Week of 11/25: Assata Shakur’s autobiograpy

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

Announcement: Remember that papers are due Tuesday, 11/25 by email. Again, the assignment sheet lives on the Assignments page. I’ll also be adding another option for extra credit. Extra credit assignment options are now posted on the assignments page..

For Tuesday 11/25, read the first 70 pages (chapters 1-3) 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?

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

    Thursday, November 27th we do not meet because of the holiday. Enjoy your break.

  • For the week of April 8: Angie Cruz’s Soledad

    First, remember that there’s an assignment due on April 19th (yes, it’s a Friday). Extra time becuase it’s based on David Riker’s feature film The City/ La Ciudad that we saw in class and you’ll probably want to watch it again and take notes. That also means that there are no excuses for turning it in late. Head on over to the assignments page to download it if you haven’t already. Links are also up there for where to find copies of the film to watch again.

    For Monday 4/8, we’ll continue reading Angie cruz’s novel Soledad. We’ll cover chapters 1-6 on Monday (up to page 136 in the new paperback edition).

    For Wednesday 4/10, we’ll cover chapters 7-8 (up to page 180 in the new paperback edition).

    In addition to the points I made to look for in last week’s post, here are a few more things to think about in terms of thinking about Soledad as an urban narrative based on the additional info in the upcoming chapters.

  • We briefly discussed the settings in the last 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. One point of tension in the plot is the difference between the younger and older grnerations of characters in the book 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?
  • There are, obviously, many more things, but these are a few to ideas to think about and note as we work our way through the book. We’ll finish it off (page 230) next Monday, the 15th.