Reading for Class (12/3/2014)

You don’t have to have this read for class, but if you’d like to get a head start, it’s an excerpt from Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Opressed.

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Homework for 12/1/2014

Following our discussion on 11/26, I’d like you all to read this short essay “What is True in Our World. A Revivial” by Imani PerryPerry.

While reading it, I would like you to think about how words are as powerful as Perry claims. What kinds of figurative language, synecdoche, and metaphors do we use to categorize people, determine who is granted certain rights, etc? (I can think of many contemporary examples for these and I think you should be able to as well). How is reading a form of translation? Also consider, especially in light of your research papers, how we make statistics “speak” and what the politics of that is.

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Homework for 11/26/2014

If you want me to make comments on your draft, email it to me before class.

Please read “Signs and Symbols” by Vladimir Nabokov for class. It’s a strange short story. So, please come with at least three questions.

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Our Online Class (Due 11/17/2014)

If you have seen my email, you know that because of technical problems, we’ve had to move our class online for today. Still, we should be able to make this productive. You have several activities today. The blog post and the emailed Works Cited page will count as participation for today’s class. Tomorrow, I’ll provide feedback, so I encourage you to check back before class on Wednesday to see what comments I’ve made. On Wednesday we’ll discuss the articles and I’ll answer questions about citations.

For today:

  1. Read “The Urban Home Away from Home” on This short article is similar to the community center topic that many of you expressed interest in for you second paper. It combines evidence from the author’s personal observation, research on “naturally occurring retirement communities,” and interviews to describe the culture of a non-traditional community center in Queens (it’s in a McDonald’s).
  2. Read “Tibetans’ (Forbidden) Special Treat” on This article, while not focusing on a community center, is similar to the topic above but also to the first topic you can choose to write about in your second paper. It links a cultural shift (largely in Queens) to international events, but creatively focuses on an important Tibetan cultural food: the momo. It incorporates research on restaurants in Queens, anthropological work on the traditional diets of Tibetans, and reporting on current events.
  3. Read “Developers of Islamic Center Try a New Strategy” on It describes a more traditional community center, albeit a controversial one: the Muslim community center that was proposed for downtown Manhattan. It highlights the struggles that a community center can have even within its own community while also discussing what services the center provides for members of that community. I encourage you to take a look at the accompanying slide show (available from the article but also from this link: slideshow). It is part of an art project on display in the center that highlights photos of children from around the world who live in the New York (many of whom live in Queens).
  4. After reading the three articles, select one of them to respond to as a response to this blog post. Discuss a question you have about the article. Your question can be about the methods used to research, about possible connections to other articles we’ve read for class or about possible implications of what you’ve read. Responses should be short, about 250 words or so.
  5. I can’t adapt my PowerPoint presentation quickly enough to post here, so we’re going to have to use some presentations that are available online. Watching a PowerPoint presentation can be exceedingly dull (there’s actual research to support this), so I just have to apologize in advance. Still, it gets the points across.First watch this presentation on in-text citations (it includes sound). NOTE: Easybib and other such services are often incorrect. So, while I don’t mind if you use them, you have to know how to cite correctly so you can make sure what you’re getting is correct and up-to-date. I often find it’s just easier to do it myself. Also, note that the Works Cited page displayed incorrectly underlines titles. They should be italicized (this is corrected in the second presentation I ask you to watch below).

    Next, watch this presentation on formatting your Works Cited page. Some of this information we’ve discussed, but this goes into detail about using the most common forms of research.

  6. Finally, create a correctly-formated Works Cited page for the three New York times articles I asked you to read. Email this to me as an attachment.
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Conference Schedule (For the rest of the semester)

Below is the conference schedule for the rest of the semester. If you miss your conference, contact me so that we can reschedule.

Nov 17 (Monday)

  1. David
  2. Tahmina
  3. Yu

Nov 19 (Wednesday)

  1. Candice
  2. Jennifer
  3. Stanely

Nov 24 (Monday)

  1. Anita
  2. Amar
  3. Giselle

Nov 26 (Wednesday)

  1. Robbie
  2. Candice
  3. (OPEN)

Dec 1 (Monday)

  1. Anita
  2. Cici
  3. Mitchell

Dec 3 (Wednesday)

  1. Sin Wai
  2. Candice
  3. Amar

Dec 8 (Monday)

  1. David
  2. Amar
  3. Jacob

Dec 10 (Wednesday)

  1. Jennifer
  2. Elana
  3. Lauren
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Writing Assignment #2 (Due 11/24/2014)


Photographs, as many of you argued in your first essay, are interpretive objects. From the conscious choices photographers make, to the social rituals that govern how pictures “should” look, to the physical limitations of technology, photographs represent only part of the scene they are often assumed to capture. In this respect, research essays are the same.

In a research essay you choose a topic and present collected data on that topic. However, the value of a research essay is derived from the theoretical lens that the author chooses to present his or her data and the interpretive conclusions that he or she makes based on that data. Because of this, research essays are similarly limited by the conscious choices researchers make, the conventions of research writing, and the physical limitations of the technology. The trick to writing a good research paper is making thoughtful choices about what to include and making sure the reader understands those choices.


Write a research essay that is roughly five pages in length and follows correct MLA guidelines for formatting and citations. The research essay should be focused on one of the topics below. You should use at least five substantive, authoritative sources taken from newspapers, magazines, books, scholarly journals, census data, etc. In some cases, your research may be general (on a particular history of immigrants or of a movement), but part of your thoughtful framing in this essay will be to narrow your focus on a particular community, ideally in Queens.

Often in courses in which you are asked to write research papers it is easy to read about a topic and produce an essay that you are relatively detached from. Sometimes, this makes it difficult to tell how “true” this data really seems. So, for this assignment, I would also like you to conduct some of your own research. If you choose your own community, you’ll have some sense of how people “on the street” feel, and if you do not choose your own community I encourage you to do some research on your own through observation and interviews to include in your paper.


  1. As we read in the article about LaForest, the international character of Queens often means that international events intimately affect the lives of its inhabitants. Immigrants to Queens may be refugees, active in politics abroad, or tensions between nations may affect how groups people who identify with those nationalities interact with each other in neighborhoods and communities. For example, Flushing is home to many recent immigrants from mainland China. They have a different language and history than the Cantonese and Taiwanese immigrants who came before them and so the Falun Gong, a religious group persecuted in mainland China, has a more active role in the community than in historically Cantonese-dominated neighborhoods such as Chinatown in Manhattan. A year ago, Dominican born Haitians in New York City protested a Dominican high-court ruling to deny citizenship to anyone born to a non-Dominican citizen prior to 1929 – affecting many of those who identify has Haitian or Dominican here in the city. New York City is home to the second-largest Jewish community, many making their homes in Queens, and they have often taken an active role in Israeli-Palestine issues.Choose a community in Queens with international ties and analyze those ties through the lens of a particular movement or event in that community.
  2. Communities often have a community center that acts as a gathering place for members, a place to the social network is formed, local news discussed, and social hierarchies established. In Jackson Heights, the restaurant The Himalayan Yak is a community center for the large Tibetan community there. In, Flushing, the Hindu Temple Society of North America serves as a central gathering spot for many followers of Ganesh.Research the history of a particular community center and the community it serves. Discuss the ways it functions, its culture and society. How do people use the center? If it is a center dedicated to a specific purpose, such as religion, what other social functions does it serve? Is the community insular or do the people at the center actively reach out to non-members in the community?
  3. As we discussed when we read the Flushing Remonstrance and Baldwin’s essay on the “Harlem Ghetto,” communities change significantly over time. Choose a community and research its history and how it has changed over time. Use census data and historical newspaper articles to identify how changing in housing, transportation, population, and community make-up have been integral to the changes in that community.

For Everyone:

A source I strongly urge you to consult (and to play around with) Social Explorer:

The application allows you to explore communities based on ethnicity, education, income, employment location, religion, nationality, and more. It also allows you to look at specific cross-sections. For example, as of 2013 in the U.S., roughly 77% of the population identifies as “white.” In 1970, 88 % of the U.S. population identified as white. In my neighborhood, in 2013 less than 40% of the population identifies as white, in 1970 it was 93%, higher than the national average. You can still see the effects of this in my neighborhood, however, even though it looks like so many “white” people have left. In 2013, among adults 75 and over, between 40-60% are white. So, the older population in my neighborhood, presumably those who have been here since 1970 and before, are disproportionally white compared to the average.

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Describe your Community — Following Baldwin (due 11/6/2014)

James Baldwin was a prominent author, essayist, poet, playwright and public intellectual in 20th century America. His works usually focus on complex personal dilemmas and how they relate to larger social structures such as the integration of African Americans.

Notes from a Native Son was published in 1955 and is composed mainly of essays that Baldwin had already published in popular periodicals. The time in Notes From a Native Son was published is significant. Written 10 years after WWII, it coincides with major changes in the demographics of New York City and the beginning of the non-violent Civil Rights movement in America. The Great Migration, in which millions of African Americans moved from the rural South to urban centers in the North East changed fundamentally the make-up of cities like New York, but so did the wave of immigration from Europe of Jewish families seeking refuge from the pograms prior to and during WWII. The granting of U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans prior to WWII also opened up a pathway for Latino families to come to New York. Now, New York has the largest populations of African American, Jewish and Hispanic people in the U.S. In the essay we read for class, Baldwin is attempting to analyze these changes from an on-the-street perspective.

For this assignment, I would like you to follow Baldwin’s considerable focus on the media and how it relates to  your own neighborhood (be it in Queens or elsewhere). Find 5 articles in local newspapers, magazines or blogs from within the past year. Paste links here so that we can all take a look. Then, underneath, type up a summary and analysis (2-4 paragraphs seems about right). This does have a thesis, you’re arguing for a particular reading of these articles, a method similar to Baldwin. Some questions you may wish to consider: What impression would someone have of your neighborhood looking at these articles? How are the articles different depending on where they are published? How do these impressions compare to your own impressions of your neighborhood? What trends do you think you might be able to explain?

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Bourdieu Summary (Due: 10/29/2014)

In your own words, post a summary of the Bourdieu passage we discussed in class. Make sure that your summary includes all of the key points that Bourdieu is making.

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Ethnography assignment 1 (Due Monday)

Your assignment this weekend is to start preparing an ethnography. Go to a public space in Queens where you can sit or stand and observe for 20-30 minutes. Write down anything and everything you see. What is the space, who is there, how do people interact etc. you never know what you might find out.

Soon, you will begin doing secondary research as well, which means you will be finding out what research others have done on the area of Queens in which you conduct your observation – so choose wisely.

Bring your notes with you to class.

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The 10 Minute Rule and My Atonement

Hi everyone,

It was an embarrassing day today.  I showed up 20 minutes late to class. I’ve never done this before and I’m unhappy about it. So, I first would like to apologize. I had a harrowing Q88 experience, but as your professor it’s my responsibility to be to class on time and prepared.

As I told the students who waited around, when I was in college there was always talk of a “10 minute rule” whenever a professor was late. This rule did not exist, but the rumors were persistent. I’m not proud to admit that I was the first person out the door as soon as we hit that 10 minute mark. As a result, I didn’t expect anyone to be in my classroom today. While I don’t see this ever happening again (I’ve been teaching for more than five years and it’s never happened, yet), you have my expressed permission to get out as soon as 10 minutes are up.

Still, there’s a few general announcements I need to make.

  1. The QC email system is apparently being updated and this is affecting when students receive my reply emails with feedback (if you sent me your rough draft). IT assures me the issue should be cleared up by this evening. Please email me tomorrow (10/16) if you have still not received comments on your draft.
  2. Speaking of which (writing of which?), the final draft is due next Wednesday 10/22.
  3. You have no reading over the weekend. I had hoped we would talk today about thesis statements and supporting your arguments with outside sources. We’ll do this on Monday. In the meantime, since you’re preparing your papers, here’s the handout we’ll use. We’ll also have in-class work, but it might be helpful to take a quick look at these. Here’s the sheet for Using Sources and here’s the sheet for Thesis Statements.
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