Author Archives: Jody R. Rosen

Happy summer, and a few more things (Glossary entries!)

Thank you, everyone, for an enlightening semester and an enjoyable last class. A few announcements:

*If you are missing any glossary entries, we negotiated a absolute last final no-later-than deadline of end-of-day Thursday (which means I will look at them as soon as I wake up on Friday to finalize grades). If you don’t have 15, take this opportunity to finish!

*I gave final exam grades to everyone in class. If you want your final exam grade but weren’t in class, let me know and we can make arrangements.

*I will be sending you comments and grades for Project #2 by replying privately to your Project #2 post.

*Finally, we talked in our last class, to mirror our first-day conversation, about what fiction we’re reading now or this summer, and sharing recommendations. If you have favorites to share, or are seeking recommendations, comment here. I hope you all have big reading plans for the summer!

Enjoy your summer school, summer jobs, summer studies, and most especially, summer fun!



Final final exam post

In class on Tuesday, we discussed some of the passages we had selected in our groups. We also talked about instructions for the exam and the logistics. I said that I would make final decisions. Here they are:

We narrowed down passages to the eight listed in the post on passages. Review those.

We talked about instructions and logistics about how many passages you need to write about, etc. Here are those answers:

  • How many passages will appear on the exam? Six
  • How many passages will you have to choose and write about? Three
  • How many different texts must you cover in total (identified and compared to)? Four (each passage you identify plus one from before the midterm)
  • For comparisons, how many from the first half of the class, and how many post-midterm? at least one from before the midterm

Finally, here’s a bonus: correctly completing Part 1 (identification) for the other passages will earn you extra credit!

In class I mentioned that now is the time to finalize your glossary entries. This means making sure you have 15, and making sure they have the right category (glossary) and are edited and revised as needed to follow the Glossary Project instructions.

Please ask questions here by replying to this post.


Still preparing for the final exam

This will serve as the basis for our work in the first half of Thursday’s Wednesday class:

Instructions for the final exam:

  1. identify the title of the text, the author, the speaker/thinker/subject of the passage
  2. Then, in one paragraph, interpret and analyze the passage, calling attention to specific details and words in the passage.
  3. in another paragraph, apply your analysis of the passage to the argument the text as a whole is making.
  4. in another paragraph, compare how a moment/scene/event in another text deals with a similar issue or theme you identified in the argument. Be as specific as possible, including details and paraphrasing that moment since you cannot provide the passage itself.


  • How many passages will appear on the exam?
  • How many passages will you have to choose and write about?
  • How many different texts must you cover in total (identified and compared to)?
  • For comparisons, how many from the first half of the class, and how many post-midterm?

Preparing for the final exam

Here are the passages we identified in class on Wednesday that we would focus on for the final exam. In class on Thursday, we will add any additional passages and work to develop our responses to them, in addition to establishing the instructions for the exam.

If you have any additional passages you would like to add, please do so in the comments.

Quicksand: (these will be completed, but in the meanwhile, you can find them by going to the given page in the online version and looking for the beginning and ending word or phrase.

online copy 196-7 “It’s racial…I have offered you marriage…step”

231 “Don’t you ever intend to marry, Helga?” “Some day, perhaps. I don’t know. Marriage–that means children, to me. And why add more suffering to the world? Why add more unwanted, tortured Negroes to America? Why do Negroes have children? Surely it must be sinful. Think of the awfulness of being responsible for the giving of life to creatures doomed to endure such wounds to the flesh, such wounds to the spirit, as Negroes have to endure.”

6 “He hoped…prayed”

chapter 2 (p 45 in the4 yellow book) “But just what did she want. Barring a desire for material security, gracious ways of living, a profusion of lovely clothes, and a goodly share of envious admiration. Helga Crane didn’t know, couldn’t tell. But there was, she knew, something else. Happiness, she supposed. Whatever that might be. What, exactly, she wondered, was happiness? Very positively she wanted it. Yet her conception of it had no tangibility. She couldn’t define it, isolate it, and contemplate it as she could some other abstract things. Hatred, for instance. Or kindness.

The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich

There is something terrible about fighting your father. It came on suddenly, with the second blow—a frightful kind of joy. A power surged up from the center of me, and I danced at him, light and giddy, full of a heady rightness. Here is the thing: I wanted to waste him, waste him good. I wanted to smack the living shit out of him. Kill him, if I must. A punch for Doris, a kick for Raymond. And all the while I was silent, then screaming, then silent again, in this rage of happiness that filled me with a simultaneous despair so that, I guess you could say, I stood apart from myself.



First, I told him that keeping his sister’s shawl was wrong, because we never keep the clothing of the dead. Now’s the time to burn it, I said. Send it off to cloak her spirit. And he agreed.

When his father said those words, the boy went still. What had his sister felt? What had thrust through her heart? Had something broken inside her, too, as it had in him? Even then, he knew that this broken place inside him would not be mended, except by some terrible means. For he kept seeing his mother put the baby down and grip his sister around the waist. He saw Aanakwad swing the girl lightly out over the side of the wagon. He saw the brown shawl with its red lines flying open. He saw the shadows, the wolves, rush together, quick and avid, as the wagon with sled runners disappeared into the distance—forever, for neither he nor his father saw Aanakwad again.

The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick

Rosa did not feel hunger; she felt light, not like someone walking but like someone in a faint, in trance, arrested in a fit, someone who is already a floating angel, alert and seeing everything, but in the air, not there, not touching the road. As if teetering on the tips of her fingernails. She looked into Magda’s face through a gap in the shawl: a squirrel in a nest, safe, no one could reach her inside the little house of the shawl’s windings. The face, very round, a pocket mirror of a face: but it was not Rosa’s bleak complexion dark like cholera, it was another kind of face altogether, eyes blue as air, smooth feathers of hair, nearly as yellow as the Star sewn into Rosa’s coat. You could think she was one of their babies.

517: “Without complaining, Magda relinquished Rosa’s teats, first the left, then the right: both were cracked, not a sniff of milk. The duct-crevice extinct, a dead volcano, blind eye, chill hole, so Magda took the corner of the shawl and milked it instead. She sucked and sucked, filling the threads with wetness. The shawl’s good flavor, milk of linen.

It was a magic shawl, it could nourish an infant for three days and three nights. Magda did not die, she stayed alive, although very quiet.

What you Pawn I Will Redeem

“I’ve been homeless for six years now. If there’s such a thing as an effective homeless man, then I suppose I’m effective. Being homeless is probably the only thing I’ve ever been good at. I know where to get the best free food. I’ve made friends with restaurant and convenience-store managers who let me use their bathrooms. And I don’t mean the public bathrooms, either. I mean the employees’ bathrooms, the clean ones hidden behind the kitchen or the pantry or the cooler. I know it sounds strange to be proud of this, but it means a lot to me, being trustworthy enough to piss in somebody else’s clean bathroom. Maybe you don’t understand the value of a clean bathroom, but I do.”

“I took my grandmother’s regalia and walked outside. I knew that solitary yellow bead was part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in. I stepped off the sidewalk and into the intersection. Pedestrians stopped. Cars stopped. The city stopped. They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing. ”

You in America

” You did not tell him but you wished you were lighter-skinned so they would not stare so much. You thought about your sister back home, about her skin the color of honey, and wished you had come out like her. You wished that again the night you first met his parents. But you did not tell him because he would look solemn and hold your hand and tell you it was your burnished skin color that first attracted him. You didn’t want him to hold your hand and say he understood because again there was nothing to understand, it was just the way things were.”


How to Date a Brown Girl (A Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)

“Tell her that you love her hair, that you love her skin, her lips, because, in truth, you love them more than you love your own.
She’ll say, I like Spanish guys, and even though you’ve never been to Spain, say, I like you. You’ll
sound smooth.”
“Dinner will be tense. You are not good at talking to people you don’t know. A halfie will tell you
that her parents met in the Movement, will say, Back then people thought it a radical thing to do. It will sound like something her parents made her memorize. Your brother once heard that one and said, Man, that sounds like a whole lot of Uncle Tomming to me. Don’t repeat this.
Put down your hamburger and say, It must have been hard.”

Reading Junot Diaz

We had the option to read one of several stories. Today we will read and discuss “How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)” by Junot Diaz

Read the story, and write about your reactions as you read.

offensive: only cares about getting girls into bed, also stereotyping: based on who they are that will determine how he treats them.


commentary about race: not someone we’d want to spend time with

ending: silly, circles back to beginning

You: instruction manual. sterilizing. removes his personality.

“Tell her that you love her hair, that you love her skin, her lips, because , in truth, you love them more than you love your own.”: if he can’t love himself, no wonder he can’t properly love anyone else

race/racism: shared across genders, immature

local vs outsider

“easy” vs. “uptight”

Is this:

  • cautionary: you have to be careful with how you present yourself to other people
    • protagonist is very careful about he presents himself, how others read him
    • women: hey, watch out for guys like this! (or is it?)
  • social critique: about race, about class, cultural background
  • bragging: does the author want us to think this is cool? this is what we should want to be like?
    • but bragging is a way to show insecurities


Project #2 thesis statement drafts

thesis statements for Project #2:

An annotation about the Great Migration would be helpful for readers because the Great Migration is symbolic of Helga’s migration through her quest for contentment.

  • reflect on Great Migration annotation
  • think about it in the context of a few examples
    • Naxos to Chicago
    • Chicago to NY
    • What’s at stake with leaving Harlem for Copenhagen? for the South?
    • somewhere along the way: glossary entry references

Color is important for Helga, and a sticking point in contrast to others who want people of color to blend in or to stand out. Knowing background about fashion trends and who was supposed to wear color and who avoid it would help readers consider Helga’s dilemma with her appearance.

[Helga Crane is told that colored women should not wear bright colors but should wear dull or not bright colors. But what should be known is that the color of the clothing would depend on whether you were a working woman or a housewife.]

Because of her time in Copenhagen, Helga truly feels like an outsider.

Copenhagen is such a culture shock that Helga feels like an outsider not just because of her race but also because of ??? and ???.

Understanding the demographics of the 1920s can illuminate how racism affects Helga’s decision about marriage and having children.

Blogging about Contemporary Fiction

For the rest of the semester, we will think about and respond to our readings with a focus on identifying important passages. This will prepare us for the final exam.

When it’s your turn to post,

  1. identify a passage you think is important and add it to your post (either type it or copy and paste it from the website where the story was posted)
  2. Then, in one paragraph, interpret and analyze the passage, calling attention to specific details and words in the passage.
  3. in another paragraph, apply your analysis of the passage to the argument you think the story as a whole is making.
  4. in another paragraph, compare how a moment/scene/event/image/symbol/motif in another text includes a similar issue or theme you identified in the argument or in some way resonates with the passage you chose. Be as specific as possible, including details and from that moment.

For Wednesday’s class, volunteers should post by Tuesday at 8pm; everyone else can respond by 10am on Wednesday. Feel free to post about “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick, “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, or “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie.

UPDATE: For Monday’s class, volunteers should post by Friday night; everyone else can respond by 10am on Wednesday. Posts can cover “You in America” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie, or “The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick, “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich.

Whichever story you use for your post, please be sure to follow the structure listed above.

“The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich

In “The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich, who is the narrator?

first-person, “our people”

Ah, grandson of Aanakwaad and her husband.

What is the narrator’s relationship to the other characters in the story?



her husband

5yo son

9yo daughter

her lover

their baby

lover’s uncle

4 years younger: Doris (sister) and Raymond (brother) and their husband and wife (also siblings)

father (drinker, abuser)