Wrapping Up The Semester

Tomorrow is our final class! A few things to keep in mind as we wrap up this semester:

Final Project Presentations (Part II) & End-of-the-Semester Party (yay!)
Tomorrow during class we’ll have presentations from those who did not go on 5/14. Looking forward to hearing your research projects :) The list of presenters (in no particular order) is:

  • Chris
  • Andrew
  • Eugene
  • Randy
  • Joel
  • Surge
  • Karl

We will also be celebrating the end of the semester, so I encourage you 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). If you plan to bring in snacks, please leave a “reply” to this post letting us know what you will bring, so we have a good mix of refreshment (things like cups, paper plates, and napkins are also important items to bring).

Course Reflections
Your Individual Final Course Reflection is due in class on Th 5/21 (this is a mandatory–not optional–assignment). Please visit the Final Course Reflection page on our site for more details on this assignment.

Project #2 Grades / Final Course Grades

The deadline for professors to submit final course grades for the Spring 2015 semester is Tu 5/26 at midnight. Please wait to view your course grade online through CUNYfirst (I will not be giving out final course grades via e-mail).

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 Project #2 (project grades will be posted as a “private” comment to your Project #2 posts), you should e-mail me to (we can always also schedule an appointment to discuss your work in-person when we return to campus in August when the new academic year starts up).

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 each week (especially for a 2 1/2 hour class in a hot noisy classroom on the 10th floor!). I hope you enjoyed yourselves and learned a lot about science fiction and critical thinking / reading / writing / reflection. Have a wonderful summer break, & don’t hesitate to be in touch /stop by my office in future semesters to discuss your work in this course/beyond (or chat science fiction in general!), and/or to just say hi  :)

Reminder: Project #2 Final Drafts due tomorrow (5/14)

Hi everyone:

Just a friendly reminder that the final (graded) drafts of Project #2 are due tomorrow, in the form of an individual post with the abstract as full text, and then three associated files uploaded to the post. Please refer to the Project #2 assignment for submission requirements, and do email me if you have any questions. I also strongly encourage you to review all the separate pages for Project #2 on the different components of the project (and the various class notes discussing project expectations / requirements), before submitting everything.

Material not posted by 2:30pm tomorrow (Th 5/14) will receive no credit. All posts and files are timestamped automatically on OpenLab.

Tomorrow, as you know, we’ll meet at the bookstore and after our tour, have our presentations there. Since you will be uploaded everything to OpenLab before class (each of you is making a post, with your abstract, and all of your files), we’ll have ready through our OpenLab site. Do bring a back-up (on a flashdrive, or in your email) just in case … always a good idea 🙂

Again, these are the people who volunteered to give their presentations tomorrow (in no particular order):

  • Leo
  • Donovan
  • Aaron
  • Jonathan
  • John
  • Danny
  • Zac
Also, we will be having end-of-the-semester celebrations tomorrow (and next Thursday), and the bookstore generously said we could bring in refreshments as long as we are neat and clean up after ourselves (yay!). I will bring in some goodies for the class, and I encourage you to do the same (you should bring enough for 18 people). You can leave a “comment” at the bottom of this post stating what you will bring in (drinks, chips, cookies, etc. … things like paper plates, napkins, cups are good too!), so we don’t overlap too much with what we chose to bring. You don’t “have” to bring anything, but it would be nice if everyone could bring something for either tomorrow or next Thursday’s class.
See you soon!
Professor Belli

Tomorrow’s Class (Th 5/14) Held at SF Bookstore in Vinegar Hill!

Hi everyone:

As we discussed last week, we will be holding class tomorrow, Th 5/14, at Singularity & Co. (a vintage SciFi, Fantasy & Fantasy bookstore). The bookstore is in Vinegar Hill. You can see a map and get directions here.

We’ll meet inside the bookstore at the start of class (do not come to our regular classroom: go straight to the bookstore). Please arrive no later than 2:30pm: it is ~15 walk from the Namm building (closer to Voorhees & the York Street F station), so plan accordingly. We will begin class with a brief tour / overview from one of the bookstore staff, and then move into our presentations (we’ll hold the entire class period there, so plan to be there until 5pm).

Each of you should drop a quick comment to this post to let me know that you saw this message / will arrive at the bookstore by 2:30pm. If anyone wants to arrange walking over with classmates or me (from campus), mention that in your comment, and we can coordinate.

Looking forward to checking out this store together with you tomorrow, and to hearing about your research projects 🙂

Professor Belli

Happy Things & Spring Break!

Hi folks:

Karl's snacks!Today we took our midterm … thanks to Karl for being so generous by bringing in tons of snacks to keep everyone’s energy up!

We decided last week this is a good “tradition” to institute, so others should feel fee to bring communal snacks to class in the future. Yum.

Also, as we noted, four other happy things (some including extra credit & extensions … woohoo!) happened today in class … yippee 🙂

A reminder that we’re moving forward with our next novel, Woman on the Edge of Time, which we’ll be discussing over the next month or so. Please check the Schedule for blog response posts (and comments/People’s Choice votes) due dates between now and when we next meet as a class on Th 4/16.

You all have your mid-semester grades back, and anyone who needs to come see me to discuss his work/progress/status in the course & who couldn’t make it to today’s office hours should do so prior to the withdrawal deadline, which is Th 4/16 (which happens to be the next time we meet, so do plan ahead and e-mail me to set up something before our next class).

Most importantly, have wonderful/restful/relaxing/recharging/productive Spring Breaks, and see you all in a few weeks 🙂

Professors Belli

Project #1 Final Drafts: Revision Reminders

Hi everyone:

Just a reminder that your final draft of Project #1 is due at the start of class (2:30pm) this Thursday, 3/26, & that you must submit it two ways:

  1. Bring a printed/stapled copy to class, in a folder along with first draft, peer review comments, my comments–if applicable
  2. E-mailed the correctly labeled file (complete with Cover Letter & Work(s) Cited) to me.

Your final draft should be fully revised, and that you should include a reflective (also fully revised) Cover Letter. Essays will not be accepted without this complete Cover Letter.

Also, essays not submitted both ways by 2:30pm Th 3/26 will be given no credit.

I know that you didn’t all get to finish all of the Peer Review Assignment/discussions in class last week, & that’s fine; the goal is to get you thinking about the revision process holistically, and to understand the different components (argument, structure, etc.) that go into creating an effective thesis-driven essay. I strongly encourage everyone to complete a Peer Review on themselves before turning in a final draft (especially the reverse outlining part, in Section 2). If you need another copy of the Peer Review Assignment, you can download it here.

I also strongly encourage everyone to review the Project #1 Assignment requirements/expectations, before submitting your final draft. You may also want to review the handouts/Writing Resources I shared last week.

I’ve met individually with everyone who requested a conference to discuss their drafts/strategies for revision, and we had really productive meetings. As you revise, you should pay particular attention to:

  • The focus/sophistication/clarify/persuasiveness of your argument (both in your opening paragraph and in its development throughout the body of the essay).
  • The quality and incorporation of textual evidence (using a mix of summary, paraphrase, quotations, signal phrases, introducing/contextualizing this textual evidence)
  • Correct/complete citations (both in-text and Work(s) Cited)
  • Sentence-level issues, including proofreading. Nobody should be turning in a final draft with any typos or other similar errors in it. You should revise your draft thoroughly, including reading it out loud to catch any mistakes.

Here are some more helpful thoughts about revising:

  • Your thesis should be the final sentence of your first paragraph, but you should spend the entire Introduction developing/working up to this final claim (think of it as a “thesis-paragraph,” rather than a thesis “sentence”). Make sure that your Introduction (thesis paragraph) provides an outline (a road map) of your essay/argument. Introduce/define any central key terms/concepts here as well. This first paragraph – the thesis paragraph is key: don’t start with generalities about technology or machines (etc.) or a basic summary of your broad topic or text(s). The purpose of this paragraph is to introduce readers to your focused/specific argument in relation to one or two texts. So, here, you should provide only the specific information readers will need to understand your argument in this essay.
  • Everyone needs to think about your readers’ expectations. You should assume they have read but not thought carefully about the texts. You need to provide information to guide them through the presentation/discussion/analysis of your argument (don’t just jump right into the middle of things). What information do your readers need, in what order, to understand and be convinced of your thesis?
  • Use your topic sentences to lead with your claims (and their significance) instead of just listing a detail/fact from a source. You don’t want your essay to stay in the same place (horizontal); instead you want it to grow and build with each new paragraph. It is crucial that you use transitions, reflect on the links between your various sentences, ideas, sources (etc.), and then connect the dots for your readers (don’t leave them guessing). You need to bring something new to your topic (not just re-presenting back facts/observations from the text/s). I know that this can seem like a daunting task for an essay, but remember that synthesizing/integrating all of the information you have found and weaving it together is already a work of intellectual effort (which involves analysis, evaluation, narrative/story-telling, etc.). You want to provide argument and analysis, not merely describe facts.
  • Use transitions to connect your ideas. Don’t have ideas jumbled in the same paragraph or merely string quotes together. Evidence (quotes, examples from the text/s) must be clearly introduced, explained, and analyzed. You have to connect the dots for your readers. Clearly explain the significance of your points (it’s like baking – you might have all the ingredients on the table, but if you don’t know what to do with them, you can’t bake the cake!). Really think about the argument/structure of your essay: what do your various paragraphs (and ideas) have to do with each other, other than the fact that they are dealing with the same text(s)? What other deeper, less superficial connections can you highlight for your readers?
  • In general, you need to make sure that whatever you write serves a particular purpose in your essay. There are many places where you might make general statements (e.g., humans and machines are similar to each other) or hint at some larger point but don’t actually take the statement to its logical conclusion (ex: technology can be a good or bad thing … ok … but how/why?). These sections (the majority of the essays) take up precious space but don’t add anything significant to the essay. You have to get to the point you faster, s try to completely cut the fluff and then draw out the significance of your points (this is where the “so what?” comes in). Try to avoid fluff, wordiness, repetition, and generality: saying the same thing over and over again in different ways or talking around the text. When you quote, you should comment on/analyze the text rather than merely describing it (move beyond simply providing evidence).
  • This assignment is a close reading of one or two texts (don’t bring in outside information or spend time discussing the “real world” or “our society”). Therefore, you will need to return to the text(s) as you revise. Why are the parts of the text)s you chose to discuss in your essay (the evidence) important? Grapple with the ideas. Beware of absolutes/over-simplifications – nuances and complexity are interesting. Remember, you don’t have have to make a one-sided/absolute argument What does your approach offer the reader in terms of seeing these text(s) in a new light? Work on presenting a complex, nuanced argument.
  • Mostly everyone needs to work on his introduction. But in order to figure out what you are (or are not, in some cases!) saying, you need to go back to the body paragraphs. Then get your argument and put it up front. Then go back and make sure each body paragraph supports this main point with evidence and analysis. Then re-write the conclusion. In fact, if you are having trouble clarifying your argument, look to your conclusion (often things come together there in a first draft, as it is the natural place where everything culminates), but part of your work in revising is to bring that material forward and integrate it throughout (to work on structure). Then check to see (by looking at all of your claims isolated together) if there is development and it makes logical sense. Then revise. Etc. You get it. Writing is recursive, revision, a process. It is ongoing, difficult work. But you can do it 🙂
  • Remember that, as always, once you change one thing in your essay, others will need to change as well (you can’t just make revisions in isolation). If you change your claims in your body paragraph, you have to also update your thesis paragraph. Make sure that you read through your essay multiple times (after you think you are finished!) to ensure that all of its parts fit together well. I would suggest reviewing Harvey’s “Elements of an Academic Essay” handout (under Writing Resources) too as you revise.

Happy Revising to all!

We’ll be reviewing in class on Thursday for next week’s midterm, so please do bring your notes and the various texts (including your Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction) to class with you.

Professor Belli

Project #1 First Drafts & Getting Ready for Peer Review Tomorrow (Th 3/19)

Hi everyone:

Just a reminder that I’m away at a conference this week, but one of my colleagues in the English Department, Professor Lovegreen, will be covering class tomorrow, when we will be peer reviewing your first drafts of Project #1.

It’s super important that tomorrow, you come to class on time (Professor Lovegreen will be breaking you up into peer review groups right at 2:30pm, so you need to be there to get put in one), and to bring four printed copies of your complete first draft essay to class (you won’t be able to do peer review if you don’t bring these with you), and to e-mail me the file before class (here’s more info. on submitting your writing to me electronically).

Before class tomorrow, please read through the Peer Review Guidelines (you can download/print out the file there, if you want to bring it in for reference), so you understand the way things will work during class tomorrow.

Below are some writing resources that you may want to look through before class, if you need a little re-familiarizing yourself with the purpose/structure of an argumentative essay.

Happy peer-reviewing, and let me know if you have any questions!

Professor Belli

*And two on how to provide/get feedback:

Upcoming Brooklyn Public Library “Science Fiction in Film” Series

Guess what? The main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (right near the Brooklyn Museum/Prospect Park) is holding a “Science Fiction in Film” series for the next few weeks, on Wednesdays at 7pm. Yippee!!!

And, the first two films are Metropolis (restored version) & Blade Runner (Final Cut), two movies we’re having OpenLab class discussions on this week & will be discussing again in class on Th 3/12. Double yippee!!!

Check out the full details here.


HW for this week (Th 2/5)

Hi everyone!

So good to meet you all today, and to get to know a bit about you and your ideas about science fiction. I’m going to take photos of your group (large!) post-it creations and post them to this site for next week 🙂

I know we went through a lot of material quickly at the end of class, so just a few reminders about what needs to happen before our next class on Thursday (2/5). You should check your homework (as always), on our dynamic course schedule.

1. Get an OpenLab account and join our course site. Follow these instructions here. You should do this ASAP (like today, so in case you run into any problems with your e-mail, you can go to the Help Desk–but definitely no later than tomorrow, F 1/30).

2. Review the Syllabus & OpenLab Composing rubric & guidelines/expectations, (both of which were also handed out in class), and browse through the rest of our OpenLab Course site.

3. Make your Introduction post (due by Su 2/1). You can find more info. about what I’m looking for here, and see the post I already made for myself. Here’s info. about posting/categorizing/commenting, and here is info. about adding links, images, and video to your posts.

4. Read about defining Science Fiction (links provided on the Schedule).

5. Read “The Machine Stops” (a short story by E.M. Forster) & watch Metropolis (the restored version), linked from our Schedule, & blog in response (follow the OpenLab Composing Guidelines for this first post). Make sure to categorize it appropriately (“The Machine Stops” & ‘Metropolis’)

*All response posts are due no later than the Tuesday night before (Thursday’s) class, so this first response post is due no later than coming Tu 2/3. Make sure to go back and read through the posts before class, and to comment on them (and reply to other classmates’ comment) to get some discussion going. You can use these comments to ask questions, debate ideas, reference other texts, build on someone else’s point, etc.

**Use the “Framework for Analyzing Science Fiction Texts” (handed out in class, and listed in Science Fiction Resources), the “Annotating a Text” (in Writing Resources), and “Elements of Fiction” reading (linked from the Schedule) to help you move beyond summary to thinking critically about these texts.

Whew! That’s it for now. I know it seems like a lot to do/learn, but once you get on OpenLab and get the hang of posting, it’s actually simple and fun. Please don’t hesitate to come see me in my office, Namm 520, today (I’ll be around for my office hours, Th 5-pm), e-mail me (jbelli@citytech.cuny.edu), or “comment” (click “reply” to this post) if you have any questions. And, most importantly, happy first day of the semester, and enjoy the weekend ahead 🙂