Author: Mark (Page 1 of 6)

Final Essay Assignment (Due Thurs., Dec. 17)

Please complete your final post (listed below this one).

For your final essay (2-3 typed pages), I ask that you focus on an author and work you found particularly interesting. Explain the work’s importance and interest to you as well as its relevance for its time and, perhaps, for today. For example, an essay on Alexander Hamilton could connect to his own background and achievements, while also speaking to the larger story of American immigration and perhaps their treatment today.  I encourage you to work from a previous post or our final post (see below) and to email me regarding any questions you may have about the assignment at: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu.

Upload your essay here. [Double-spaced, 12 font, with a title, an introduction, 3-4 body paragraphs, and a conclusion]. If you get the essay in before the due date, I am happy to review it for you. Please also consider meeting with me on Zoom before the semester ends. It would be excellent to have face time with you if you haven’t joined a meeting yet. It would also be an opportunity for us to discuss your work this semester and for you to ask any additional questions you may have.

Week 16: Final Post Assignment

Hi Everyone,

Thank you for your interesting responses to the “Declaration of Sentiments” and Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman.”  It’s taken a while for these pioneering feminists and Civil Rights activists to get their due but in the past few years, more Americans are recognizing their achievements.  Just this past summer, for example, a statue was placed in NYC’s Central Park in honor of Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

This is my final post assignment for the semester, and I want to introduce three more remarkable men and women who fought to establish the rights of women and the freedom of over 4 million enslaved African Americans: Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.

Your final post (due Tues., Dec. 15th) is to respond to ONE of these author’s works and/or lives. Your final essay (2-3 pages) could also be an extended discussion of one or more of these figures based on the readings/videos listed below.

In the 1840s, 50s, and 60s, these and other abolitionists galvanized support in the North to end slavery in the South, upon which its entire economy was based. When Abraham Lincoln became president in 1860, the Civil War would soon begin, with northern troops (the Union) fighting southern confederates.  The war ended in 1865, a month before Lincoln was assassinated (April 15, 1865). The Civil War cost over 650,000 lives but succeeded in abolishing slavery forever. 

Key to insuring this freedom were poet Walt Whitman, former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglas, and Harriet Tubman, a key figure in the underground railroad, which helped thousands of slaves escape from the south prior to 1865.

Walt Whitman: Brooklyn born Walt Whitman was an important poet, America’s most famous in fact, who celebrated the freedom of each and every American in his celebrated poem “Song of Myself” (1855), later collected in Leaves of Grass.  In addition to his theme of individual freedom and equality across race, class, gender (and even sexuality), Whitman also celebrated Nature, spirituality, and the simple joy of human existence. 

Here is brief biography of his life as well as the opening two stanzas from his famed poem “Song of Myself.”

Frederick Douglass: One of the most famous abolitionists of all was the former slave Frederick Douglass, who wrote a widely read autobiography of his life and experiences.  Here is a brief biography and a video of an actor reading his essay (also review text version): “What to the Slave is the 4th of July” (1852).

In addition to watching the above short videos, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND watching the recent film Harriet based on Harriet Tubman.  It’s an enormously powerful and moving film and will provide a poignant end point to this class, which has focused so much on the long battle for equal rights for all. [It’s on Amazon Prime — please watch if you can].

Week 14: Happy Thanksgiving (11/26) and Native American Heritage Day (11/27)!

It was good to see a number of you at the Extra Credit lecture event featuring Annie Correal.  Here is a link to the event in case you’d still like to view it:

Annie Correal’s “Love and Black Lives, in Pictures Found on a Brooklyn Street.”

Fellow student, Afshan Shariat, wrote an illuminating post on Correal’s importance as a writer, following the event.  He writes:

“The conversation with New York Times journalist Annie Correal was incredibly interesting; I appreciated not only her curiosity in what the found photo album contained, but her determination to follow through and find as much information about the people in the photos as possible. In general, we don’t really get to learn much about the lives of the people who lived in New York, especially the lives of people of color and how they made this city their home. We often only hear stories of gentrification in the news, but not of the triumphs of the communities that came before it, so it was nice to see that Correal felt a sense of responsibility of telling their stories so that they aren’t forgotten, and that they are given a stronger voice to ward off the negative effects of gentrification.”

For the remainder of this course, I’d like to keep the focus on celebrating the work of our intrepid forerunners who helped establish equal rights for all – in a period when these rights were too often the exclusive preserve of white, propertied men.

Accordingly, for our next assignment I want to focus on the rise of the women’s rights movement in America, which began at the Seneca Falls Convention in July of 1848. The meeting launched the women’s suffrage movement, which eventually gave women the right to vote in 1920 (7 decades later!). At this convention was read the “Declaration of Sentiments,” primarily written by Susan B. Anthony, essentially a re-writing of the original “Declaration of Independence,” with the rights of women in mind. 

As you read this document, please choose one of the grievances of gender discrimination that you sometimes still see happening in today’s society.  Alternately, talk about an example of an important gain women HAVE achieved some 175 years later that they did not have in 1848.

Another important figure to speak at a subsequent women’s rights convention was the former slave Sojourner Truth. Truth is considered one of the founders of both the woman’s rights movement and the Civil Rights movement.  As you listen to actor Kerry Washington recite her dramatic speech, think about the particular arguments she makes and the masterful way she works her audience to see her point of view.  

First read: “Ain’t I a Women”

Then, view video below:

Your post (on “Declaration of Sentiments” or Sojourner Truth) is due by Friday, December 5

Also keep in mind, that I am requiring a short final essay from you due Thursday, December 17, our last day of class. For this assignment (3-4 typed pages), I ask that you focus on an author and work you found particularly interesting. Explain the work’s importance and interest to you as well as its relevance for its time and, perhaps, for today. For example, an essay on Alexander Hamilton could connect to his own background and achievements, while also speaking to the larger story of American immigration and perhaps their treatment today.  I encourage you to work from a previous (or upcoming) post and to email me regarding any questions you may have about the assignment at: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu.

Lastly, I want to recommend a wonderful recent film based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women (1868) that was strongly influenced by Emerson’s ideas of self-reliance, as applied to young ladies. Louisa May Alcott was a neighbor of and great friends with Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson. It’s a heart-warming film to watch over the holidays, directed by the enormously talented Greta Gerwig.

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