OpenLab Assignment#1: What’s in a name?

In what ways do our names define who we are? In this definition assignment, explore the meaning of your name and how it relates to your personality. First, read Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s poem “Proper Names in the Lyrics of Troubadours.” Then, use the questions below to write your own poem or creative prose composition introducing yourself to the class. 

Proper Names in the Lyrics of Troubadours

My parents never call me Rowan.

I’m Ricky, from Ricardo.

But not Ricky Ricardo.


I’m also the first Phillips in my family.

My mother decided Phillip, my father’s

Family name, sounded too much like a first name.


(In America, at least).

Rowan Phillip would lead inevitably

To Phillip Rowan. That was her story, and she’s sticking to it.


For the record, that’s an Old Norse first name,

A Spanish middle name,

And one of those faux-English-faux-Dutch-sounding last names


That’s really Greek for lover of horses.

“Rowan Ricardo Phillips”:

Another of those names that straddles seas in the sails of unseen


Ships. Still, it sounds typically West Indian to me.

And like “the West Indies” indefinite.

An indefinite room in an indefinite poem.


It took me a while to accept it.


After reading the poem, read the following questions and answer at least five of them.

  1. What does your name mean to you
  2. Research and explore why you were given your name
  3. Explore the connotations your name has (for you and other people)
  4. Think about how you feel about your name and why you feel this way
  5. If you were named after someone, explore and/or compare and contrast that person to yourself
  6. Compare and contrast yourself to other people with your name
  7. Explore any abbreviations of your name and the implications these have had on who you are
  8. Explain what your name does not mean
  9. Examine the definitions of your name and how these relate to who you are
  10. Examine the history of your name and how they relate to you
  11. Write about how this research into your name impacts your understanding of yourself

Based on your responses, write a poem or a creative prose composition introducing yourself and your name to the class.

Post to OpenLab! Include a photograph or image in the post or as your avatar. ..

Welcome to ENG 1121: English Composition II

The Fire This Time: Writing at the Intersection of Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality in 21st Century America.

English Composition II is an advanced, discipline-specific composition course in which you will build on the practices, processes, research, and genres you explored in ENG 1101. With an emphasis on analytical approaches to argumentation and a research project, you will refine academic, critical, and informational literacy skills. This class will focus on themes of social inequality and identity in 21st century America and emphasize the development of critical literacy and consciousness through reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about contemporary literary works that explore the intersections or race, class, gender and sexuality. Writing assignments will build on these themes while exploring a variety of genres as you will be encouraged to develop your own unique voice while developing rhetorical awareness, critical thinking and reading, writing and research skills. Prerequisites: ENG 1101; CUNY certification in reading and writing.