Week of April 10: (Night class) Angie Cruz’s Soledad

Announcements:

  • I gave out the assignment sheet for the the second paper on The Warriors and it’s due April 17. Details on the assignments page. You can view The Warriors (or Do the Right Thing which we’re not officially watching this semester) on the Video page: same password as everything else. I suggest watching it at least one more time and taking good notes while you watch.
  • I’ll be returning the first paper to you via the same email address you sent it from. Look for it tomorrow.
  • I probably don’t need to say this, but we’re off next week for spring break
  • There’s an important event on Wednesday April 11: former Black Panther Party member Ericka Huggins will be visiting Lehman! The event’s from 4-5 PM in the Music Building’s Faculty Dining Room (right inside the main entrance on the first floor). Event flyer’s here (PDF). Extra credit is available is you’re attending and want to write something up. The assignment sheet for the extra credit will be available on the assignments page the week we return from break.
  • Have a great spring break!

On Tuesday, 4/10, 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 3 chapters: up to page 45 (Chapters 1-3) in the new paperback edition. 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?

On Thursday, 4/12, Read pages 47-111 (Chapters 4-5) in Soledad.

Presentation by Bryan, Anthony, and Justin.

 

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Week of April 10: (Day class) Angie Cruz’s Soledad

Announcements:

  • I gave out the assignment sheet for the the second paper on Do the Right Thing and it’s due April 17. Details on the assignments page. You can view Do the Right Thing (or The Warriors which we’re not officially watching this semester) on the Video page: same password as everything else. I suggest watching it at least one more time and taking good notes while you watch.
  • I’ll be returning the first paper to you via the same email address you sent it from. Look for it tomorrow if you haven’t gotten it yet.
  • I probably don’t need to say this, but we’re off next week for spring break
  • There’s an important event on Wednesday April 11: former Black Panther Party member Ericka Huggins will be visiting Lehman! The event’s from 4-5 PM in the Music Building’s Faculty Dining Room (right inside the main entrance on the first floor). Event flyer’s here (PDF). Extra credit is available is you’re attending and want to write something up. The assignment sheet for the extra credit will be available on the assignments page the week we return from break.
  • Have a great spring break!

On Tuesday, 4/10, 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 3 chapters: up to page 45 in the new paperback edition. 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?

On Thursday, 4/12, Read pages 47-111 (Chapters 4-5) in Soledad.

Presentation by Tandy, Jennifer, Chris, and Emma.

 

Week of March 27: (NIGHT class) The Warriors film

For Tuesday, March 27, we’re going to take a detour and watch and discuss the film The Warriors (Walter Hill director, Paramount Pictures, 1979). We’ll watch the first half of the film on Tuesday and finish it Thursday before spring break.

To prepare, read this Village Voice feature on the film and its legacy.

Also skim the storyline from the official film website.

The film is set largely at night, in 1970s New York, and mostly on trains, so mobility and movement is a major theme, as is the noir feel, coming from the gritty, underground nature of the city at that time and the emphasis on (fictional) streetgangs.

This is a contrast to some of what we’ve read so far, as it offers a dystopian (and somewhat anarchic) view of New York as a crumbling city in crisis, which is not far off the reality of the period, as NYC was emerging from a crippling fiscal crisis.

Optional: Surf around the film website, especially list of shooting locations. Also, the plot loosely mirrors actual events, as a early 1970s gang truce in the South Bronx was precipitated by the killing of a member of the Ghetto Brothers–who then decided not to retaliate. This is also a crucial moment in the formation of hip hop, as the gangs began to channel their energy into creative output. (See Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop for a fuller account)

For more background on actual 1970s New York street gangs, Henry Chalfant’s Flyin’ Cut Sleeves is essential viewing, and includes a lot of footage used in later films. It’s on YouTube as of this writing.

The documentary From Mambo to Hip Hop focuses specifically on the early period of hip hop and evolution of Bronx street gangs. It’s also on YouTube (as of now) and embedded below.

For Thursday, March 29, we finish watching The Warriors and discuss the film and major themes. Reading TBA. (Check back for an update.)

Week of March 27 (Day class): Do the Right Thing

On Tuesday March 27, we’ll finish watching Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing and discuss the film and the readings assigned for it. To prepare, read the following:

  • Pay particular attention to the excerpt from from Murray Forman’s book The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) on reading urban space, which is a PDF on the Readings page.
  • Then read this article from New York magazine (“The Tipping of Jefferson Avenue” ) on the intersection of race and Brooklyn gentrification.
  • Make a list of themes you see covered in the film
  • See my Do the Right Thing lecture notes on the lecture notes page
  • Continue preparing for the midterm, rescheduled for 3/29. See the outline in last week’s post

On Thursday, 3/29, we will have the rescheduled Midterm exam. Note that this is the last class before spring break, so do not miss it! Make-ups will not be offered.

Week of March 20 (NIGHT class): Baraka’s Dutchman and Midterm

dutchman-dvd-1967-shirley-knight-al-freeman-leroi-jones-e0aa.png

Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman.

For Tuesday March 20, we finish our discussion of Dutchman. Re-read Clay’s final speech at the end of the play and other key sections. Think about last week’s discussion questions and what makes it an urban play. Also think about how you might stage it as a play. How might characters act? How would you imagine them? We’ll watch clips of performances and compare them. Read Baraka’s short essay “The Revolutionary Theatre” (download the PDF here) and relate it to Dutchman. Does the play do what he proposes here?

Extra: Listen to Baraka reading the essay in 1965 in the WNYC Radio archives.

Also begin studying for the midterm.

Optional: Watch an interview I did for The Queens Grapevine on Amiri Baraka’s life and legacy.

Thursday March 22nd is the Midterm exam. It will be given in class and no notes or books will be allowed. Do not miss it! Makeups will not be offered. Format will be short answer questions plus one essay (choose one from 2 options) on themes from Bodega Dreams, Dutchman, or Short Eyes and poems we’ve covered so far. Know: basic plot points and characters of the book and plays, be able to identify key themes, and the main points of 2-3 poems each from both Pietri and Piñero. Also know basic biographical info about Pietri and Piñero.

Exam resources: See the presentations page for your class as a quick overview of major points covered. Also see my own presentations on the lecture notes page.

Week of 3/27: The following week, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Your choices are Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979) or Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989). You’ll get to vote on which one we see in class.

Announcements:

  • Lehman’s library has expanded hours for midterm exams. They’re open 24/7 during midterms. The IT Center (first floor, Carman Hall) has computers and tech help and usually have expanded hours during exam periods. Check their schedule for details.

Week of March 20 (DAY class): Baraka’s Dutchman and The Warriors [UPDATE!]

UPDATE: Midterm exam’s postponed to Thursday 3/27 because of the winter storm. Lehman will be open this Thursday. Scroll down for revised class plan.

Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman.

For Tuesday March 20, we finish our discussion of Dutchman. Re-read Clay’s final speech at the end of the play and other key sections. Think about last week’s discussion questions and what makes it an urban play. Also think about how you might stage it as a play. How might characters act? How would you imagine them? We’ll watch clips of performances and compare them. Read Baraka’s short essay “The Revolutionary Theatre” (download the PDF here) and relate it to Dutchman. Does the play do what he proposes here?

Extra: Listen to Baraka reading the essay in 1965 in the WNYC Radio archives.

Also begin studying for the midterm.

Optional: Watch an interview I did for The Queens Grapevine on Amiri Baraka’s life and legacy.

 

For Thursday March 22nd, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing won the vote, so that’s what we’ll watch. We’ll spend the entire class on the first half of the film. DTRT is now a classic film, but was extremely controversial at the time. commenting on race relations, gentrification, police violence, and much more. We’ll focus on the aspects of race relations, police brutality, gentrification, and urban space as seen in the film.

Thursday March 27th is the NEW MIDTERM EXAM DATE.  The exam’s been postponed because of the weather advisory. DO NOT MISS THE NEW DATE! It’s the last day before spring break. It will be given in class and no notes or books will be allowed. Do not miss it! Makeups will not be offered. Format will be short answer questions plus one essay on themes of the Juan Flores essay, Bodega Dreams, Dutchman, or Short Eyes and poems we’ve covered so far. Know: basic plot points and characters of the book and plays, be able to identify key themes, and the main points of 2-3 poems from both Pietri and Piñero. Also know basic biographical info about Pietri and Piñero.

Week of 3/27: The following week, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Your choices are Walter Hill’s The Warriors (1979) or Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989). You’ll get to vote on which one we see in class.

Announcements:

  • Lehman’s library has expanded hours for midterm exams. They’re open 24/7 during midterms. The IT Center (first floor, Carman Hall) has computers and tech help and usually have expanded hours during exam periods. Check their schedule for details.

Week of 3/13: (NIGHT class) Bodega Dreams conclusion and Dutchman

Announcement: The first paper’s due tomorrow (Friday 3/9) via email. Details on the assignments page. Double check my email address before you send it.

For Tuesday March 13th: Read pages 157-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams.

Presentation by Christina, Erica, Christine, and Chris

To guide your reading, think about the following things:

  • 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?dutchman-dvd-1967-shirley-knight-al-freeman-leroi-jones-e0aa.png
    Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman

    For Thursday March 15th:, we take a sharp turn and read the classic play Dutchman from Amiri Baraka (then named LeRoi Jones). For Tuesday, read only the first half of the book: the play Dutchman. Even though it’s short, you need to read it slowly and carefully.

    Pay attention to the following to guide your reading:

  • What are the key themes or topics that you think the play talks about?
  • How does the setting of the play affect the action? What role does the subway train play?
  • What does it say about life in the city or urban environments?
  • There are crucial points in the play where the plot (action) turns that decide the outcome. What do you think they are?

Read the final few pages of the play more than once. What’s the significance of Clay’s final speech?

Watch the following short YouTube video with Baraka discussing the context of the play and some of what influenced him to write it.