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.

Office Hours
If you need to see me for anything, my last days of office hours until the Fall 2014 semester are Tu 5/20 (5-6pm) and Th 5/22 (11am-12pm).

Final Exam
As you know, your final exam will consist of reading a short article and then crafting an essay in response. The final exam (writing a response essay to the article) will take place in class on Tuesday, 5/20. You will have 75 minutes (1/2 of our class period) to complete the essay.

You have the exam article already, so you should read and re-read it many times, looking up words you don’t know, highlighting important sections, summarizing it, and reverse outlining it for the main ideas (both content/purpose) of each paragraph. Please take advantage of the fact that you have the reading ahead of time, and prepare as much as possible. Don’t forget to bring back the article (with your notes on it) to class on Tuesday.

I also encourage you, if you have not done so already, to do the practice exams I gave you. Remember, for the response essay, while you should use your own experience (you can use 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 (critical reading, summarizing, reverse outlining, creating an Introduction, developing a thesis statement, paragraph development, creating strong topic sentences, analysis, incorporating/citing sources, providing claims/evidence) apply here, so you should be be well-prepared for this exam.

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

Make sure to arrive to class on Tuesday, as we will begin the exams promptly at the start of class and will end exactly 75 minutes later (then we will finish up remaining Research Project presentations). If you arrive late, you will not be given extra time to complete the exam.

Final Course Reflections
Your Individual Final Course Reflection is due in class on Th 5/22 (this is a mandatory–not optional–assignment). Please visit the Final Course Reflection page on our site for more details on this assignment.

Final Course Grades
The deadline for professors to submit final course grades for the Spring 2014 semester is Tu 5/27. Please wait to view your 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 your final exam grade (you have all of your other grades already).

Final grades are non-negotiable, though I am always more than happy to discuss them/your work with you at any point in person. 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 August.

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 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 digital/networked identities/relationships, and reading, writing, and critical thinking. Have a wonderful summer 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 🙂

Reminder: Research Projects due tomorrow

Just a friendly reminder that all parts of your research project are due tomorrow, Tu 5/13, and that you should:

  • Bring to class a folder with the final draft of your Research Proposal/Annotated Bibliography (along with all previous drafts/peer review comments/my feedback) & your Research Project Reflection)
  • E-mail me three files before class begins: 1) final draft of Research Proposal/Annotated Bibliography (as one file, proposal on first page, annotated bibliography after that); 2) your Research Project reflection; 3) your Presentation file. You can attach all of them in one e-mail, but they should be three separate files, each clearly/correctly labeled. If you do not submit them before class tomorrow, you will receive no credit for your work (late e-mails/files will not be accepted).
  • Come to class early to load your presentation onto the classroom computer, and be ready to start presentations promptly at 2:30pm.


I strongly suggest that you review the guidelines/expectations/formatting for the various parts of the Research Project before you submit.

We will also be celebrating the end of the semester, so please feel free to bring in snacks to share with the class and we can enjoy refreshments during the presentations (I will bring in some goodies as well). Looking forward to your presentations tomorrow 🙂

Student Drop-In Help at the Library

Please take note of this wonderful opportunity to get additional help on your research project from the library. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this as you work on finalizing your research proposals/annotated bibliographies and research presentations (both due next class, Tu 5/13). Some of you still need to do a lot of work focusing your topics, locating additional research, and synthesizing your findings into an argument.

Beginning this week the City Tech Library will offer drop-in help to students in any course who are working on research assignments. While the library always helps students with research at the Reference Desk, these drop-in hours will be held in a library classroom and will let librarians work in more depth with each student.

Students can bring their assignment and speak with a librarian to:


Drop-in hours are available in room A441 in the library (on the 4th Floor of the Atrium) at these dates and times:

•    Wednesday May 7, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
•    Thursday May 8, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
•    Monday May 12, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
•    Tuesday May 13, 12:30 – 2:30 pm
•    Wednesday May 14, 4:00 – 6:00 pm
•    Thursday May 15, 12:30 – 2:30 pm

Reminder: Revisions of Research Project due Tu 4/29

Hi everyone:I hope that you enjoyed your spring break, and that your research projects are going well.

For our next class on Tuesday, please bring your printed sources (articles, books, etc.) as well as a laptop/tablet if you have access to one.

I’ve read through/provided comments (as a “reply” to your posts) on all work submitted this week. As it states on the Schedule, you should do a revision of your research proposal (now, your 3rd draft, if you have done all of the assignments) and a six source annotated bibliography (a revision/extension of the work you did over the break).

Keep in mind that you are not writing an essay/paper, but a fully revised research proposal/annotated bibliography according to the guidelines/expectations provided for this Research Project. Make sure to follow the guidelines and to use my feedback on your various drafts as you revise. (Some of you didn’t turn in drafts, or didn’t included annotations with your sources, so I wasn’t able to provide feedback: it is very important going forward that you submit the entire assignment so you can get helpful/substantive feedback on it from me and your peers). Also, remember that, while you only have to submit a six-source annotated bibliography, you need to consult/read/consider many more sources in order to become an “expert” in your topic.

This next draft is due Tuesday (4/29) by the start of class: bring four printed copies to class and e-mail it to me (as one file, clearly labeled) before class begins. You do not have to post this next draft to OpenLab.

In class we will peer review/workshop these drafts, and move towards your final drafts which are due the following week. We will also discuss how to give effective presentations, as you will presenting your research projects/findings/arguments to the class on 5/8 and 5/15.

See you soon!

Professor Belli

This Week: Two City Tech Literature Events (with Extra Credit Opportunities)!

As we discussed in class, there are two exciting events happening this week. I’ll be at both of them, and I hope to see many of you there!

I strongly encourage you to attend either (or both!) of these events, & to blog on our OpenLab site about them (you will get extra credit for your participation/response!):

1. Wednesday, 4/9, 11:30am-12:45pm, Namm 119, Literature Roundtable

The Spring 2014 Literature Roundtable is on Lynn Nottage’s play, Intimate Apparel. This event (sponsored by the English Department in conjunction with the African American Studies Department) includes student performers from AFR 1321: Black Theater, ENG 1121: English Composition II, and a conversation and discussion on Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel with Professor Jeannine Foster-McKelvia (African American Studies Adjunct Instructor) and Dr. Marta Effinger-Crichlow (Chair of African American Studies).

If you attend the event and blog in response (W 4/16), you will receive extra credit (it will replace a missing blog if you missed some blogs, and it will count as extra credit if already you did all of your blogs).

You can also read the play (it is short) for free, as an eBook, though the City Tech Library Website. If you read the play and blog in response, you can earn additional extra credit.


2. Thursday, 4/10, 5:30-7:30pm, 240 Jay Street (Midway Auditorium), Literary Arts Festival

This year is the 33rd annual Literary Arts Festival, and will feature guest speaker Cornelius Eady. The Festival is a long standing tradition that celebrates student writing and features a special guest author, along with student performances. This is an event to see and be seen.

***To keep up with the latest about the event and learn more, join the Festival OpenLab Project, and keep up with festival news via the Festival OpenLab site and by following @CityTechLitFest on Twitter.

If you attend the event and blog in response (Th 4/17), you will receive extra credit (it will replace a missing blog if you missed some blogs, and it will count as extra credit if already you did all of your blogs).


*There are only two grades for these extra credit blogs (100 and 0). If you attend the events and blog your responses/reflections completely (in terms of length and content) and thoughtfully, you will receive 100% (an “A”) for the assignment. If you do not turn in the assignment (or if it is too short/not fulfilling the purposes of the assignment), you will receive a “0.” Don’t forget to take notes at the events, so you can include concrete details from the events in your blogs.

HW/Announcements: Essay #2, Research Proposals, Conferences with Professor Belli, Extra Credit

1. Essay #2 Final Draft is due next Tu (4/8) by the start of class. E-mail files and bring portfolio folders (including pre-drafts with peer review comments, first drafts with peer review comments, first drafts with my comments, your freewriting about next-steps for revisions from 4/1, and your final draft with fully updated Cover Letter).

2. Blog your first draft of your research proposal (categorize as “Research Proposals”) no later than Monday night (4/7). Next Tuesday we will discuss research, finding/evaluating sources, and have our library session for the 2nd 1/2 of class.

3. I am holding mandatory conferences this week, to discuss Essay #2 drafts and your midterm grades. The schedule is here. If you were absent, make sure you reply to that post (by leaving a comment) ASAP with when you will come in to see me this week.

4. As we discussed in class, there are two exciting events happening next week at the college: the Literary Roundtable (W 4/9) and the Literary Arts Festival (Th 4/10). I encourage you to attend either (or both!) of these events, and if you attend/blog in response to the event, you will receive extra credit. You can find out more details about the events (and the extra credit) here.


Mandatory Conferences with Professor Belli (week of 4/1)

As we discussed in class today, this week I will be meeting with each of you, individually, to discuss your Essay #2 drafts (if you submitted one) and your midterm grades (this lets you know how you are doing–passing, borderline, not passing, stopped attending–midway through the semester).

If you absent and did not sign up for time slot, please do so by replying to this post ASAP with a comment for the date/time you want to come in (see below). Please only sign up for a spot that you are 100% sure you can make (and make note of the time/date you are coming).

  • These conferences are mandatory: make sure you come at your scheduled time.
  • Each slot is only 15 minutes long.
  • Arrive a few minutes early (and be prepared to stay a few minutes late, in case we are running behind schedule).
  • Bring all of your work for Essay #2 (and Essay #1, with my comments/grade) with you to the meeting. I encourage you to revise your essay (at the very least your Introduction, but preferably your whole essay) before we meet (based on our in-class workshops/peer review) and show me this updated version.
  • All meetings are in my office, Namm 520.


Tuesday, 4/1 (from 5:15-6pm)

  • 5:15pm: Mildred
  • 5:30pm: Barrie

Wednesday, 4/2 (from 1-5pm)

  • 1pm: Evelyn
  • 2:30pm: Mariama
  • 4pm: Luciano
  • 4:15pm: Yang

Thursday, 4/3 (from 11:15am-12:15pm + 2:45-6pm)

  • 11:15am: Sal
  • 11:30am: Mylyisyaa
  • 12pm: Samar

Friday, 4/4 (from 3-6pm)

  • 3pm: Julie
  • 3:15pm: Fahmida

Reminder of HW for Tuesday’s class (3/25)

Thanks to Sal for posting last week’s class notes (on Part 3 of feed) and to Mylisyaa for posting class notes from the week before (on Parts 1& 2).

Tomorrow we will continue our discussion of feed as well as our work on creating effective arguments and analysis. Just a friendly reminder that you should do the following in preparation for tomorrow’s class:

  • Finish feed and blog in response to Part 4 no later to tonight (thank you to those of you who already posted on this final section of the novel).
  • By the start of tomorrow’s class, you also need to complete your Essay #2 Pre-Drafts (thesis paragraph/Introduction + 3 claims/topic sentences + 6 pieces of supporting evidence–quotes + citations) on feed. Post it to the blog and bring four printed copies to class. Don’t wait until the last minute to print your papers: you should NOT show up late to class because you are still trying to print.
  • Each group was supposed to have posted their notes (thesis/claims/evidence) from class group work last week by last Wednesday. Thank you to Kimberly/Julie/Mildred/Yang Yang & Sal/Luciano/Pat for doing so on time. The other three groups should post their notes immediately (make sure you list your topic and all of your group members’ names).

I know many of you have strong reactions to how things play out at the end of the novel … I look forward to a great discussion tomorrow about the reading 🙂

*Reminder: HW for Tu 3/11

1. Read Parts 1 & 2 of feed and blog in response (don’t forget to think through the text in relation the Utopian & Dystopian Framework that I handed out in class). We will be spending all of class on Tuesday discussing the first parts of the novel, and you should come in prepared for this discussion, and for freewriting and a quiz on the assigned reading.

2. Essay #1 Final Drafts are due (portfolio folder & e-mailed file) by the start of class. Make sure to review the Essay #1 Assignment and the Essay Guidelines (for formatting, electronic submission) before submitting your final draft. You can also find the Peer Review Assignment (that we did in class last week) on our site, if you want to use it to revise your new drafts.

Keep in mind:

  • The key to strong/successful essay is to move from summary to analysis/critical thinking/argument. Instead of merely summarizing Turkle, Marche, or Catfish, you should put some text (either the movie Catfish, or a concrete/specific personal experience) in conversation with the Marche or Turkle readings. To do this, you will need to provide specific quotes from Marche or Turkle (that illustrate the concepts from them you are using). Then, your essay should help your readers to understand these texts (the documentary or your experience) through the lens/theoretical framework that Marche/Turkle provides. For example, you way to provide an analysis of how Angela, in Catfish, “curates” her identity. Or, you may want to look at how, in your own experience, people use social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to form superficial connections. The key, in either case, is to provide specific, concrete details (rather than a very general discussion) and a focused analysis.
  • Your Introduction (thesis paragraph) should provide an overview of your argument in the essay (your thesis statement should be the final sentence of this first paragraph).
  • You should include a complete, fully revised Cover Letter as the first page of your Essay.

‘Catfish’ response (due M 2/24)

For this week’s homework, please post your response to the documentary we watched in class today, Catfish (categorize it as Catfish). [You can learn more about the film by clicking “Enter Nev’s World” and chat with Megan, see his photos, etc.]

Just like the articles, this film is a “text” that you have to read closely/critically and that you need to annotated. For your response post, you should think about this film in relation to the other texts we have read this semester (especially Turkle’s “The Flight from Conversation” and Marche’s “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” … you should quote/cite them) as well as our in-class conversations about how/why the individual self, connections/relationships with others (and the world), communication, privacy, authenticity, intimacy, trust (etc.) are altered in digital, networked spaces. What do we gain from these spaces? What do we lose?

In thinking through these issues, you should consider our in-class discussion from today and also the questions we raised at the end of class after watching the film. Some things to think through as you work on composing your response:

  • The various “voices” in this documentary, and how they all participate in “storytelling” (the stories we tell, about our lives and our worlds, to ourselves, and to others) of some sort: there are the actual “characters” in the film (Nev and the two filmmakers, Ariel and Henry), Angela and her family (Vince, Abby), “Megan,” and all the other characters that Angela constructs with her “great imagination.” Consider “Megan’s” txts, phone calls, and messages to Nev, the conversations that happen on everyone’s Facebook walls (where various people comment and participate in the construction of this great lie). A particularly complicated/fraught moment is when Nev gets “txts” from Megan telling the “truth” that Megan is an alcoholic, and then Ryan sends him a “Facebook message” confirming this, and Angela validates the story in “real” life (which then turns out to be false).
  • How does “Angela” “curat[e] the exhibition of the self” (Marche 9) as well as the multiple selves she creates, through Facebook, phone conversations, “snail mail” with the packages of the artwork that “Abby” did, and the “postcard” (with the “pennies” that Nev makes)?
  • How do Nev & crew track down the “real” story, the “truth” (through using Google, GoogleMaps, a call to a real-estate agent, in-person visits, interviews, etc.)?
  • Is there one “real truth” here (or in life, in general)? What are the competing versions of the truths/selves in this documentary? What pieces of evidence (and by whom? how? why?) to support these competing versions?
  • What kinds of things in Nev’s relationships with Angela and her “family” established his “trust” in them and these characters’ “authenticity”? Nev mentions that he is “gullible,” but then later says he was not “fooled’.
  • In the car, driving back from fake Megan’s fake house, Nev states his feelings for her was “genuine” (“I really cared about this girl … now, I don’t even know what to feel”). Can he have genuine feelings even the situations/people were fake (or non-existent)?
  • What is the interplay of real-world identities and digital/virtual identities? Consider how we learn at the end of the film that even in her “real” face-to-face (F2F) life, Angela lies, about all sorts of things (like her cancer/chemotherapy, about Megan, etc.). Discuss the complex nature of her multi-layered “fabrication.”
  • Turkle claims that technology “change[s] not only what we do, but also who we are” (1), that with it, “we can end up hiding from one another” (1).” Vince talks about needing to figure out which life one wants to live, and while he says Angela chose to be with him and the kids, and that she wants “security,” Angela still goes about creating this vast imaginary world, which she says contains “fragments of myself” “fragments of things I used to be, wanted to be, never could be.” If these lies are things Angela believes she could be or wishes she is, are they, in some counter-intuitive, paradoxical way, “authentic”?
  • Angela says she was able to keep track of most things in her stories because of the Facebook platform, which is endlessly customizable. Technology “let[s] us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body” (Turkle 2). Marche also discusses our “projected identities” (6) and “the constancy of the performance it demands” (9). Who is the “real” Angela?
  • Angela says, towards the end, that she “betrayed” the family friend who is the girl in the pictures. What about the “real lives” of these people, all the ones that she embellished/exploited for her own purposes? What happens to “privacy” and “ownership”?
  • Turkle claims that, with technology, we can keep people “carefully kept at bay” (2). How does Nev’s visit and the convergence of real/virtual worlds challenge this dichotomy? Does this display the “mess of human interaction” (8) that Marche mentions?
  • Turkle claims we confuse “conversation with connection” (3). Nev ultimately asks Angela for a “real talk” “sit-down conversation to sort of go over a couple things and clear some stuff up.” Is he attempting to establish real “conversation at this point? If so, does he succeed?
  • Marche states how technology sometimes encourages “ersatz intimacy” and situations that are “surrogate” (7). And yet Nev characterizes his relationship with Angela as an “amazing correspondence,” a “real friendship.” What do we make of this?
  • Marche claims that technology can lead to a “leaching of empathy and humanity” (8), and Turkle even goes as far as to say that “we seem almost willing to dispense with people altogether” (3). Yet Marche argues that we are becoming lonelier and lonelier. Did Angela act out of loneliness?
  • What does Vince’s story about the “vat full of codfish” at the end of the documentary mean, about “catfish,” about “Angela”?