postscript (pages 208-274). Be sure to read the Postscript with her reflections on Havana! (Skip ahead if you must.) 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 identity, survival, freedom, immigration/migration, return home, urban space, etc. What’s the significance of the story ending in Cuba and how does Assata adjust to her new home?

Presentation by Tyrone, Kevin, Bris, and Mercy

Consider this prep for the final exam. If you read this carefully, it’s one less thing you’ll need to study!

Reminder: the final exam is Thursday December 14 from 8-10 PM. See the Registrar’s full schedule (PDF!) to find your other classes.

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Week of 12/5: (Day class) Assata, continued

220px-AssatabioAnnouncements: The assignment sheet for our final paper of the semester due 12/18 is on the assignments page. Go download it if you don’t have a copy.

Also take a look at a general guide I’ve written up for exams, “Zen and the Art of Finals” (PDF).

This week we continue with our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday 12/5, read chapters 10-13, (pages 148-208) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: “Culture” (159), and “To My Mama” (193). Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • Also think about her Fourth of July address on pages 167-170.
  • What spaces/ neighborhoods does she move through? Note them and how each of them either shapes the story and what it means to Assata.
  • Keep track of major themes that emerge in the story as you read. It’s a good idea to mark examples of them in the text and make a small note in your notebook.
  • Finally, go back through your notes and start making a list of all the themes that we’ve seen this semester. It will be a good start to preparing for the final.

For Thursday 12/7 finish Assata: chapters 14-Postscript (pages 208-274). Be sure to read the Postscript with her reflections on Havana! (Skip ahead if you must.) 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 identity, survival, freedom, immigration/migration, return home, urban space, etc. What’s the significance of the story ending in Cuba and how does Assata adjust to her new home?

Presentation by Nayeli, Arlene, William, and Simaya

Consider this prep for the final exam. If you read this carefully, it’s one less thing you’ll need to study!

Weeks of 11/21-28: (Night Class) Assata Shakur’s autobiography

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Announcements:

  • Remember that the paper based on Do the Right Thing (posted on the assignments page) is due next week, even though class does not meet!  As a reminder, you can stream the film from the video page.
  • Tuesday 11/21 is a Friday schedule (PDF!) in the wacky world of CUNY, so we don’t meet again until the 28th.

After the break we move on to the our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur

For Tuesday 11/28, read the first 98 pages (chapters 1-5) 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?

What physical spaces and places does Assata describe in the story? What is the significance of them?

We are not primarily concerned with figuring out guilt innocence here (and in any case don’t have all the court documents to review): the goal is to read her story as we would any other autobiography and focus on how the story develops and how she develops into the person she is today. Look for clues of these things in the story.

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

Thursday, November 30th, read pages 99-147 (Chapters 6 to 9) in Assata. 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.

Presentation by Jarissa, Michael, and Steve.

Weeks of 11/21-28: (Day Class) Assata Shakur’s autobiography

220px-Assatabio

Announcements:

  • Remember that the paper based on Do the Right Thing (posted on the assignments page) is due next week, even though class does not meet!  As a reminder, you can stream the film from the video page.
  • Tuesday 11/21 is a Friday schedule (PDF!) in the wacky world of CUNY, so we don’t meet again until the 28th.

After the break we move on to the our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur

For Tuesday 11/28, read the first 98 pages (chapters 1-5) 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?

What physical spaces and places does Assata describe in the story? What is the significance of them?

We are not primarily concerned with figuring out guilt innocence here (and in any case don’t have all the court documents to review): the goal is to read her story as we would any other autobiography and focus on how the story develops and how she develops into the person she is today. Look for clues of these things in the story.

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

Thursday, November 30th, read pages 99-147 (Chapters 6 to 9) in Assata. 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.

Presentation by Terrell and Giselle

 

Week of 11/14: (Night class) Soledad conclusion and Def Poetry Jam

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Announcements:

  • Continue working on the paper based on Do the Right Thing (posted on the assignments page) and remember that you can stream the film from the video page. Remember that it is due before the break, even though class doesn’t meet on Tuesday 11/21.
  • We start Assata over the upcoming break, so make plans to get your copy now if you haven’t already.

On Tuesday 11/14, [UPDATE: we’ll do this on Thursday because of the cancelled class.] 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?

Presentation by Veronica and Angela

 

def-poetry-jam

For Thursday 11/16 [UPDATE: Follow Tuesday’s assignment instead. No Def Poetry Jam! You can still watch the videos on your own though.] the assignment is to watch the Youtube videos of various poets from Russell Simmons’s Def Poetry Jam, which ran for several seasons on HBO. Also read Ben Brantley’s New York Times review of Def Poetry on Broadway.

Questions to think about:

  • How does being in front of a live audience change the perception of the poetry?
  • In the Pedro Pietri interview I posted, Pietri was critical of slam poetry and thought it relied too much on people’s personalities and being performers–do you agree?
  • What do their stories say about the urban experience?
  • Lastly, choose 2 poems you like, watch them a few times and be prepared to discuss in class.Here are the poems. There are several, but they’re mostly short. It’s less than a half hour, total.

Week of 11/14: (Day class) Soledad conclusion and Def Poetry Jam

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Announcements:

  • Continue working on the paper based on Do the Right Thing (posted on the assignments page) and remember that you can stream the film from the video page. Remember that it is due before the break, even though class doesn’t meet on Tuesday 11/21.
  • We start Assata over the upcoming break, so make plans to get your copy now if you haven’t already.

On Tuesday 11/14, [UPDATE: we’ll do this Thursday instead.] 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?

 

def-poetry-jam

For Thursday 11/16 [UPDATE: Follow Tuesday’s assignment instead. No Def Poetry Jam! You can still watch the videos on your own though.] the assignment is to watch the Youtube videos of various poets from Russell Simmons’s Def Poetry Jam, which ran for several seasons on HBO. Also read Ben Brantley’s New York Times review of Def Poetry on Broadway.

Questions to think about:

  • How does being in front of a live audience change the perception of the poetry?
  • In the Pedro Pietri interview I posted, Pietri was critical of slam poetry and thought it relied too much on people’s personalities and being performers–do you agree?
  • What do their stories say about the urban experience?
  • Lastly, choose 2 poems you like, watch them a few times and be prepared to discuss in class.Here are the poems. There are several, but they’re mostly short. It’s less than a half hour, total.

Week of November 7: (Night Class) Angie Cruz’s Soledad, continued

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

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Note: The next writing assignment, due Monday 11/20, is on the Assignments page. Please download it and start working on it if you missed class on Thursday 11/2. You can stream the film from the Video page on the course website. Usual password.

Reminder: Tuesday is election day. CUNY classes meet as usual, so be sure to vote early. See a voter guide with info on your local races (courtesy of public radio station WNYC) here.

On Tuesday November 7th, we continue with Soledad. Read chapters 4-5: up to page 111 in the new paperback edition.

For Thursday November 9th, read pages 112-180, chapters 6-8 of Soledad. Continue tracking the themes we’ve identified and how characters develop in the book.

Presentation by Manny, Kliomarggy, and Yolanda

 

  • 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?