Brittny Sobers Essay 2 Feedback


These are great beginnings to this essay you have here.  I’ve posted most of my comments to the DOC itself, but here are some big picture thoughts:

–I love how you begin to describe the sounds and strums of the song, but can you go further?  Make me “hear” this song with your words.

–It seems like the most powerful question you’re raising in this essay (at least to me) is the question of how insecurity and love are related.  Can you bring in another article that helps us explore this question?  Some more quotes from Arsanios’ text and from Hill’s song—as well as your thoughts about those quotations—would be helpful too.

Don’t forget an MLA Works Cited page!


Redoanul Islam Essay 2 Feedback


I’ve actually posted most of my comments on your document itself.  Let me know if you can’t see them.

This is a good start, but let’s develop it a good deal.

–I want you to make a paragraph out of your questions and also form a thesis that explains how you think Malik’s song comments on the limitations of poverty–of growing up poor–and also how it comments on the importance of following your passion.

–Quote more from the song and explain how the quotations connect to your thesis/interpretation.

–I also want to see you describing the sounds of the music much more.

Thank you,


Jayvon Judge Essay 2 Feedback


I hope some more feedback for you on your Essay 2 rolls in; it’s the end of the semester, so I assume many students are quite busy.  However, it would be good if they read this given the thought you’ve put into it.

A couple ideas:

–what about putting the questions in their own paragraph after your second paragraph?  You comment at the end of that paragraph on the hi-hat sound that reminds you of a “flashback.”  You could stop there and observe that this sound leads to certain questions about the meanings suggested by certain weird sounds in the song–and the song in general.  Then you could pose your questions

–after you pose your questions, you can propose your own hypotheses that respond to some of them.  After reading this draft, I think you’re focusing on three ways of understanding Brown’s use of the term “union”: the union between past and present that a person might try to build (or break) as they “grow,” the union a man and a woman might try to build, the “union” of the USA, threatened as it is by police violence.  In your next draft you could propose and explore not only these hypotheses but also how they are related to each other.

–building off the last point, can you add a paragraph—or several paragraphs—that explore the connections between the difficulties of “being a man” in a relationship (on one hand) and being a man in a society racked by police violence.  It strikes me that difficulties with authority are involved in both of these “fraught” unions.  I encourage you to go into your own experience here as well as Namwali Serpell’s text that we read titled “Triptych.”

All my best,



For Sunday 5/3 / Leonardo Mendez Essay 2 Feedback

Hi everyone–can’t believe it’s already coming to be May!

I want us to think a bit more carefully about the paragraph.  The paragraph is the basic building block of the essay.  For your paragraph to form a solid brick in the house that is your essay, it needs to be intentionally put together—and focused on doing 1 thing: developing one point, discussing one idea, describing 1 event, etc.

To get us thinking about how to form strong paragraphs, I want us to read Leonardo’s Essay Two Draft for Sunday.  As you read it, I want you to do 2 things:

I) make a list of notes: 1 note about each paragraph in Leonardo’s essay–1 note containing 3 parts:( 1a) what the paragraph’s main idea/focus is and (1b) what the paragraph does for the essay and reader; what its role in the essay seems to be; and (1c), one suggestion for making each paragraph more focused.

Write your list here.

II) Rearrange your list of Leonardo’s paragraph so that it forms the outline of a differently ordered essay.  Basically, you are rearranging his paragraphs into a new order—but not just any order! Be sure your order makes sense.  At the end of your new list of paragraphs, write a note explaining why you put the paragraphs in the order you did.

That’s all.  I’ll look for your responses Sunday!  Email me with questions.



1. Mendez includes here his questions regarding Gaga’s “Angel Down”—presumably questions he is curious to explore in the essay (but he doesn’t explicitly say this).  The questions are not (yet) in prose form, but rather are in the form of a list (as is a preliminary note regarding the different topics the song is “about”.)
2. Mendez introduces background info about the song and its connection to the Trayvon Martin shooting as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
3. Mendez introduces a quotation from the lyrics to “Angel Down” and explores the question of what this lyric might mean.  He also responds to it with his own view on whether and how people have just been “standing around” before digressing into brief mentions of a couple other topics (that could form the basis of their own paragraphs):
    a) gun control and
    b) the symbolic meaning of the term “angel” in this song.
4. Mendez discusses “Triptych: Texas Pool Party” by Namwali Serpell, paying particular attention to the section which represents mythically the perspective of the police officer, Eric Casebolt, who brutalized Tatyana Rhodes during a pool party altercation in McKinney, TX several years ago.
–(4b) He then makes a claim about the connection between police brutality and a new term, “system racism,” which could be discussed further.
–(4c) Mendez then immediately moves into a discussion of what I presume is an article about racist remarks on social media made by police officers in Philadelphia (he doesn’t–yet–introduce us to the author name and title of this article). After introducing a couple quotations of what police officers posted to social media, Mendez then begins making a connection to a quotation from Serpell’s text about police officer diversity training—a great connection, but one which could be explained further or in different terms.  He also makes the claim that “irony” is involved here but doesn’t (yet) explain this.
5. Mendez includes here a list of a two quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me, which I assume he will contextualize and connect to his other material in his next draft.
6. This is Mendez’ Works Cited page.  (Watch the formatting.)
My proposed re-ordering of the paragraphs:
2. I think the background info and context really works as an opening paragraph.
3/3b/1 (combine). I think Mendez could keep the first half of his (currently 3rd) paragraph where he quotes from the song and poses a question about it.  He could then use his question regarding this line to transition into some of the other questions (from his paragraph that currently is first–with the questions).
3a. A discussion of how the song—and Martin’s killing—connects to gun control and the different debates surrounding gun control could go next.
**New paragraph** describing the sounds of the song and how they might connect to the topics at play: police brutality, gun control, etc.
4a. Mendez could then add a transitional sentence explaining why he wants to discuss Serpell’s text about the Texas Pool Party incident and go into the first part of that paragraph.
4b. I think a separate paragraph could be formed out of Mendez’ interest in the connections between the psychology of the police officer in Serpell’s “Texas Pool Party” (i.e., how the police officer appears to think) and what he refers to as “systemic racism”—a term that he could also explain more about in this new paragraph.
4c. Mendez could then form another new paragraph where he discusses the article on racist comments on social media made by Philadelphia police officers.  In his opening lines of this new paragraph, he could explain how this phenomenon is an example of “systemic racism” and its connection to police officer psychology.
5. **Mendez may not need to explore the connections to Ta Nehisi Coates’ text (although it could be interesting if he did).  I’d suggest trying to move his discussion back toward Gaga’s song—I’d be more interested in hearing him write a bit more about that toward the end of his essay.
6. In the coming weeks, I will point you towards some online resources for formatting your Works Cited pages.  Stay posted!

Jeicot Suarez Essay 2 Feedback

Jeicot, hi.

Glad to have read and workshopped your draft last week on Zoom with several other Zoomers–but sorry you couldn’t attend.  I hope everything is ok with you and your family.

Regarding the essay, I agree with Brittny’s positive feedback on your description of the sounds in the song—although I also think it’s crucial to introduce close readings of the song’s lyrics as well.  Here were a few ideas we discussed for adding to and changing your draft during the workshop:

–After we listened to “Boys Don’t Cry” together, we talked about how, based on the song’s title, many of us were expecting the song to be a different genre—R&B, for instance, came to a couple people’s minds—other than rock (or, perhaps more accurately, post-punk).  We thought that you could perhaps begin the essay with a discussion of how many listeners might expect a very different song based on its title—and, more broadly, how to words in the title connect to the ideas about masculinity that you are discussing in the paper.  You might also address the question of irony in this song—words not meaning what they seem to mean.

–You might also consider writing about the genre of music that this is and how it connects people pursuing a specific lifestyle—e.g., punks, skaters, etc.  What is it about music that often helps people band together in groups/lifestyles?

–I had the thought that because “masculinity” is such a central idea in this paper, you should make a paragraph that discusses what it means—for you, and in the context of the song.

–Again, I’d suggest moving your questions so that they go toward the end of your introductory paragraphs and open up the essay’s transition into your close readings of your texts and the song’s lyrics/sounds.

–Introduce the title and author of the article on the Gillette ad.  Also, given that you’re writing about gender here, you could connect this text to Andrea Chu’s text that we read way back at the beginning of the semester.

Be in touch with any questions.  I know this is a lot.


Tessaya Forde Essay 2 Feedback


Thank for once again going first with your essay–it’s clearly been an inspiration to many students to read your work and glean ideas from it.  A couple thoughts;

–I agree with Jayvon that adding more of your own personal experience with the material of your essay—both the song and the issues concerning comparison and body-image difficulties that many femme-identified people face—could really fill things in in an engaging way.

–In terms of the big picture, I would suggest rethinking the organization of the essay—perhaps putting your questions more toward the beginning and then also using one of your opening paragraphs to introduce the big picture of the essay: tell your reader up front what are you going to be doing in this essay (hard to know this in your first draft, but now you’re on draft 2!), what are the issues you’re interested in focusing on here?, etc. (this can tie into the questions you’re posing)

–One key thing that I’m noticing you’re interested in (and which I think you could incorporate more as you re-write–especially in your Intro, but also in your body paragraphs) are the inter-racial dynamics of femme-identified people: wanting to look more black if you’re white, wanting to look more white if you’re black, etc.  What do you think this is about?  I encourage you to explore this more through the song and through Bell Hooks’ essay.  You might also look for an article of your own on this topic to bring into the essay.

–Lastly, I *like* all the quotes you’ve chosen and encourage you to go further with your analysis of the language in them.  See if you can set up 1 quotation per paragraph: introduce the quote, then really key in on everything you notice about the word choice–including questions you have about it.  Don’t worry about going off-topic here—that can be interesting to do and can lead you to even more interesting places in your essay.  Once you’re done writing about the quote, go back to the beginning of your paragraph, re-read it, and then write a sentence that informs your reader of the point(s) you’re making about the song in your analysis in that paragraph (and, if you can, how these points connect to the main points of your essay).

I know this is a lot, but we’ll be trying to work on a good deal of this together.  As always, let me know of any specific questions that arise as you revise.

Thanks again,