Brainstorming for the final exam


For the final exam, we are going to draft several questions for a comparative essay. In class on Wednesday, we will narrow this list to 5 possible topics. I will then offer you the choice of one of three of the topics on the final exam, which you will take on Monday, 5/20.

We discussed several interesting connections between Louise Erdrich’s “The Shawl” and Toni Morrison’s Beloved in class today, and between Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” in our class last week. Please reply here with some suggested topics. Please include a short rationale to help the class understand the topic. We might blend related topics together as we did for the midterm exam.

CUNYFirst and you

Did you know that there’s a new system that replaces eSIMS that you’ll use for registration, accessing your grades, and more? It’s called CUNYFirst, and you’ll need to learn how to use it before registration starts in May. There will be workshops, so keep your eyes open for information around campus letting you know when you can attend a CUNYFirst workshop.

Spiteful in 1873

“Beloved by Toni Morrison”, the story is based on an unexpected hardship faced by slave mother and their four children.  The women were more prone to abusers. They suffer twice as men did during the slavery period.

In the first chapter, Toni Morrison describes the characters in the story by starting with Sethe and her three children. It took place in Cincinnati, Ohio. Baby Suggs’s tells her daughter-in-law that she remembers all her eight children gone away. “My first-born. All I can remember of her is how she loved the burned bottom of bread. Can you beat that?  Eight children and that’s all I remember.” P5. Baby Suggs died after two songs Howard and Buglar ran away leaving Sethe and Denver behind.

Paul D came to Sethe’s house after eight years. Denver felt that the house is haunted. She started crying before Paul D to share her sorrows. She said she has no friends after her brothers left their house and nobody comes by to talk to them. Everyone seemed avoiding them. But her mother Seethe never want to leave the place after much suffering in the past.

Sethe told Paul D the pass events that made her run away from the slave owner. Paul D remembers her at Sweet home. “He had never seen her hair Kentucky. Although her face was eighteen years older than when last he saw her, it was softer now.” P10.

She was pregnant when two white boys abused her by milking from her breast and later whipped her for complaining about it. “They used cowhide on you?” “They beat you and you was pregnant” p20 Paul D rubbed his cheek on her back to share the sorrow. He could feel her tears rushing down without looking at it. Later, Paul D tried to drive away the ghost that seemed to haunt the house.


Additional midterm-exam information

Some of you have asked about the short-answer portion of the midterm exam. Here’s a description: there will be a list of terms from “Elements of Fiction” (don’t forget to look at all the sections of the site, not just the home page!) and from the list I posted on the blog (there is a lot of overlap, but some terms are only in one place or the other). There will also be a list of passages from our readings this semester. You will have to identify which term is an appropriate label for that passage AND explain why in a sentence or two. There might be more than one right answer, for example, if a passage is an example of first-person narration and setting–either would be correct in that case. You will not get credit, though, if you do not provide an explanation of why it is the appropriate label, since I won’t know if you know the terms or are just guessing.

Bonus points for correctly identifying the source of the passage!

Also, I added a new poll to the sidebar–I’m curious to know your interests for the essay topics. You can choose up to three in the poll.

Brainstorming for the midterm exam

As you well know, our midterm exam will be on March 20th, the last time we meet before Spring Break. In preparation for that, and to make sense of what we’ve worked on for the first half of the semester, we’re going to devote class time today and Monday, March 18th, to an examination of the stories we’ve read and to the overlaps we find among them.

The midterm exam itself will include ten short-answer questions asking you to define or identify terms, and one essay question that will ask you to compare two stories in a specific way. We will develop possible essay questions together in class today–they will each be based on a comparison of some element of two stories. For homework, write a blog post in which you advocate for two or more of these questions to be included among the choices you will have. In your post, consider any of the following questions:

  • What does answering the question allow you to understand about each story?
  • How does the question allow you to further explore the stories?
  • What does the comparison bring out?
  • What examples and quotations would you use in your response?
  • What thesis statement would you include?

In class on Monday, we will narrow the options down to 5 possible essay questions. On the exam, I will include only three of those questions, and you will have to answer one. You will be allowed to bring one sheet of quotations into the exam, which you will use to include evidence in your essay. After the exam, I will collect the quotation sheet along with your exam booklet.

For the essay, you will not be able to use the story you wrote about for Essay #1.

I’m happy to answer any questions in class, or you can reply here with more questions.

Dropbox instructions

For Essay #1, you will submit both Part 1 and Part 2 via Dropbox. You should have received an invitation to join our shared folder already–please let me know if you have not, since you will not be able to submit your essay without accepting that invitation.

  • Go to
  • Create an account using your City Tech email address (I believe that an .edu email address gets you more storage space in your account!) or the email address you asked me to use
  • Log in
  • Look on the left-hand side for the word Sharing (it has a rainbow next to it) and click it
  • Accept the invitation to our shared folder
  • Now click on the name of our shared folder
  • To submit your essay, click on the upload icon–it looks like a sheet of paper with a blue arrow pointing up
  • Choose your file the same way you would attach a file to an email. You can select multiple files at a time by holding CTRL (or the open apple key on a Mac) and clicking all of the files you want to add
  • When you click Open in the file-selecting dialog box, your files will upload!
  • Double-check that they’re in our shared space by looking to see what folder they’re in now. Your finished essay and retelling should be in the folder called Essay #1. If it’s not there, you can drag it there, or right-click on your file to move it to the appropriate folder
  • Make I can identify your file by its title by including your name, the assignment number, and the part number if they aren’t both in the same file. That means that if I were submitting Part 1 and Part 2 separately, my files would be called “Jody Rosen Essay 1 Part 1.doc” and “Jody Rosen Essay 1 Part 2.doc”
  • I can accept the following file types for this assignment: .doc, .docx, .odt, .rtf
  • If your file isn’t one of those formats, open your file, choose Save As, and change the file type. Even if you’re not using Word or OpenOffice, you should still be able to save your file in Rich Text Format, or .rtf.

Essay #1, blogging about our first BHS visit, and more

Essay #1:

Essay #1 is due on Monday, but I haven’t heard much about Part 2–how is it going? Please bring a paper copy of both parts of Essay #1 to class on Monday. Once i see that everyone has these materials, I will ask you to do some reflective writing about your writing process and will then provide directions for submitting your work electronically.

If you still have questions about Essay #1, please ask them! I know there must be questions, and better to be brave and ask them now than wonder and guess and have no guidance.

Blogging for homework:

At the Brooklyn Historical Society on Wednesday, I asked you to blog for homework. I’ve added some more suggestions to the instructions, so this might be more helpful:

After class, write a blog post in which you elaborate on the materials you examined in class. You might begin with your one-sentence presentation. If your item can be posted on the blog, please share the photograph; if it can’t, you might describe it for your readers. This blog post is the place to say all the smart things you observed and interpreted but didn’t have a chance to present to the class. You can reflect further on the questions of how the “big guy” in “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn” gets to know Brooklyn, and how you have, or you might think about what was missing from our exploration at BHS, what you would have liked to examine. This blog post could also be the chance for you to include other materials that you know about or seek out. Remember to include a citation for any materials you use, including the items from BHS and “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.” Choose the category Homework, and tag your post with whatever tags you think represent your work.

For those of you who missed class, please use the BHS visit 1 handout I distributed at BHS and any of the following materials to complete the assignment:

Map of the New York City subway system. 1955. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection.

Who Lives Where. Guenter Vollath. 1985. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection. (not the first map in the post)

Brooklyn and how to get to the World’s Fair. 1939. Brooklyn Historical Society Map Collection. (first map)

Dry Dock 1, 1928, v1973.5.875; Photography Collection; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Coney Island Beach, ca. 1968, v1988.12.41; Otto Dreschmeyer Brooklyn Slides Collection, V1988.012; Brooklyn Historical Society.

And more:

We will begin blogging in a rotating cycle again, so if you have any other requests or suggestions, please let me know what they are. Our next round of blogging will be geared toward preparing for the midterm exam, which will be on 3/20 in class.

Before we meet again…

There’s much to do before we meet again. Just as a reminder, I’ll list them here:

First, there are two things I should have mentioned in class but didn’t:

  1. Before our visit to the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS), every student in our class needs to complete a survey. You can find the survey here. Follow the instructions on the site. If you have any questions or problems, please get in touch with me. You’ll do another survey at the end of the semester. It’s all to gauge how much you’ve learned at BHS.
  2. Dropbox:
  • Essay #1 is due electronically on 3/11. I’ll collect the finished essay–Part 1 and Part 2–via You should each have received an invitation to join Dropbox–check your City Tech email. If you didn’t, or if you have a Dropbox account associated with a different email address and would prefer to use that, please let me know. Once you create an account, you’ll find an invitation to join our shared folder waiting for you in your Dropbox account.
  • It’s important that you understand that there are two ways to use Dropbox: you can use it exclusively on line, or you can download it to your computer. You do not need to download it. I do not require that you download it.  I promise that you can use it without downloading it. Please read those last four sentences several times out loud, with witnesses.
  • We will share a folder on Dropbox. That means that everyone in the class can see what everyone puts in the folder. I will not return work to you via Dropbox, so it will contain only your ungraded work. If you have any concerns, please let me know. Since we are the audience for our writing, it’s good that you can read your classmates’ work.
  • If you want to put your draft of your retelling in our Dropbox folder, please do. I’ll give timely feedback so that you can revise it before you get too far with Part 2 of your essay.
  • You need to work on your draft of your retelling for Essay #1. To do that, you want to make sure you really understand what kind of narrator the story has, what kind of narrator you’re switching to, and what that means for both versions of the story.
  • You should consider sharing any draft you have ready, or any questions you have, by posting to the blog, so that we can all give advice, answer questions, brainstorm, etc. Remember please that it can be difficult to share creative work, or work that’s an early draft, so let’s all be respectful of that.
  • If you haven’t finished “The Metamorphosis,” please do!


Welcome to ENG 2001: Introduction to Fiction. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with this OpenLab course site. Use the top navigation bar to explore different course materials. As the course progresses, we will add new material throughout the site, making it a rich resource for the study of fiction.

So that we can get to know each other better before our second class meeting, you will need to create an OpenLab account (you can follow these instructions to create an account, and these instructions to figure out how to access your City Tech email account), add an avatar and bio to your profile, and join our course. Remember that your username and display name can be pseudonyms, and your avatar does not need to be a picture of your face–just something that identifies you on the OpenLab. If you have any questions about the assignment, feel free to get in touch with me. If you need help on the OpenLab, you can consult the Help section–if you need more help, you can contact the OpenLab Community Team.