Week of October 16: (Night Class) Bodega Dreams conclusion, Midterm, and FILM VOTE!!

Announcement: be sure to scroll to the bottom to vote and choose the film we’re going to watch.

Also: there’s a graduate school advising workshop on Wed. 10/17 in the Gillet Hall auditorium from 3:30-5 PM. [Update: link added to event]

For Tuesday the 16th: Read pages 157-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams. The midterm will be on Thursday the 18th.

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 view the neighborhood that they live in and does this change over time?
  • What is the role of culture?

 

Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)
Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)

The Midterm will be on Thursday the 18th in class. You’ll have (and want) the entire class period for it. We started review in the last class, and here are some things to consider.

  • Exam format: 2 parts. Part 1 is short answer questions (3-4 sentences). 7 or 8 questions based on assigned readings. Part 2 will be an essay. You’ll have a choice of topics related to a major theme in “Puerto Rican Obituary,” Short Eyes, or Bodega Dreams.
  • Review all the readings. Make sure you have them handy and re-download anything you can’t find.
  • Know writers and the key plot points of the book and play we’ve read so far and be able to talk about the main characters in each.
  • Review the poems and writers. You don’t need to know everything we’ve done, but you should know a few key poems from both Pietri and Pinero and basic biographical info about their lives.
  • Think about key themes that we’ve been talking about so far this semester and how they occur in different works we’ve read. Think about how you would write an essay about one (or more) of them and examples of those themes in different things we’ve read/watched/listened to.
  • If you haven’t read or watched anything, now’s the time to do it! You’re responsible for anything that’s been assigned or posted here as an assignment.
  • Review the presentations for Bodega Dreams generated by your classmates
  • Be on time and do not miss it! I will not be offering make-ups unless you’re hospitalized and have proof. So be there. Set your alarm clock and leave earlier than usual. The exam is hard, but not tricky. If you’ve been in class, paid attention, and done the work, you should be fine.

FILM VOTE for next week’s classes:

The following week, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Now for the fun part: I’m kicking the decision to you to vote for the one you want to see. What I’m looking for is something that shows NYC neighborhoods (or at least a neighborhood) with several outdoor shots, intersects with at least some of the themes we’ve seen, is in the time period we’re looking at but old enough to show a NYC that’s probably unfamiliar, and, honestly, I have or can get my hands on easily. It’s a quasi-scientific process with a heavy does of gut instinct. So here are the options: Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing or Walter Hill’s The Warriors. Lee’s now-classic film deals with issues of race, space, police violence, and neighborhood life in 1980s Brooklyn. The Walter Hill-directed The Warriors (1979) is almost pure camp: a fictional look at the (very real) gang life in early 1970s New York. The acting is over-the-top, plot is fairly simple, but there’s a lot of action and it’s a definitive New York film in many ways.

Here are trailers for both films, courtesy of YouTube. After that, make your choice with the poll below! One vote each (current students only, please). The poll will close next Thursday before class.

 

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Week of October 16: (Day Class) Bodega Dreams conclusion, Midterm, and FILM VOTE!!

Announcement: be sure to scroll to the bottom to vote and choose the film we’re going to watch.

Also: there’s a graduate school advising workshop on Wed. 10/17 in the Gillet Hall auditorium from 3:30-5 PM. [Update: link added to event]

For Tuesday the 16th: Read pages 157-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams. The midterm will be on Thursday the 18th.

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 view the neighborhood that they live in and does this change over time?
  • What is the role of culture?

 

Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)
Photo credit: Columbia Spectator newspaper (columbiaspectator.com)

The Midterm will be on Thursday the 18th in class. You’ll have (and want) the entire class period for it. We started review in the last class, and here are some things to consider.

  • Exam format: 2 parts. Part 1 is short answer questions (3-4 sentences). 7 or 8 questions based on assigned readings. Part 2 will be an essay. You’ll have a choice of topics related to a major theme in “Puerto Rican Obituary,” Short Eyes, or Bodega Dreams.
  • Review all the readings. Make sure you have them handy and re-download anything you can’t find.
  • Know writers and the key plot points of the book and play we’ve read so far and be able to talk about the main characters in each.
  • Review the poems and writers. You don’t need to know everything we’ve done, but you should know a few key poems from both Pietri and Piñero and basic biographical info about their lives.
  • Think about key themes that we’ve been talking about so far this semester and how they occur in different works we’ve read. Think about how you would write an essay about one (or more) of them and examples of those themes in different things we’ve read/watched/listened to.
  • If you haven’t read or watched anything, now’s the time to do it! You’re responsible for anything that’s been assigned or posted here as an assignment.
  • Review the presentations for Bodega Dreams generated by your classmates
  • Be on time and do not miss it! I will not be offering make-ups unless you’re hospitalized and have proof. So be there. Set your alarm clock and leave earlier than usual. The exam is hard, but not tricky. If you’ve been in class, paid attention, and done the work, you should be fine.

FILM VOTE for next week’s classes: [EDIT: embedded poll isn’t showing up for some reason; trying to fix it]

The following week, we take a detour into representations of the city in film. Now for the fun part: I’m kicking the decision to you to vote for the one you want to see. What I’m looking for is something that shows NYC neighborhoods (or at least a neighborhood) with several outdoor shots, intersects with at least some of the themes we’ve seen, is in the time period we’re looking at but old enough to show a NYC that’s probably unfamiliar, and, honestly, I have or can get my hands on easily. It’s a quasi-scientific process with a heavy does of gut instinct. So here are the options: Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing or Walter Hill’s The Warriors. Lee’s now-classic film deals with issues of race, space, police violence, and neighborhood life in 1980s Brooklyn. The Walter Hill-directed The Warriors (1979) is almost pure camp: a fictional look at the (very real) gang life in early 1970s New York. The acting is over-the-top, plot is fairly simple, but there’s a lot of action and it’s a definitive New York film in many ways.

Here are trailers for both films, courtesy of YouTube. After that, make your choice with the poll below! One vote each (current students only, please). The poll will close next Thursday before class.

 

Week of October 9: (Night class) Bodega Dreams, continued

Announcement:

  • NY State’s voter registration deadline is approaching for the November elections. Download an application here (PDF). New applications must be postmarked by 10/12 and received by 10/17. Changes in political party affiliation deadline is 10/12. Address change deadline is 10/17. You can also register/change info in person. Full details at the Board of Elections website.

 

For Tuesday October 9, Read pages 55-107 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

  • Continue following the major themes of the book and refer to the questions from last week for guidance.
  • Also begin to look at how characters evolve and change over the course of the book.
  • Think about how characters feel about their neighborhood and how the environment affects the characters and the plot (storyline)
  • Finally, mark what you think might be key turns in the plot and significant developments.

For Thursday, October 11, Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams. Continue following the key themes and characters outlined. Highlight/underline passages of the book that you think show good examples of these themes or changes in key characters.

Student presentation by Rita, Amy, Veronica, and Syntis

Week of October 9: (DAY class) Bodega Dreams, continued

Announcement:

  • NY State’s voter registration deadline is approaching for the November elections. Download an application here (PDF). New applications must be postmarked by 10/12 and received by 10/17. Changes in political party affiliation deadline is 10/12. Address change deadline is 10/17. You can also register/change info in person. Full details at the Board of Elections website.

 

For Tuesday October 9, Read pages 55-107 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

  • Continue following the major themes of the book and refer to the questions from last week for guidance.
  • Also begin to look at how characters evolve and change over the course of the book.
  • Think about how characters feel about their neighborhood and how the environment affects the characters and the plot (storyline)
  • Finally, mark what you think might be key turns in the plot and significant developments.

For Thursday, October 11, Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams. Continue following the key themes and characters outlined. Highlight/underline passages of the book that you think show good examples of these themes or changes in key characters.

Student presentation by Judy, Emma, Finn, and Letna

Week of October 2 (NIGHT class): Short Eyes and Bodega Dreams

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Finish the first written assignment due Tuesday October 2. See the Assignments page for it if you’ve misplaced your copy. (Re)Read the assignment sheet thoroughly and make sure you understand what I’m asking. There are no trick questions here: I’m looking for exactly what’s on there. Now is also the time to schedule time with Lehman’s ACE Center if you’re not totally confident about your writing ability. Also see the resources on the assignments page for some quick MLA formatting tips.
  • NY State’s voter registration deadline is approaching for the November elections. Download an application here (PDF). New applications must be postmarked by 10/12 and received by 10/17. Changes in political party affiliation deadline is 10/12. Address change deadline is 10/17. You can also register/change info in person. Full details at the Board of Elections website.

Recap from this week’s classes:

  • See my lecture notes on Piñero on the Lecture Notes page
  • Finished Piñero’s poetry
  • Intro to Short Eyes and historical contexts
  • See the short background clip on the 1971 Attica prison rebellion

Tuesday October 2: Finish reading Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243 in Outlaw) and watch the film version embedded below. (Re)read the Epilogue (pp. 235-243). Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about.

Questions to think about to guide your reading:

  • What characters does he show in the play?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • What similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • What’s the setting he chooses and what side of the city does that show?
  • What are some of the key themes the play deals with?
  • Identify key points of the play where the storyline (plot) turns or changes. Mark significant points where this happens in your book and write them down in your notes. What causes the plot turns and how might actors on stage make them believable?

Watch the film version of Piñero’s Short Eyes (1978). Piñero has a few scenes in the beginning as the fictional character Go Go. The famous soul vocalist Curtis Mayfield has a part also in addition to creating the soundtrack.

 

 

For Thursday, October 4, we’ll move to the first novel of the semester. Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

A few things to pay attention to in the book are:

  • The characters Quiñonez creates and what slice of city life they show
  • How urban space is shown in the book and what different characters think about their surroundings
  • The role of culture and what it means
  • Quiñonez’s relationship as a writer to Pietri and Piñero (there are numerous references to both and their poetry throughout the book)
  • The “American Dream” and what it means to the characters in the book
  • How different generations of immigrants/migrants relate to the city and city life
  • Race and gender relations

This isn’t a complete list, but these are a few key things that jump out at me. Begin to look for connections/ similarities / differences in things we’ve read (and other things you’ve read/ watched /studied in other classes, etc).

Presentation by: Rita, Eimy, Veronica, and Syntis

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

Week of October 2 (DAY class): Short Eyes and Bodega Dreams

short_eyes

Announcements:

  • Finish the first written assignment due Tuesday October 2. See the Assignments page for it if you’ve misplaced your copy. (Re)Read the assignment sheet thoroughly and make sure you understand what I’m asking. There are no trick questions here: I’m looking for exactly what’s on there. Now is also the time to schedule time with Lehman’s ACE Center if you’re not totally confident about your writing ability. Also see the resources on the assignments page for some quick MLA formatting tips.
  • NY State’s voter registration deadline is approaching for the November elections. Download an application here (PDF). New applications must be postmarked by 10/12 and received by 10/17. Changes in political party affiliation deadline is 10/12. Address change deadline is 10/17. You can also register/change info in person. Full details at the Board of Elections website.

Recap from this week’s classes:

  • See my lecture notes on Piñero on the Lecture Notes page
  • Finished Piñero’s poetry
  • Intro to Short Eyes and historical contexts
  • See the short background clip on the 1971 Attica prison rebellion

Tuesday October 2: Finish reading Piñero’s play Short Eyes (pages 193-243 in Outlaw) and watch the film version embedded below. Short Eyes is set entirely in a prison (actually a house of detention: think Riker’s Island). Think about what the setting means and how characters react to it. Also consider how Piñero’s own experience and outlook on life shape what and who he writes about.

Questions to think about to guide your reading:

  • What characters does he show in the play?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • What similarities or differences do you see with his poetry?
  • What’s the setting he chooses and what side of the city does that show?
  • What are some of the key themes the play deals with?
  • Identify key points of the play where the storyline (plot) turns or changes. Mark significant points where this happens in your book and write them down in your notes. What causes the plot turns and how might actors on stage make them believable?

Watch the film version of Piñero’s Short Eyes (1978). Piñero has a few scenes in the beginning as the fictional character Go Go. The famous soul vocalist Curtis Mayfield has a part also in addition to creating the soundtrack.

 

 

For Thursday, October 4, we’ll move to the first novel of the semester. Read pages 1-54 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

A few things to pay attention to in the book are:

  • The characters Quiñonez creates and what slice of city life they show
  • How urban space is shown in the book and what different characters think about their surroundings
  • The role of culture and what it means
  • Quiñonez’s relationship as a writer to Pietri and Piñero (there are numerous references to both and their poetry throughout the book)
  • The “American Dream” and what it means to the characters in the book
  • How different generations of immigrants/migrants relate to the city and city life
  • Race and gender relations

This isn’t a complete list, but these are a few key things that jump out at me. Begin to look for connections/ similarities / differences in things we’ve read (and other things you’ve read/ watched /studied in other classes, etc).

Presentation by: Sergio, Shawnette, and Lucero

If you keep up with the weekly reading and take good notes, then you’ll be well prepared for the midterm and final exam and get much more out of the class!

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.