Two Events this Week: Know Your Rights and Literary Arts Festival

Apologies for interrupting the flow of responses to Sweat, but there are two events I wanted to let you all know about this week.

  1. Immigration: Know Your Rights Forum: Tomorrow, Tuesday, April 25th directly before our class from 12:45 – 2 pm  in N119.  During this time we will provide training on  immigration rights and interaction with police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  We will share information about resources on campus, CUNY-wide, and in the community, and we will discuss ways that we can become further involved and mobilize on immigration issues at CUNY and beyond. The event is open to the CUNY community. Please spread the word!  Flier available here:Know Your Rights
  1. Literary Arts Festival
    The 36th annual Literary Arts Festival is being held next Thursday, April 27, 5:30 p.m. with the poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips. We are hoping you and your students will come. The event will be in the Voorhees Theater on Jay Street.
    More information is on the LAF OpenLab site:

Snow Day # 2!

As you have most likely heard, CUNY is closed again tomorrow as a result of the Blizzard.

Please use tomorrow to catch up on the reading, and start working on your creative non-fiction assignment. If possible, please email me your proposals for the creative non-fiction project tomorrow, and I will read them and give you feedback by email. My email is:

Also, please work on  Reader Response Paper # 4 in which you should focus on your overall reactions to Men We Reaped and/or your reaction to the end of Men We Reaped. As always, you must include at least one quotation from the text.

We will also likely have a visitor in class with us on Thursday, so please be on time and prepared!

Stay warm and safe!


For tomorrow,  make sure to look at the updated syllabus (see Class Schedule on OpenLab if you’re not sure). You are supposed to read:  “We Are Watching” & “Ronald Wayne Lizana” from Men We Reaped. 

Also, please post your reflections on the Literature Roundtable to OpenLab! Thank you to Jessica for posting her reflection to start the conversation!

Reminder: Tomorrow’s Class is in the Atrium Amphitheatre with Sarah Schulman!

Please be on time for the literature roundtable tomorrow at 2:30 pm sharp in the Atrium Amphitheater. Be prepared to ask questions and/or share your writing.

After the roundtable, for OpenLab assignment # 3, please reflect on the experience and write a short response about any reaction you had to the event and/or further questions.

Open Lab Assignment # 2

Thank you all for your introductions and fascinating thoughts on the history and meaning of your names.

For your next OpenLab assignment: share two questions you might like to ask author Sarah Schulman when she comes to City Tech by 2/19. If you see a question that you think is particularly thoughtful or interesting, please reply to your classmate and explain why.

Snow Day!

As you were all hopefully informed, all of CUNY (including City Tech) is closed today due to the storm. Thus, class is canceled for today.

For Tuesday, please complete the assignments for today AND for Tuesday.

This means that for Tuesday you should bring with you to class:

  1. Your reader response assignment #2 on Danticat & Baldwin
  2. Sarah Schulman, Selected Readings. Please print these out from the OpenLab site (they are listed under ‘Readings’ tab.
  3. One fact about Sarah Schulman.
  4. In addition, you should have read Chapter One of The Cosmopolitans, which is included in the Selected Readings.

If you have any questions about any of these assignments, please feel free to email me at

Please stay safe and warm!

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. ..