Assignments, including restatement of Project 2, due to shift to online formats

Course projects. 

Assignment 1. Discourse Community, Personal Relationships and the Social Context of Writing. Due Feb 26th.


How do personal and family relationships fit into larger, external discourse communities? Write an essay or 3 mini-essays of 1600-2000 total words. You can use the two reflection writings you have done to build your essay or mini-essays. This is a discussion of Diaz’s Drown along with a reflection on your own experience.


Part 1. 600-800 words.

In Diaz’s Drown, Yunior has a close bond to his mother. They communicate, sit together, hold hands. Their closeness has no other social or public purpose. Yet when they interact outside of this intimate mother-son relationship, the outside world intrudes and they must display different roles. Analyze the language they share. Discuss how their mother – son relationship changes when they go to a fiesta and interact with other people, when they go shopping, and especially when the father is present. Contrast the difference between a private relationship vs a public discourse in which you display the relationship to and interact with others.

The masculine display of the father and of the brother seem to be a model for Yunior, and they seem to be very important to him. Yet much of Drown is concerned with Yunior’s internal conflict between being a victim himself and victimizing others, dominating or committing violence against others. How does masculine show of domination fit into the public discourse of how people see men and how they talk about men and how men should or shouldn’t act to fit into the community? How do men communicate their masculinity? Who are they communicating this to? Is this a discourse community? Quote the text and comment on Diaz’s descriptions. Use examples of language and gesture from your own experience.

Yunior was best friends with Beto. Yet when Beto gets too close, Yunior does not want their relationship to be known. In fact, he ends their friendship. Why? Analyze this friendship and rejection in terms of personal relationship vs. discourse community. What would happen if Yunior went public and told people about what happened? There is a gay bar in the area, which the boys reject and ridicule. Are gay and straight separate discourse communities? What are the rules of each group? What are the modes of communication, language, gestures that separate the communities? Is common ground possible?  For Yunior, the answer seems to be no. What do you say?


Part 2. 500-700 words. Compare and contrast a personal or family relationship of yours vs. a discourse community that you are a part of. It could be a job, school, or an informal group of friends who have some activity and purpose in common and about which you discuss, or write or communicate and share information. Discuss the language specific to this discourse community. Can other people join this group? What genres of writing or types of documents do you produce? Texts, Emails, Chats, Notes. Reflect on the difference between a discourse community vs a personal relationship. Compare to Diaz.


Part 3. 400 to 600 words. Diaz as writer. Who is his audience? Is he only writing for the D.R. immigrant community? Or is he reaching out to a wider audience? What does the audience do in response to a text? Do some research on Diaz. What kind of writing do you now do and how has that changed over time? In what ways do you think of yourself as a writer? Compare your personal writing genres, text messages, emails, journals, schedules, calendars to any writing you do at work or in school.   What are the differences and the common features? Reflect on the mental activity of organizing and presenting information efficiently and practically in order to communicate your ideas and participate in various social discourses and discourse communities.



How this assignment facilitates the student’s progress toward the 6 learning outcomes of the first year writing program:


This writing assignment has the student read the text critically and analytically, and reflect on personal experience and different discourse communities. We will have discussed the text extensively in class. (Learning outcomes 1, 3, 4.)


The student will explicitly compare personal genres of writing and communication in his or her own discourse communities to those represented in the text and compose in an academic mode. However, the student is also invited to reflect on life experience and social discourse using more personal modes of writing. (Learning outcome 2, 4, 5.)


We will begin the research as inquiry process by researching the author and discussing current controversies of author in relation to the “Me Too” movement and comparing the conflicts of the character in the text. The student will reflect on social and ethical responsibilities and consequences of writing. (Learning outcomes 3, 4, 5.)


Learning outcomes 3 and 5 will be more intensely focused on in Assignment 2, and Learning outcome 6 will be heavily focused on in Assignment 3.



Unit 2 for 1121 Spring 2020 NYCCT, Restatement due to shift to online format

Total word count 2200-2800 words.  Due April 7, before your spring break.  This project will be a part of your final  6000 word portfolio.   Note however due to emergency circumstances of this semester, I will grade accordingly and give you as much credit as possible for all work you do.  So don’t worry about the exact word count.  Note below I’ve included one video and referenced one film, Glory (1989).  As you research and pursue your inquiry, according to your intellectual curiosity, maintain a list or file of audio and video and graphic sources that you can use for your Multi-modal repurpose of this research review.

Write a review of Hannah-Jones, Intro to 1619 Project, “The Idea of America.”

Also available here:

and Wilentz’s

American Slavery and ‘the Relentless Unforeseen’ _ by Sean Wilentz _ NYR Daily _ The New York Review of Books

Review two additional sources.  As a student researcher and inquirer, you find your own articles.  You can share sources on the blog.  The blog is also for bringing up discussion points and questions.  Here are the articles, I’ve found as a result of my “research as inquiry,” two of which we’ve discussed already.  You can use these articles or research and ask questions and look for the sources that will inform you on what you want to know.



Here’s an excerpt from Frederick Douglas writing about advising President Abraham Lincoln that shows us what the situation was during the Civil War for free African Americans.  Question to ask is: how does this relate to Hannah-Jones’ view.  This whole website is worth looking at for the role of African Americans in the Civil War.  You can also read the wikipedia entry on Frederick Douglass.

Douglass, Frederick. “Secession and War.”  (The date on the website must be a mistake, as the text discusses events during the war. Douglass’ “Autobiography” was published in several editions, each time the author adding discussion of recent events.)

And here is a super interesting entry to Wikipedia on the famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the Color Brigades in the Civil War.  The wikipedia entry can be discussed itself, but also can serve as a source for your own further research/inquiry.

The movie, Glory depicts this regiment.  If you want to see it on Youtube or Netflix or Amazon, you can use it in your research as inquiry project.  Perhaps write a review of the movie, and discuss the historical accuracy, or simply a reflection on it and what you did or did not know about this topic.  And of course, relate it back to Hannah-Jones and Wilentz.  You’ll note that Frederick Douglas in the article above is discussing recruiting African Americans into these special brigades.

Here’s a video, it’s long, of 3 professors, discussing the Reconstruction Period after the Civil War.  Very interesting and probably necessary to understand racism in the U.S. today.

And here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry on the Civil Rights Act of 1968, arguably the 3rd founding of the U.S.

Lastly, I want to link an outline of the U.S. Constitution.  We should especially look at the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.  Researchers and inquirers should do a wiki search on each and also compare to the wartime “Emancipation Proclamation.” We will discuss this in the blog and on Zoom.




Unit 3. Multi-Modal Project for Electronic display and Final Portfolio with final reflection.

This is a second presentation of a previous body of work you’ve done. Of course you will add new “content.”

It incorporates audio/video/digital/graphics/spatial content.  These are the additional modes of perception.

It also redirects your presentation of information and understanding and knowledge to a different audience, not the professor.

The audience could be your peers. The audience could be  the public at large. Or you could address a younger audience, for example, a middle school class. Your audience could be an individual, a friend, a family member. It could be  your family as a whole.  Or a community organization.  Or a group of friends. A discourse community.

The multi-modal piece could be a set of poems. It could be a photo-essay with captions or narrative or descriptive writing. It could be a video. It could be a written text with a musical soundtrack or with ambient sound. It could be a montage of portraits of people you know with some written or spoken narrative or description.

Notice, if you want to do something completely analog, like a painting or a hand drawn illustration, or an oral narration, you can document it electronically by digital photography, video, etc.

Basically, in addition to the written text, it should have a second mode of delivering/communicating the information.

It should be a “complete” or “finished” work. In this context, you should try to control the final “look” of the piece as an electronic product or a digital object. But you won’t be graded on how “great” it is.

Instead you’ll be graded on completing it and the following.   Once you’re done, you write a 1000 word artist’s statement or reflection on your activity. How you came to make certain choices. How that changed the message you communicated. What you learned about the subject and your activity as a writer/artist/director/creator/content producer/author. Also reflect  on knowledge and understanding and acquiring knowledge and understanding and how to use it and present it.  Reflect on what you’re goals were in the piece and what you intend to do in the future.

Some version of the multi-modal piece must be stored on an electronic file and included in your 6000 word portfolio.

As a starting point, you can use your work on Diaz and discourse community; Hannah-Jones and Wilentz on racism in America and American history; or your reflections on and experience of the corona virus pandemic of 2019-2020.


This assignment asks the student to repurpose the work accomplished in Unit 2 and create a multi-modal text including audio and video. It focuses on Learning outcome 6.


Final Portfolio of all projects and reflections. 6000 words total including Final reflection essay. Electronic file version of multi-modal project. Due May 18.