Week of May 8: (Night class) Assata conclusion

220px-Assatabio

Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester is due Tuesday May 8. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

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

This week we finish our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday May 8, read chapters 13-16 (pages 195-240) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • 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 May 10 finish Assata: pages 241-end of book (chapters 17-Postscript). 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 Henry and Natalie

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

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Week of May 8: (Day class) Assata conclusion

220px-Assatabio

Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester is due Tuesday May 8. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

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

This week we finish our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday May 8, read chapters 13-16 (pages 195-240) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: Again, what do they add to the narrative? What insight do they give you about Assata’s inner thoughts?
  • 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 May 10 finish Assata: pages 241-end of book (chapters 17-Postscript). 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 Monique, Chae, Cheick, and Bre

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

Week of May 1: (Night class) Assata Shakur’s Autobiography, continued

220px-AssatabioAnnouncements

  • Keep working on the last written assignment of the semester. Download yours from the assignments page if you’ve misplaced yours. It’s due Tuesday May 8.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

This week we continue with our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday May 1, read chapters 4-7 (70-130). Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on page 130 (“Love”). 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 Scarlet, Leonor, and Jon

For Thursday May 3 

For Thursday May 3 Read chapters 8-12 (pages 131 to 194).

Pay close attention to the following:

* Poems “Stranger” (140), “Leftovers” (147), “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.
* Doing a good job of reading/notetaking here will pay off when it comes to the final exam. This will be one thing you know well and won’t have to study for.

Week of May 1: (Day class) Assata Shakur’s Autobiography, continued

220px-AssatabioAnnouncements

  • Keep working on the last written assignment of the semester. Download yours from the assignments page if you’ve misplaced yours. It’s due Tuesday May 8.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

This week we continue with our last book of the semester, the autobiography of Assata Shakur. For Tuesday May 1, read chapters 4-7 (70-130). Again, make sure to pay attention to the various poems she includes in the story on page 130 (“Love”). 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 Yash and Kisha

For Thursday May 3 Read chapters 8-12 (pages 131 to 194).

Pay close attention to the following:

* Poems “Stranger” (140), “Leftovers” (147), “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.
* Doing a good job of reading/notetaking here will pay off when it comes to the final exam. This will be one thing you know well and won’t have to study for.

Week of April 24: (Night Class) Def Poetry Jam and Assata

def-poetry-jam

Notes:

  • I gave out hard copies of the last written assignment of the semester. Download yours from the assignments page if you missed class. It’s due Tuesday May 8.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

For Tuesday April 24 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?
  • What, if anything makes them “urban” or ties them to urban themes?
  • Lastly, choose 2 poems you like, watch them a few times, take some notes, 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.

For Thursday April 26, read the first 69 pages (chapters 1-4) 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.

 

Week of April 24: (Day Class) Def Poetry Jam and Assata

def-poetry-jam

Notes:

  • I gave out hard copies of the last written assignment of the semester. Download yours from the assignments page if you missed class. It’s due Tuesday May 8.
  • For anyone interested, I’m teaching Intro to Africana Studies (AAS 166) in the fall on Wednesday nights from 6-8:40 PM. Section XW81. Search by my name or the course/section in CUNYFirst. It satisfies the “World Cultures and Global Issues” core requirement and is a gateway to a major (or minor) in Africana Studies.

For Tuesday April 24 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?
  • What, if anything makes them “urban” or ties them to urban themes?
  • Lastly, choose 2 poems you like, watch them a few times, take some notes, 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.

For Thursday April 26, read the first 69 pages (chapters 1-4) 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.

 

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.)