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.


  • 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.