Wrapping up the Semester

Can you believe it?? This coming week is the final week of class! Below is everything you need to know about what needs to happen between now and the last day of the semester.

Last Minute Office Hours
In addition to my regular office hours on Tuesday (12-2pm), I will be on campus tomorrow, M 12/16, in the afternoon, and have some availability to meet to discuss your final project write-up/presentations, final exam, &/or the final course reflection. Please e-mail me if you would like to schedule a conference with me for Monday or Tuesday.

Final Exam
As you know, your final exam will consist of reading a short article, writing a summary of that article, and then crafting an essay in response. Part I of the final exam (reading the article/writing a summary paragraph) will take place in class on Tuesday, 12/17. Part II of the final exam (writing a response essay to the article) will take place in class on Thursday, 12/19.

I encourage you, if you have not done so already, to review the “Strategies for Summarizing” post I made earlier this semester on on course site. Remember, for the response essay, while you should use your own experience (and the first person), you have to place that personal experience in dialogue with the text/article you are given (you must show connections between the article’s points–use details/quotes from the article–and your experiences/evidence).

All of the skills you practiced this semester (creating an Introduction, developing a thesis statement, paragraph development, creating strong topic sentences, critical reading, analysis, incorporating/citing sources, providing claims/evidence) apply here, so as long as you review those strategies, you should be all set for the exam.

*You may bring a dictionary (an actual, printed dictionary) to class to use both days of the exam (but you will not be allowed to use your phone, tablet, or computer in class to look up words).

The final exam is worth 10% of your overall course grade, and you must pass it to pass the course.

Please remember to arrive to class on time both days this week week, as we will begin the exams promptly at the start of class and will end exactly at the end of class. If you arrive late, you will not be given extra time to complete the exam.


Final Project Write-Up
The collaboratively written final draft of the Final Project as well as individual final project reflections are due by the start of class on Tuesday, 1218. Please visit the Final Project Write-Up page and Individual Final Project Reflection page on our site for more details on these assignments. As you make your revisions, I strongly encourage you to make use of the Notes for Revision and the Peer Review Assignment that I distributed/discussed in class.

Final Project Presentations

All groups will present in Professor Pawlukewicz’s class on W 12/18 (I will be there as well to watch/provide feedback on your presentations). Please visit the Presentations page on our course site for more details on this assignment.

Final Course Reflections

Your mandatory Individual Final Course Reflection is also due no later than the start of our last class (10am) on Thursday, 12/19. Make sure to bring a printed copy to me in class and to e-mail me an electronic version (Word document) before the deadline (we are not using a shared Dropbox folder for these, to retain individual privacy in your reflections). If you do not submit both a printed and electronic copy by the deadline, you will receive no credit for the work. Late assignments will not be accepted.

Please visit the Final Course Reflection page on our site for more details about what you should included in this final reflection.

Final Course Grades
The deadline for professors to submit final course grades for the Fall 2013 semester is 12/26. Please wait to view your final course grade online through CUNYfirst (I will not be giving out final course grades via e-mail). Once you see your final grade posted online, you should feel free to e-mail me for a breakdown of your grades (including what grades you received on these final assignments).

Final grades are non-negotiable, though I am always more than happy to discuss them/your work with you at any point. If you would like to discuss any of your grades/receive additional feedback on the final assignments/exams, you should e-mail me to schedule an appointment to discuss your work when we return to campus at the end of January (2014).

Thank you, & stay in touch!

Finally, it was a pleasure to work with you all this semester. I wish you the best of luck wrapping up the semester and on your final exams, and in your future endeavors at City Tech and beyond. You all worked incredibly hard this semester, and I really appreciate your consistent effort and good cheer day in and day out! I hope you enjoyed yourselves and learned a lot about reading, writing, and critical thinking. Have a wonderful winter break, & don’t hesitate to be in touch in future semesters to discuss your work in this course/beyond, and/or to just say hi 🙂

HW for Tu 12/3

I hope that you found today’s library session useful in terms of discovering library resources, locating sources, and using appropriate keywords to search. We will continue finding/evaluating sources for next week.

For our next class (Tu 12/3), each person should find/annotate two additional sources, and these sources must be found using the City Tech library databases. This means that each group will have 6 new sources by our next class. Each group should submit their work the following ways (don’t forget to put all group members’ names and the topic/site on your work):

  • post their new six annotated sources to OpenLab (categorize as “Annotated Bibliography)
  • bring three printed copies of their complete (12-source, with sources from Th 11/22 and Tu 12/3 combined)
  • submit one copy as a Word Document to Dropbox.

You should also touch base with your group members at some point before Tuesday’s class and start to discuss all of your research so far (fieldwork and academic research). Now that you have all of this new information (from your observations, surveys, and academic research), how are you going to approach your topic? What have you learned? What do you still need to learn? Can you focus things more with this new information? How are you going to put it all together?

*Also, as Professor Pawlukewicz explained, your observations and surveys are due on OpenLab by tomorrow (W 11/27). Each group should make two collaborative posts, one for observations and one for surveys, and categorize appropriately.

Most importantly, enjoy your holiday/break 🙂

Professor Belli Sick: No Class Today (Th 11/21)

Dear Class:

Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it into campus today. I’ve been at home sick for the past few days, and am still dealing with flu-like symptoms and a 103 fever, so I’m taking a sick day today to get better and not infect my students/colleagues.

We will be moving ahead with finding, evaluating, and annotated sources over the next week or so, so continue to work on that for your project. I’ve arranged for alternative assignments to make up for the missed class time, and will be posting it to OpenLab by tomorrow afternoon, so please check back then. Of course, don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions/concerns.

Please also remember that on Tuesday, 11/26, we have our Library Session, so we will not meet in our classroom, but outside of the library entrance on the 4th floor Atrium.

Also, just in case your classmates don’t check their City Tech e-mail accounts on a regular basis, can you pass this e-mail along (via personal e-mail address, call, or txt) to anybody in class whose contact info. you have (at the very least, your group members), so that they know class is cancelled?

Many thanks for your understanding, and see you on Tuesday!

Professor Belli

Research Proposals

Hi everyone:

Just a friendly reminder, since I will be out of town for the Society of Utopian Studies conference, tomorrow (Th 11/14) Professor Pawlukewicz will be covering our class.

As we discussed on Tuesday, you will spend all of class time tomorrow working together in your final project groups (if you need a refresher on who is in which groups, you can find the Final Project Groups here), brainstorming ideas and drafting your research proposal together.

An important part of this process is finding a “site” in City Tech (this can be a real, physical space, or a “virtual space” or a service/series of services, such as SEEK, or curricular activities, etc.). If possible, bring to class your New Student City Tech Handbook (that I distributed early in the semester), as this is a great resource for looking at the different services/sites at City Tech.

You should craft your research proposal according to what we discussed in class and what is posted on our course site under Research Proposal. A large part of this process is figuring out why this site is important in terms of students’ well-being/success at City Tech (why should people be invested in improving this site, and to devoting substantial resources–time, money, effort–to making it better according to your suggestions?), so spend some time in groups, before you start writing, thinking about your experiences as incoming (new) City Tech freshman, and what kinds of things you wish were different on campus.

Your group should post a collaborative post by Monday (11/18) night (one post for all three group members). However, I encourage you to post your blogs sooner than than so that I can provide some quick feedback to you in a  before Tuesday’s class.

As I mentioned, I strongly encourage (if you have access to one) bringing laptops to class so that you can draft the Research Proposal together there. City Tech wifi can be tricky, so make sure to arrive early to get online and troubleshoot any issues with that. Here are instructions for how to get online through the City Tech wifi.

And, not that you need reminding, but just a friendly reminder that the final draft of Essay #4 is due tomorrow: you should submit your final drafts to Dropbox and bring your folder (complete with peer review/pre-drafts) to class to hand in to Professor Pawlukewicz.

Have a wonderful week/end, and I’ll see you on Tuesday 🙂

Professor Belli

Reminder: readings + Happiness Archive due for Thursday’s (10/31) class

Hi Everyone:

Just a friendly reminder (since I see that no one yet has posted the blog due tomorrow) that, as we discussed in class, for tomorrow you are supposed to read the four things on the schedule for 10/31 (a mixture of short articles and websites that you should browse) and then post your next Happiness Archive (#6) in response.

Make sure to print out the two articles and bring them to class with you.

You do not have to bring in any pre-drafts of Essay #4 for tomorrow (though, of course, I encourage you to keep working on the drafts on your own). Since we agreed to push the readings back to Thursday, we did the pre-draft work together in class yesterday. Your next thing due with Essay #4 is the complete first draft, which is due this coming Tuesday (11/5).

See you tomorrow morning for Halloween! Treats & costumes welcome in class 🙂

Professor Belli

Reminder: Happiness Archive 4 due W 10/16 (+ Essay #3 extension/conferences)

I hope that you all enjoyed your day off this week (I’m having a fabulous time in Iceland … when I get back to NYC, I’ll post few photos of the amazing display of the Northern Lights that I saw on Monday night!).

Just a few quick reminders:

For our next class, you should post Happiness Archive 4. As we discussed in class, you should choose an advertisement (make sure to include it in your post, with appropriate citation/attribution) and then analyze it the vision of happiness/well-being it promotes (what does it promise customers if they buy its product?). This blog, like all others, is due the night before class, so in this case Wednesday, 10/16.

As we decided last week together, Essay #3 final draft is not due until this coming Tuesday (10/22). I gave you the extension so that you will have more time to revise your writing. We will hold a writing workshop in-class in class this Thursday and you have the option to come see me individually during my office hours to get additional feedback. Those of you who already submitted your final draft of Essay #3 to Dropbox should remove them and revise further (you can re-submit the updated versions before Tuesday), as you will need to re-think your essay in light of our upcoming in-class writing workshop and individual conferences.

I highly recommend these one-on-one conferences, and as I mentioned last week, I have time to meet this Thursday and Friday (10/17 & 10/18) afternoons. If you would like to schedule a conference to see me, you should schedule an appointment ASAP (but no later than Thursday before class).

Please remember that we are moving forward with ‘The Happiness Project’ reading for next week (you can find this reading in the “Readings” folder of our class Dropbox site, and you must print out the reading and bring it to class with you for Tuesday), and you have a blog due on the reading the night before class on Tuesday, 10/22. Your final draft of Essay #3 is due this day as well (due to the extension we agreed upon together), so make sure to plan ahead.

Thinking through ‘The Secret’ (class discussion)

In class this week, we raised many issues/questions regarding our reading (and viewing) of The Secret. Below is just a recap of a few:

  • How does the author (Rhonda Byrne) establish authority/expertise/ethos in the text? How does her use of personal narrative/experience (her personal history/transformation), historical personages/quotes, and so-called “experts” (contributing authors) inform the text/set up her vision of happiness?
  • How does she use pathos?
  • Logos?
  • Who is she offering her advice to, and why?
  • Did she create this “secret” on her own/out of nowhere, or did she find it somewhere else?
  • Is this vision realistic? Can individuals have “anything” they want? Is there a limit?
  • What is the role of effort/action (or what should it be) in The Secret’s methodology?
  • What does “thoughts become things” (or the “law of attraction”) mean in the context of Byrne’s self-help recipe?
  • Are individuals totally in control of their own destiny? What about larger socio-economic factors/structural issues?
  • Although Byrne attempts to democratize “success” by offering the recipe for it to anyone, is there a sense of implicit elitism in her vision?
  • If you get positive things by positive thinking, and you get negative things by negative thinking, then what kind of responsibility does this place (perhaps unfairly?) on individuals? Is this a kind of “blame-the-victim” ideology?
  • What happens when there are competing desires (one person wants something, but this conflicts with what someone else wants/desires)?
  • Why is this vision of success/happiness compelling/seductive to its readers?

In preparation for our upcoming Essay #3, we will continue to discuss these questions (and others, which you should raise!) here in this post. The goal, as it is with Essay #3 (and all of our “happiness archive” entries) is to use critical thinking and analysis to demonstrate how Byrne constructs a particular meaning and view of happiness in The Secret and to identify the (often hidden) values that inform such a vision.

So go ahead, dig deeper, and explore what visions of happiness/values lie beneath the surface of this self-help bestseller. Everyone should post at least one comment/reply here no later than Saturday (10/5), addressing some aspect of the text (you should point to a specific place in the text, providing a quote/page number), perhaps answering one or more of these questions above, posing other questions, referencing/linking us to places in real life where you see the “Secret” ideology at work (do certain advertisements promote versions of the “secret”? e.g., if you buy these products, you will be happy), relating personal views/experiences, responding to each other, etc.

But … as always, I encourage you to drop a comment more than once (maybe twice, maybe many many more times!). Remember that you can just present a quick idea, reply to someone else, say a sentence or two. And since you all enjoyed watching the Saturday Night Live sketch that parodies The Secret (and Oprah’s promotion of it) so much in class on Tuesday (here is a link to that sketch in case you want to watch it again … thanks Michael for finding it for us!) and since you all had such insightful critiques/comments on The Secret in response, here’s another one, for your viewing pleasure (hopefully, in addition to making you laugh, it will get you thinking about some more possible critiques/contradictions/complications of The Secret’s message). Happy watching 🙂

“The Blatantly Obvious” (a The Secret parody by 24 Calamity)

Reminder: Essay #2 Final Draft due this Thursday, 10/3

Hi everyone.

Just a friendly reminder that the final draft of Essay #2 is due before class begins on Thursday. We discussed your drafts/strategies for revision in class last Thursday, and I’ve met with some of you individually to discuss your work during my office hours. These brief meetings have been really productive/generative, and I’m happy to meet with others before Thursday if you’d like (but please e-mail me ASAP if you’d like to set up a time to meet).

It sounds as if many of you have not yet actually read the essay assignment that has been on our OpenLab course site, but it is essential that you read the Essay #2 Assignment carefully before revising/submitting your final draft. Also, make sure to review the Essay Formatting Guidelines and the Dropbox submission requirements (all of this contributes to your grade on the essay).

As you revise, keep in mind that your goal is to leave your readers with a clear, vivid sense of what some aspect of happiness means to you. This requires that you focus your discussion (you can’t discuss everything that makes you happy!), and beginning with an example/experience/story/memory/etc. that you then discuss/analyze is a productive strategy. Using this strategy, you first present a “text” (the example/experience/story/memory/etc.) and then you explain/analyze it for your readers (how/why it illustrates some aspect of happiness for/to you, what values it represents, what type of being it promotes, etc.).

Happy revising! I look forward to reading your final drafts 🙂

The Happiness Archive (happiness, human flourishing, visions of well-being, the good life, utopia)

The Happiness Archive (Sara Ahmed, The Promise of Happiness, 2010)

“I want to attend to how happiness is spoken, lived, practiced: happiness, for me, is what it does” (15).

In The Promise of Happiness, Sara Ahmed explores “a ‘happiness archive’: a set of ideas, thoughts, narratives, images, impressions about what is happiness” (15).

Over the course of this semester, we will contribute to this project of critically examining how “[H]appiness shapes what coheres as a world” (2).

This semester, you will blog often, contributing to the archive both by providing examples of “happiness” in the world in which you live. As Ahmed states, “[t]he media are saturated with images and stories of happiness” (3). Like Ahmed, you will “track the word happiness, asking what histories are evoked by the mobility of this word.”  You will “follow the word happiness around,”  ”notice what it is up to, where it goes, who or what it gets associated with” (14).

Don’t simply point out an example though.  Dig deeper, and analyze it by isolating “everyday habits of happiness and consider[ing] how such habits involve ways of thinking about the world that shape how the world coheres” (15).

Make sure to answer the “so what?” question by making claims about your examples.  Pursue “not only what makes happiness good but how happiness participates in making things good” (13).


The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society (Ruth Levitas, Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society, 2013)

“Utopia as method has three modes. The first is an archaeological mode, piecing together the images of the good society that are embedded in political programmes and social and economic policies. The second is an ontological mode which addresses the question of what kind of people particular societies develop and encourage. What is understood as human flourishing, what capabilities are valued, encouraged and genuinely enabled, or blocked and suppressed, by specific existing or potential social arrangements: we are concerned here with the historical and social determination of human nature. [. . .]. The third is an architectural mode – that is, the imagination of potential alternative scenarios for the future, acknowledging the assumptions about and consequences for the people who might inhabit them. These in turn must be subject to archaeological critique, addressing the silences and inconsistencies all such images much contain, as well as the political steps forward they imply.”

Strategies for Summarizing

We had some good conversation in class today about strategies for summarizing effectively. Thank you all for sharing your articles and writing with the class and for asking important questions.

Here are some of the things we discussed about summary (as well as a few new additions). Please take some time to review them over the next few days, and then, no later than Wednesday night (9/11), revise your own summary posts (with a reflection of what changes you made and why) and read through/comment on your classmates’ summary posts.

I also encourage you to continue the conversation by posting comments to this post (just hit “reply”) with further strategies (I’d love to hear your thoughts) and questions about summarizing. I’ll be checking in on this discussion over the next few days and am happy to continue this conversation online here to help you become more comfortable with the summarizing work we have done (and will continue to do) this semester.


-The length of the summary will vary depending on the length of the article you are summarizing, but in general, summaries for a short article should be one-two paragraphs that are each neither too undeveloped (e.g., 1-2 sentences) or too over-developed (e.g., 12-15 sentences).

-Since you only have a short space to convey the main points of the article, you should get right into the text’s thesis right away (remember, the thesis is not the general subject–such as technology–but a particular author’s argument about a particular topic or idea). While it may be useful/desirable in other types of writing (creative writing, more informal writing) to start with generalizations and/or questions in order to engage your reader or ease into the topic, in a summary paragraph you want to immediately and clearly state the author and title of the text and the text’s thesis. Doing so in the first sentence of your summary will help you to focus your attention on the task at hand: summarizing the text’s ideas (not bringing in your own ideas and opinions). Remember, a large part of writing effectively and successfully is to consider your purpose and your audience. In this case, your purpose is to convey information, in as straightforward a manner as possible, to readers about the content of a text (what the text says). You are not asked to respond to that content, or evaluate it. You don’t have to worry about grabbing your reader’s attention. Your primary goal is to summarize a text.

-You should only include discussion of the main point (thesis) and essential supporting points of the text. You will not be able to mention every detail or example the author uses. Use active reading to help you identify key words, identify the author’s claims, and locate important supporting points.

Summaries should be concise, which means to-the-point. You only have a short space to convey a lot of information (a pretty difficult task!), so every word you write is precious. If a word or sentence doesn’t help to summarize the text’s main points, then it doesn’t have a place in your summary. Instead of spending time repeating ideas, discussing something generally, or beating around the bush, be direct and clear. State the author’s main ideas and stay grounded in the particulars of the text itself.

-Summaries should be written in the third person (she, he, it, her, him, its, they, them, their), not the first person (I, we, my, our, us, me) or second person (you, yours, yours).

You should not include your own experiences, opinions, ideas, interpretation, analysis, bias, etc. You are not writing a subjective response or giving your point of view/response to the text. Remember that, when writing a summary of a text, your task is to concisely and accurately state the text’s thesis and supporting points. Therefore, your focus should be on an objective discussion of the main ideas of the text you read. Writing in the third person will help you to maintain this objective stance.

-In your summary (and all essays), write about the text in the present tense. Even though the author wrote the article in the past, you still discuss it, always, in the present tense. Some examples are: writes, states, claims, argues, examines, discusses.

You may use quotations from the text, but these quotes should be used sparingly, be short, and be relevant to the point you are discussing. Remember if you use the exact words from the text, you must indicate this by using quotation marks (” “) around the word and to provide a citation for that quote. We’ll discuss citation in greater detail this semester, but for now, remember that we using MLA (Modern Language Association) style. For MLA citations, simply provide the page number in parentheses after the quote. E.g., “sacrificed conversation for mere connection” (1).

(When you are discussing more than one text, you will also need to include the author’s last name in the parenthesis, but for this summary, which only is on one article, you can simply provide the page number.)

As always, I’m happy to discuss summarizing with you in more detail during my office hours (we can look at your summaries then together as well). Please feel free to schedule an appointment to see me for when I return from my conference if you’d like some individualized feedback on your writing.