Week of December 4: (Night class) Assata conclusion

220px-Assatabio

Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester on Angie Cruz’s Soledad is due Tuesday December 4. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • UPDATE: Fixed dates for the reading schedule below!

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 December 4, read chapters 10-14 (pages 185-215) in Assata.

Pay close attention to the following:

  • Poems: “To My Mama” (193). 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 December 6 finish Assata: pages 216-end of book (chapters 15-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 Darlene Kriston, Tyrone, and Ashley

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

Looking ahead:

  • The last regular class of the semester is Tuesday December 11
  • We’ll have a formal review session in the last class on December 11
  • The final exam for your section is on Thursday December 20 from 8-10 PM in the usual classroom
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Week of December 4: (Day class) Assata conclusion

220px-Assatabio

Announcements

  • The last written assignment of the semester on Angie Cruz’s Soledad is due Tuesday December 4. See the assignments page if you’ve misplaced your copy of the instruction sheet.
  • UPDATE: Fixed dates for the reading schedule below!

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 December 4, read chapters 10-14 (pages 185-215) 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 December 6 finish Assata: pages 216-end of book (chapters 15-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 Nadia, Kat, Adrianna, and Kim

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

Looking ahead:

  • Finish Assata on Thursday December 6
  • The last regular class of the semester is Tuesday December 11
  • We’ll have a formal review session in the last class on December 11
  • The final exam for your section is on Tuesday December 18 3:45-5:45 PM in the usual classroom

Week of November 27: (Night Class) Assata Shakur’s Autobiography

Photo: Baba Zayid Muhammad | Hank Williams

Announcements:

  • 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 December 4.

For Tuesday November 27, We’re going to have a guest speaker on Assata Shakur and the Black Panther Party: Baba Zayid Muhammad. To prepare, read the first 79 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.

 

For Thursday November 29, read pages 80-147 (Chapters 5-9) in Assata Shakur’s Autobiography. 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 examples of them in your text.

Presentation by Mislie, Tati, and Nadira

Week of November 27: (Day Class) Assata Shakur’s Autobiography

Announcements:

  • 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 December 4.

For Tuesday November 27, read the first 79 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.

 

For Thursday November 29, read pages 80-147 (Chapters 5-9) in Assata Shakur’s Autobiography. 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 examples of them in your text.

Presentation by Mislie, Tati, and Nadira

Week of November 6 (NIGHT class): Dutchman conclusion and Soledad

Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman.

Announcements:

  • Election day is Tuesday November 6. CUNY classes (including ours) are still in effect. Find your local polling place and other info here.
  • I gave out the assignment sheet to the next paper, which is due November 20. It’s on the Assignments page if you’ve lost/don’t have one. You can also stream Do the Right Thing from the course website on the Video page–same password as everything else. You can also watch it in the Lehman Library and it’s available to rent in all the usual places. I suggest watching it at least one more time and taking good notes while you watch.
  • Quasi-related, but I’ll be speaking on a panel about the 50th anniversary of Lehman’s Africana Studies department on Thursday 11/8 in Lovinger Theater from 12:30-2. Stop by!

For Tuesday November 6, 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?

See my lecture notes on Dutchman

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

Watch the 1967 film version of Dutchman via YouTube. This production follows Baraka’s script closely and is one of the best productions you will see. It’s approximately 54 minutes.

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

 

 

On Thursday, 11/8, 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?

Presentation by Noemi and José.

Week of November 6 (DAY class): Dutchman conclusion and Soledad

Photo: Still from the 1967 film version of Dutchman.

Announcements:

  • Election day is Tuesday November 6. CUNY classes (including ours) are still in effect. Find your local polling place and other info here.
  • I gave out the assignment sheet to the next paper, which is due November 20. It’s on the Assignments page if you’ve lost/don’t have one. You can also stream Do the Right Thing from the course website on the Video page–same password as everything else. You can also watch it in the Lehman Library and it’s available to rent in all the usual places. I suggest watching it at least one more time and taking good notes while you watch.
  • Quasi-related, but I’ll be speaking on a panel about the 50th anniversary of Lehman’s Africana Studies department on Thursday 11/8 in Lovinger Theater from 12:30-2. Stop by!

For Tuesday November 6, 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?

See my lecture notes on Dutchman

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

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

 

 

On Thursday, 11/8, 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?

Week of October 23 (Night class): Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing

05_Flatbed_1 - JUNE

For Tuesday October 23:, 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.

Read 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.

dtrt_mookie_sal

For Thursday October 26:, we finish watching Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

Think about the various themes Lee’s dealing with in the film, especially in context of the time it’s set: Brooklyn in 1989.

Read this article from New York magazine on the intersection of race and Brooklyn gentrification. If you didn’t read the excerpt from Murray Forman’s The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip Hop on reading urban space (PDF on the Readings page), then please do so.

Optional Bonus: Watch the “Making of” documentary by Spike Lee and legendary, now deceased filmmaker St. Clair Bourne, via YouTube.