Week of October 3: (NIGHT class) Bodega Dreams, continued

Announcement: don’t forget that the first paper is due next Tuesday 10/3 by Midnight EST. See the assignments page if you need another copy. Note that the ACE Center in Lehman’s Old Gym is open from 10-2 on Saturday if you need last minute help with your paper. For help formatting sources, Purdue U’s online writing lab (OWL) is one of the best, most trustworthy sources. For the visually inclined, see their YouTube playlist.

For Tuesday, October 3, 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. Finally, mark what you think might be key turns in the plot (storyline) and significant developments.

Student presentation by Stanley, Angela, and Veronica

Below: Highlights from today’s class. Major themes and character sketches. (If you’re curious, you can see the lists developed by the day section here.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Thursday, October 5, Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams. Continue following the key themes and characters outlined. Highlight/underling passages of the book that you think show good examples of these themes or changes in key characters.

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Thursday April 2: Bodega Dreams conclusion and VOTE!!

For Thursday April 2: Read pages 107-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams.

We’ll start with a presentation by Elijah, Breonna, and Pretiva.

To guide your reading, think about the following things:

bodegaDs

  • 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?
  • Now for the fun part. I’m switching up the film I usually show and have boiled the numerous possible candidates down to a few finalists and 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 and Walter Hill’s The Warriors. I was also going for something that’s not too dark or depressing.

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

    Announcement: Aura Rodriguez from our class is involved with the following play that will be performed at Lehman next week. Details follow if you want something to do on-campus before spring break.

    “Price of Silence the Lehman born global theatre collective, which brings to life the struggle for women’s rights around the world for audiences to live and breathe activism, is returning to Lehman, April 1st and 2nd at 8 pm in the Lovinger Theatre. We are using theatre as a means of enculturation, to empower a new culture through experience, and education because our common humanity depends on it. I would like to notify all my fellow students about “Blurred Lines of Justice,” our amazingly powerful performance based on real life narratives about women struggling for justice against impossible odds, juxtaposed to modern rape culture and misogyny. As a Lehman student, being a part of this movement and this show that brings to the stage real stories of real people around the world has helped me become empowered to use my education, to join the fight against violence against women and make lasting social change. I encourage you all to join together and recognize the power of a collective influence in shaping the culture we live in. Break the Silence for your own reasons, for women all over the world, for the children that rise from them, for justice and for an end to violence in all forms.”
    Details are at their website.
    POS Flyer1a

    March 26th: Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams

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    For Thursday, March 26:, we move to the first novel of the semester. Read the first half — pages 1-107 — in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

    Presentation by Amanda, Neralda, and Victoria.

    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
  • More specifically, track how different characters see their neighborhood
  • 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).

    Thursday March 5: Miguel Piñero’s Poetry

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    For Thursday, March 5th, we move on to Miguel Piñero and read poetry selections from Outlaw: The Collected Works. Start by reading the “Introduction to the Poetry of Miguel Piñero” at the beginning of the book.

    Then read:

  • “La Bodega Sold Dreams”,
  • “A Lower East Side Poem”,
  • “The Book of Genesis According to San Miguelito”,
  • “This is Not the Place Where I Was Born”,
  • “Black Woman With the Blond Wig On”,
  • “Kill, Kill, Kill”.
  • “Running Scared”
  • “Seeking the Cause”
  • “New York City Hard Times Blues”
  • “Bastard Streets”
  • “The Lower East Side is Taking”
  • We’ll also have our first presentation by Willy, Monefa, and Benjamin to start the class.

    It’s not a lot of reading, however, you must read the poems slowly and carefully and choose 2 of them to read more than once. Take notes on key points that you think are significant, funny, interesting, or do a nice job of telling the story of the city. Spend extra time on “La Bodega Sold Dreams” and “A Lower East Side Poem”.

    Questions to think about as you read:

  • Based on Piñero’s biographical context, how do his stories match the life he’s living?
  • How does Piñero’s work differ from Pietri’s in form or content?
  • What language does he use and what effect does that have on his poetry?
  • What audiences do you think Piñero is writing for?
  • How do the characters in Piñero’s descriptions of “Loisaida” (Lower East Side) differ from Pietri’s characters in El Barrio?
  • What picture is Piñero drawing of his neighborhood?

    Watch Piñero read “Seeking the Cause”


    Reminder: Be sure to make plans to see Dutchman if you haven’t already before it closes! Also, keep working on your papers, which will be due shortly.

  • Week of March 17th: Bodega Dreams, continued

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    Photo: “Spanish Harlem” by Flickr user Edgar Zuniga, Jr. Creative Commons licensed. (Some Rights Reserved.)

    This week, we continue reading Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams. Be sure to take notes of key points and underline specific passages of the book that are good examples of them as you read.

    Be sure to take a look at the revised syllabus. Also, the new date for the midterm is Wednesday, March 26th in class. Do not miss it and make sure that you’re on time that day!. I’ll go over the exam format in class.

    For Monday 3/17: Read pages pages 55-107 in Bodega Dreams.

    For Wednesday 3/19: Read pages 108-157 in Bodega Dreams.

    To guide your reading, think about the following things:

    bodegaDs

  • 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 and the Power of images

    Bogle_bookFor Tuesday 10/8 read the “Black Beginnings” chapter from Donald Bogle’s book Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks on Black stereotypes, which is a PDF on the Readings page. We’ll use it (partly) as preparation for Dutchman and the Slave and Assata Shakur’s autobiography (which we’ll read later in the semester). Think about the following while you read:

  • What does it say about the emergence of stereotypes and how we view popular images?
  • How might this affect how we read/ see/ view images in the city and popular culture?
  • Are there any current examples from the news or popular media that fit the descriptions?
  • Are these categories still relevant or are we past this point?
  • For Thursday the 10th, we take a sharp turn and read the classic play Dutchman from Amiri Baraka (then named LeRoi Jones). We will also have a special guest speaker, Don Ramon of Rutgers University, to facilitate the discussion and present the play. For today, read only the first half of the book: the play Dutchman. (We’ll read the second half — The Slave — next.) 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.


    Donavan Ramon of Rutgers University
    Donavan Ramon of Rutgers University
    Donavan L. Ramon earned his B.A. in English and the Special Honors Curriculum at Hunter College (CUNY), where he was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. A specialist in African American Literature, he earned his M.A. in English at Rutgers University in 2012 and is now writing a dissertation that traces a genealogy of twentieth-century narratives of racial passing. Donavan coordinates the African American Graduate Interest Group at Rutgers where he is also a graduate assistant at the Center for Race and Ethnicity and he serves as the Member-at-Large for Diversity with the Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA).

    Week of 10/1: Bodega Dreams

    For Tuesday 10/1: Read pages pages 97-146 in Ernesto Quiñonez’s Bodega Dreams.

    For Thursday 10/3: Read pages 146-213 (end of book) in Bodega Dreams.

    To guide your reading, think about the following things:

    bodegaDs

  • 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?
  • Note: After we finish this book, we move on to Amiri Baraka (then known as LeRoi Jones)’s Dutchman and The Slave. Please make sure that you have the book by then.