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 discussed in class, your final exam will take place in-class on Thursday, 5/22. The final exam is on We, and will include a variety of questions, including short essays (for which you will need to provide speaker of/context for & close reading of specific excepts, and also analysis/claims/evidence in terms of how those excerpts function in the larger novel). I strongly encourage you to review the book, your notes from our in-class discussions of the text, all students’ (and class discussion) blog posts on the different sections on OpenLab, and post any last minute questions OpenLab.

The final exam is worth 15% of your overall course grade.

Please remember to arrive to class on time on Th 5/22, as we will begin the exam 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.

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 incredibly hard this semester, and I really appreciate your consistent effort and good cheer day in and day out (especially for an 8:30am class!). I hope you enjoyed yourselves and learned a lot about utopias/dystopias, reading fiction, critical thinking, and writing. 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  🙂

Two extra credit opportunities (movie versions of ‘Brave New World’)

As we discussed last class, I am offering two extra credit blogs based on two different movie versions of Brave New World (please categorize appropriately). For each blog, you should provide a response based on a comparative analysis of the novel and the film (this response can also include your thoughts on/opinions of/reactions to the film). Remember, your goal is not to simply list your observations (for example: these are the things than are different in the film) but to critically analyze these differences (how do omitted/added/revised characters, plot details, conflicts, etc. change our understanding of the text?).

Here are links to the two versions of the film:

*Blogs are due W night (5/14), & there are only two grades for these extra credit blogs (100 and 0). If you watch the films & 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 during the films, so you can include concrete details from the events in your blogs.

Reminder: Post Questions about ‘We’ & Essay #2 drafts

Hi everyone:

I’ve enjoyed discussing your essays with you individually this past week, and you all are making a lot of progress in your writing (both in terms of content and structure). I look forward to seeing the next drafts tomorrow.

Just a reminder that your complete with Cover Letter, fully revised (based on our individual conferences this past week) draft of Essay #2 is due tomorrow. You must e-mail me the correctly labeled file (your name, Essay #2, Second Draft) before class begins and bring four printed copies of your essay to class.

Please do not show up without your printed copies, and do not be late to class. We have a jam-packed class tomorrow, and we’ll need all the time we have to cover both the novel and the essay.

Also, many of you have been letting me know (in private) that you have many questions about We and that there are whole sections of it that you have been struggling with, but so far no one (except Brian … thank you to him!) has posted any questions on the post I made last week.

Please make sure to do so (by leaving a “comment” on that post) by the end of the day today (W 4/30), and we will be sure to cover all of your questions about the text tomorrow in class. I am going to explain a lot of the text, in detail, tomorrow, but in order to use this time most productively, each one of you should post at least one (but ideally a few) question you have/excerpts (with page numbers) you want to discuss.

See you tomorrow, in (cold, rainy) May!

Professor Belli

Class Discussion: Lingering Questions/Confusions/Ideas about ‘We’

Please use this as a place to post any lingering questions/confusions/ideas about We. Since are giving ourselves another week of class to discuss the text (and to draft/revise Essay #2), and since we of course can’t possibly discuss everything about the novel, we will prioritize what are will talk about next week using your replies to this post.

Drop a comment here to put items on our “agenda” (for our next class, Th 5/1) to discuss. List particular scenes, events, passages, excepts (please include page numbers) that confuse you, or questions more generally. If there is something you don’t quite understand about the text (and I know a number of you are having some difficulty, as this is a challenging novel), now is your chance to tell me/us about it, and to have the opportunity to go over it in class.

*Reminder: HW for Thursday’s Class (4/24)

Hi everyone:

I hope that you are enjoying the last little bit of Spring Break. Just a reminder that we meet this Thursday, 4/24. For that class, you should do the following:

1. Finishing reading We (Entries 27-40) and blog in response.

2. Essay #2 Pre-Draft. There is not word limit for this pre-draft, as long as you have all of the required pieces: full Introduction paragraph, 3 claims (topic sentences for three body paragraphs), three pieces of evidence (in support of those claims) with citations. Post your pre-draft to OpenLab (categorized as “Essay #2 Pre-Draft”) and bring 4 printed copies to class.

You can always check what is due (and how) on our course Schedule.

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.

Crowdsourcing D-503’s Transformation As Writer, Thinker, Individual

As part of our reading of We, we are exploring the un/reliability of the narrator/narrative, the conflation of fact/fiction, the revision of memories, the reconstruction of experience, the ways in which storytellers attempt to portray their own, individual, personal truths (which may not be the same as the “objective” truth or the dominant view of the State). As a dystopian novel explicitly written in the form of a journal, We is a rich text for performing a close reading around these “self-conscious” moments in the narrative.

I am particularly interested in us tracing how, through the act of writing itself, D-503 moves from merely recording the values of the One State that he has already internalized, to developing an individual, rebellious, free-thinking understanding about the world and his place in it. Consider the journal entry titles and headings, D-503’s comments on why he is writing/who he is writing for (and how/why this changes), conflicts, competing sets of values, etc.

In preparation for Thursday’s class (4/10), everyone should post at least two comments (one for the reading, Entries 1-16, from Th 4/3, due by Su 4/6; one for the reading for Th 4/10, Entries 17-26, due W 4/9) as a reply to this post (though I encourage many more) that provides places where D-503 explicitly draws attention (in a meta-fiction way) to the fact that he is carefully/consciously constructing a narrative and controlling his reader’s reception of the text. Your comment (reply) can be just a few sentences: provide the quote/citation and a quick explanation of how/why it functions. Feel free to post multiple comments, and also to respond to others. If you’ve already discussed some of these instances in your previous blogs, you should feel free to draw on that material.

We’ll add to these comments with the final section of the book we’ll read during spring break, until we have a class-generated archive of all of these instances in the text.

Reminder: Essay #1and Midterm Exam tomorrow (Th 3/27)

Hello from my utopia conference in London!

Just a few quick reminders:

  • Tomorrow, Thursday, 3/27, is your midterm exam. You will not be able to use any notes or texts (either the short stories or novel) for the exam, so no need to bring them with you. As we discussed, to prepare for the exam you should review our class notes on utopia (as a genre), the elements of fiction, the short stories we read (“The Story of an Hour,” “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” “The Day Before the Revolution,” and “The Machine Stops”), and Brave New World. I also suggest reading through all of your/your classmates’ blog posts as well as our class discussions (the “comments”) on the short stories, reviewing the Utopian/Dystopian Framework, and looking over your freewriting (which has been available for the past week in my mailbox, N512).
  • Essay #1 is due at the beginning of class tomorrow. Make sure you review the assignment and the formatting/submission guidelines before you submit it (and don’t forget about the Cover Letter … I will not accept essays without it). Include a Work Cited page. Make sure that you e-mail me a correctly labeled Word file (just one file, with the Cover Letter as the first page … not two separate files) before class begins (anything after 8:30am is considered late and will receive no credit), and bring a printed/stapled copy to class (Professor Corbett, who is subbing for me, will collect these essays at the class).
  • We are moving forward with We next week (Entries 1-16, pp. 1-91), and you have a reading response blog due Monday night in preparation for next Thursday’s class (4/3).

Good luck finishing up your essays and taking your exam! See you all next week 🙂

Professor Belli

*Pick up your freewriting in my mailbox (N512)

Hi everyone:

As I mentioned in class, I had all of your freewriting to hand back to you so you could use it as you review for the midterm and write your essay on Brave New World, but in the midst of everything, I forgot to hand it back … 🙁

Therefore, I put it in my mailbox in the main English Department (N512), which is open M-F, 9am-1pm & 2-5pm. Please stop by as soon as possible to pick up your writing, as it will be helpful to you this coming week. There are four sets of freewriting, from four different classes (each set has a paperclip) in a folder. Each set of freewriting is alphabetized (by student last name), so you should be easily able to find your writing in each set. If you don’t have writing from a particular date, it means you were absent that day (or so late you missed the writing at the beginning of class).

Happy studying & writing, and have a lovely weekend 🙂

Cheers,Professor Belli

Class Discussion: “The Day Before the Revolution”

Just a reminder that you should make your at least one comment (just hit “reply,” either to my original post or to another comment on it) by Sunday (3/16).

Then go back/read through all comments and extend the conversation by making at least two more comments (of course, more are always welcome!) in response by Tuesday (3/18). 

The goal is to have some good virtual discussions here to help you think critically about this short story. Therefore, your comments need not be very long: for example, you can provide a quote/citation and a few sentences of explanation of how/why it functions in the context of some larger issue/question (or you can raise questions, complicate issues, extend discussions, analyze a character, or setting, etc.).