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

4532037658_c96e8fa3fa_o
Photo: “Washington Heights Piece” by Flickr user Aoife. Creative Commons licensed.

cvr9780743212021_9780743212021_lg

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 Joel, Sonia, Marie, and Marfre.

  • 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?

Week of October 31 (Night class): Do the Right Thing and Soledad

On Tuesday 10/31, we’ll wrap up Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing with a discussion of the film and the readings assigned for it. To prepare, catch up on the readings if you missed any.

  • Pay particular attention to the excerpt from from Murray Forman’s The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop on reading urban space, which is a PDF on the Readings page.
  • Then (re)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

On Thursday, 11/2, 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 47 pages (chapters 1-3). 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?

Student presentation by Angela and Veronica.

Week of October 31 (Day class): Do the Right Thing and Soledad

On Tuesday 10/31, we’ll wrap up Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing with a discussion of the film and the readings assigned for it. To prepare, catch up on the readings if you missed any.

  • Pay particular attention to the excerpt from from Murray Forman’s The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop on reading urban space, which is a PDF on the Readings page.
  • Then (re)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

On Thursday, 11/2, 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 47 pages (chapters 1-3). 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?

Student presentation by Elaine, Chris, and Stephanie.

Week of May 4: Assata Shakur’s autobio, part 1

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

Announcement: The deadline for the second paper has been extended to Monday May 8 by Midnight EST. See the assignments page for details.

For Thursday 5/4, read pages 1-98 (Chapters 1-5) in Assata Shakur’s  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?
  • How does the story deal with / describe urban space and the neighborhoods the story is set in. What locations does she mention in the text? What does each one mean to her?
  • Think about how Assata’s character develops and signs for what you think makes it an “urban” narrative.Think about how she deals with different themes we’ve discussed in class so far.Choose a few significant quotes from the text to show key points. Write down why they’re significant and what they show in your notes. Explain in your own words how you think the quotes relate to larger themes in the book or other things we’ve covered this semester.

    Presentation by Robert, Shan, Zain, Natalia, and Miriam.

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

Thursday April 6: Soledad conclusion

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For Thursday 4/6 finish Soledad (end–page 230) in the new paperback edition. 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?
  • What’s Soledad’s view of the American Dream and class mobility? Does it change over the course of the book? How?In addition to the general themes listed above, consider the following specific points:
  • 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?
    Presentation by John, Julio, Dauris, and Fanny.
    Reminder: [Edit: the paper due date has been extended until 4/10–during spring break] The paper on The Warriors is due on 4/6. This weekend is the time to put some work into it if you haven’t yet. Review the assignment sheet and re-watch the film, taking good notes. Note: the video’s now available to stream on the video page. Strongly consider a trip to the ACE Center for help crafting your paper, especially if you want a good grade. Schedule an appointment for early next week to make sure you have time before the due date. Of course, you can run ideas past me via email and/or meet with me in office hours next week to discuss, no matter where you are in the process.

Thursday March 30: Angie Cruz’s Soledad, Part 1

On Thursday, 3/30, 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 5 chapters: up to page 111 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?

Presentation by Ron, Angelica, Ritu, and Mamta.

Announcements: I gave out the assignment sheet for the the first paper today and it’s due April 6. 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.