Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tisha Brooks’s upcoming (Spring 2015) Af-Am Lit courses

[Related: Short descriptions of upcoming Spring 2015 courses]

ENG 205: Introduction to African American Texts
(MW 12:00 – 1:15 pm)
Professor Tisha Brooks

This survey course is designed to introduce you to a range of African American texts, including poetry, autobiography, short fiction, novels, essays, drama, as well as works from the oral tradition, such as songs, folktales, sermons and speeches. Our primary texts will span from the colonial through the contemporary period with the goal of exploring major historical and literary movements, trends, and key themes. In this course, we will also further develop our critical reading, speaking and writing skills in response to the literature that we encounter. In order to help ground our discussions and expand our exploration of African American literature beyond the text, we will use digital resources in the classroom to view videos, images of historical artifacts, photographs, art and listen to audio clips of interviews, sermons, speeches, readings of poetry and musical performances. Expect to be actively engaged in this class, which includes small and large group discussions, full class workshops, and oral presentations.

General education requirements fulfilled:
Humanities-Breath; Fine Arts and Humanities; United States Cultures-Exp; Intergroup relations

ENG 342: Movements in Af-Am Lit.: African American Travel Writing
(MW 1:30 – 2:45)
Professor Tisha Brooks

One of the major themes that persists throughout African American literature is the theme of mobility, in particular the themes of migration and travel. Yet much of our thinking and understanding of the mobility and movements of black people has focused narrowly on their captivity and forced passages. The goal of this course will be to expand our understanding of black people as travellers, rather than just as captive or imprisoned bodies. Moreover, we will consider motivations for their travel, as well as the impact of their travel within their particular historical and social contexts. Moreover, through our reading, writing and class discussions, we will seek to discover the historical and literary significance of their travel and writing. The readings in this course will span the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries and will be a mix of selected excerpts along with a handful of full-length texts. This course will be collaborative in nature, so expect to be actively engaged in discussions.

General education requirements fulfilled:
Humanities-Breath; Fine Arts and Humanities; United States Cultures-Exp; Intergroup relations

African American Literature @ SIUE

Elizabeth Cali’s upcoming (Spring 2015) Af-Am Lit courses

[Related: Short descriptions of upcoming Spring 2015 courses]

ENG 205: Introduction to African American Texts
(TR 12:30 – 1:45 pm)
Professor Elizabeth Cali

This survey course is designed to introduce you to a range of African American texts and literary traditions. Course readings will include poetry, autobiography, short fiction and essays, novels, drama, speeches, and audio and film performances. Your primary readings will include early African American literatures (from colonial period through the US Civil War), literatures of the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements, contemporary African American literatures and more. Our goals will be to identify and trace prominent traditions, themes, and debates in African American literature across vast periods of time. Further, our survey of African American literature will challenge dominant Western definitions of literature by including visual and oral traditions of Black expression as well. We will practice and share critical reading and analysis skills through class and group discussion, short presentations, and various writing assignments. Expect to be actively engaged in this class by participating in class and small group discussions, oral presentations, in-class annotations of readings, and brief in-class written reader responses.

General education requirements fulfilled:
Humanities-Breath; Fine Arts and Humanities; United States Cultures-Exp; Intergroup relations

ENG 477: Reading and Analysis of the works of Toni Morrison
(TR 3:30 – 4:45 pm)
Professor Elizabeth Cali

As an expansive study of the works of African American author and theorist, Toni Morrison, this class will explore Morrison’s works of literary criticism and theory, nonfiction and personal narrative, and her novels. We will explore Morrison’s utilization and expansion of continuing traditions, themes, and tropes in African American literature, as well as her employment of mainstream American literary conventions to highlight the convergences and conflicts between African American literatures and the broader field of American literature. In order to historically and politically contextualize our understanding of Morrison’s texts, students will conduct research pertaining to Morrison’s textual productions, publishing history, and biographical information. Students should plan to engage with a variety of forms of participation, from class discussion, to student presentations, in-class annotations, and interaction with various media forms that enhance learning about and from Morrison.

General education requirements fulfilled:
Humanities-Breath; Fine Arts and Humanities; United States Cultures-Exp; Intergroup relations

African American Literature @ SIUE

Howard Rambsy’s upcoming (Spring 2015) Af-Am Lit course

[Related: Short descriptions of upcoming Spring 2015 courses]

ENG 345: Malcolm X & Huey Freeman African American poetry and folklore
(TR 9:30 – 10:45 am)
Professor Howard Rambsy II

Racism is like a Cadillac: they make a new model every year.” --Malcolm X

Jesus was black, Ronald Reagan was the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11.” --Huey Freedman

For the official record, we’ll call this “a literature course.” On the lower frequencies, though, we know the real deal: this is an extension of study groups run by those conscious folks that started gaining steam during the late 1950s and early 1960s. We’ll study poetry, essays, rap music, and illustrated narratives (that’s a fancy way of saying “comic strips”). We’ll check out the sights and sounds of Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, and others. And if you insist, we’ll consider L-Boogie, Queen Bey, your dude Hov, and obviously Jay Electronica. We’ll also do annotation work on Rap Genius and Lit. Genius. Our main touchstones for the course, though, will be Malcolm X and Huey Freeman, you know, from The Boondocks.

General education requirements fulfilled:
Humanities-Breath; Fine Arts and Humanities; United States Cultures-Exp; Intergroup relations

African American Literature @ SIUE

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trymaine Lee's coverage of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown

From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown, journalist Trymaine Lee has put in really serious work. I had tracked his coverage of Martin and his writings on other issues, including My Brother's Keeper. A month ago, when Brown was killed, one my early thought was this: maybe people will pay attention if journalists pull a Trymaine. 

[Related: A notebook on Mike Brown and Ferguson

What follows are Lee's articles on Brown and then his writings on Martin from 2012.    

On Michael Brown and Ferugson for MSNBC
• Sept. 13: Missouri’s rapid rightward shift
• Sept. 12: Portrait of a protester in Ferguson, Missouri 
• Sept. 11: Eyewitnesses allegedly recorded right after Brown’s shooting [with Adam Howard]
• Sept. 10:  Ferguson police foil protesters’ plan, organizers declare success anyway 
• Sept. 10: Michael Brown’s family aching, one month later    
• Sept. 8: In the shadow of Brown’s killing, Ferguson strikes a new deal 
• Aug. 30: Ferguson turns protest into political power 
• Aug. 28: Audio of gunfire in Michael Brown case authenticated 
• Aug. 26: New unverified recording may shed more light on Brown shooting 
• Aug. 22: Ferguson has always been a ‘bad city for black people’ 
• Aug. 22: ACLU: Michael Brown incident report lacks key details
• Aug. 20: Attorney General Eric Holder to students: ‘I am also a black man’ 
• Aug. 20:  In Ferguson, who owns the night? 
• Aug. 18: Mistrust between cops and residents in Ferguson developed over years
• Aug. 16: Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency, curfew in Ferguson [with David Taintor]
• Aug. 16: Calm unravels in Ferguson [with Amanda Sakuma]
• Aug. 15: Police: Brown stopped because he blocked traffic [with Michele Richinick]
• Aug. 14: New witness emerges in the shooting death of Brown [with Rachel Kleinman]
• Aug. 14: Michael Brown shooting unearths Ferguson’s deeper troubles
• Aug. 13: Ferguson police use tear gas on protesters, arrest at least 2 reporters 
• Aug. 13: US attorney launches civil rights investigation into Michael Brown case 
• Aug. 13: Police shoot again following killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown 
• Aug. 13: Michael Brown shooting unearths Ferguson’s deeper troubles 
• Aug. 11: Eyewitness to Michael Brown shooting recounts his friend’s death 

On Trayvon Martin for Huffington Post
• June 26: George Zimmerman Evidence Shows Extent To Which Police Doubted Self-Defense Claim 
• June 18: George Zimmerman's Jailhouse Calls To Wife Reveal Couple's Alleged Plan To Hide Funds (AUDIO)
• June 13: Stand Your Ground Task Force, With Questions Of Bias, Urged To Amend Law
• June 12: Shellie Zimmerman Arrested: George Zimmerman's Wife Charged With Perjury
• June 11: Stand Your Ground Task Force In Florida Holds First Public Meeting
• June 1: George Zimmerman's Bond Revoked In Trayvon Martin Case
• May 24: Amazon Drops ALEC Under Pressure From Advocacy Group
• May 23: George Zimmerman's 'Cozy' Relationship With Sanford Police Questioned (WATCH)
• May 11: Marissa Alexander Sentenced: Florida Mom Who Shot At Abusive Husband Gets 20 Years In Prison
• May 9: Marissa Alexander, Mom Facing 20 Years, Shot At Abusive Husband In Anger, Prosecutor Says
• May 2: Florida Mom, Faces Mandatory 20 Years In Prison After Failed Stand-Your-Ground Defense (UPDATE)
• May 1: Richard Myers Named New Sanford Police Chief Amid Discord Between Officials, Cops [with Gene Demby]  
• April 30: George Zimmerman Defense Team Launches Social Media Campaign 
• April 27: Judge Rejects Bail Hike For George Zimmerman 
• April 13: George Zimmerman Settles In At County Jail, Buys Playing Cards And Jolly Ranchers 
• April 13: George Zimmerman's Notoriety Raises Concerns For Fair Trial [with John Rudolf]
• April 11: Zimmerman In Custody, Charged With Second-Degree Murder In Martin Case [with John Rudolf]
• April 11: Trayvon Martin Case 'A Tragedy We Are All Struggling To Understand,' Says Eric Holder
• April 9: Trayvon Martin Case: Special Prosecutor Called Off Grand Jury, Will Decide Zimmerman's Fate
• April 9: Trayvon Martin Case Spotlights Florida Town's History Of 'Sloppy' Police Work [with John Rudolf] 
• April 5: George Zimmerman Supporter Sprays 'Long Live Zimmerman' On Wall At Ohio State University 
• March 30: Trayvon Martin Case: George Zimmerman Was 'Jekyll And Hyde,' Former Co-Worker Says
• March 28: Martin Case: Police Video Shows No Blood, Bruises On George Zimmerman After Killing (Update)
• March 28: Martin Case: Police Video Shows No Blood, Bruises On George Zimmerman After Killing 
• March 27: Trayvon Martin's Family Vows To Keep Fighting Amid 'Character Assaults,' Official Leaks
• March 24: Trayvon Martin Case: Florida Man Arrested For Threatening To Kill Police Chief Bill Lee & His Family
• March 23: Trayvon Martin Case Protests Across Nation Culminate With Show Of Strength In Florida
• March 23: Trayvon Martin Killing: Taiwanese Company Makes Animated Reconstruction (VIDEO)
• March 22: Trayvon Martin Case: State Attorney Quits Investigation As State Studies 'Stand Your Ground' Law
• March 22: Bill Lee, Sanford Police Chief, Steps Down Temporarily Over Trayvon Martin Case
• March 22: Trayvon Martin Case: Police Chief Bill Lee Under Fire With 'No Confidence' Vote
• March 21: Trayvon Martin's Mother 'Cannot Eat,' While Lawyer Expresses Concerns Over Grand Jury
• March 20: Trayvon Martin Final Moments Captured During Phone Call With Teenage Girl
• March 20: Trayvon Martin Case: Justice Department To Investigate Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Florida Teen
• March 19: 'I Am Trayvon Martin' As Their Message, College Students Rally Demanding Justice
• March 17: Trayvon Martin Killing's Youngest Witness, 13, Still Can Hear The Screams
• March 16: Trayvon Martin Case: 911 Audio Released Of Teen Shot By Neighborhood Watch Captain (AUDIO)
• March 16: Trayvon Martin Case Recasts Century-Old Battle Lines For Local Activist
• March 14: Trayvon Martin Case Salts Old Wounds And Racial Tension
• March 13: Martin Case Sent To State Attorney's Office Amid Growing Tension, Questions About Police Probe
• March 12: George Zimmerman Neighbors Complained About Aggressive Tactics Before Trayvon Martin Killing
• March 9: Neighborhood Watch Captain Who Shot Trayvon Martin, Charged With Violence Before
• March 8: Trayvon Martin's Family Calls For Arrest Of Man Who Police Say Confessed To Shooting

Coverage of books, authors & special topics

Outliers & Accumulative Advantages

[Outliers Reading Group

Gladwell’s chapter “The Matthew Effect,” a title which refers to the biblical Scripture the Parable of Talents, illuminates how the talented greatly increase their talents. Biblical and popular retellings of the parable of talents often concentrate on the lesson that if talented people do not use or maximize their gifts, those gifts could be relinquished. But Gladwell, a writer always interested in providing an alternative take on familiar ideas, concentrates on the gifts talented people receive prior to attaining their most notable achievements.

Gladwell draws on a body of research from various scholars and reveals that all-star hockey players, for example, do not simply become all-stars because of their accomplishments as professional athletes. Instead, their achievements are rooted to a larger system of rewards offered early in their childhoods and which continually compound, a process known as “accumulative advantage.” To illustrate his point, Gladwell shows how, on average, young people born in the early months of a given year get a literal and significant head start over their peers who are born in later months of the same year in youth hockey and soccer leagues.

A cursory search of “accumulative advantage” on the internet connects that concept to inequality, showing how those fortunate enough to be born or situated in the right time and place receive tremendous advantages and benefits.

What do you think about the workings of accumulative advantage? Or better yet, how should we be thinking and talking about apparently hidden systems of rewards or disadvantages that exist at universities like SIUE?

The Big Smoke: "Fisticuffs"

 [The Big Smoke reading group

"Fisticuffs" closes this first section of poems in Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke, just before we leave Jack Johnson entering another phase of his life. We discover Johnson's matured identity as a fighter, particularly who he is and is not.

Johnson, now an established prize fighter, has named his left hook “Clara,” after his first love. He reveals that she stole his heart and more: "I took a train all the way to St. Louis / to get her back, just so she could take / the rest of my money & leave again."

What did you think of this language practice or moment of wordplay with Johnson naming a powerful punch after a black woman that hurt him?

--Jeremiah Carter and Howard Rambsy II 

The Big Smoke: "Hurt Business"

 [The Big Smoke reading group]

"Hurt Business", also the title of this first section of poems in the volume, features Adrian Matejka's construction of Jack Johnson's earliest brawls. We also receive an account of Johnson's earliest motivation for fighting.

In the poem, Johnson is beginning to establish himself as a larger than life hero in the making. He recalls, "Thirteen & I was already strong/ enough to toss a cotton bale out/ of the way like it was a bad idea/ & I could jump five feet backward/ from flat feet." A bale of cotton weighs about 500lbs.

Johnson clearly possessed physical strength. But based on Matejka’s presentation of the boxer in this particular poem, what alerts you to the idea that Johnson was strong minded as well?

--Jeremiah Carter and Howard Rambsy II

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Chapter 3

[Behind the Beautiful Forevers]

In chapter 3 “Sunil” of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo gives readers insight into the life of Sunil, a garbage collector in Annawadi. She discusses his home life, his upbringing in an orphanage, and his perception of other garbage collectors.

Regarding Airport Road, Boo writes “For waste-pickers, the road where air cargo was loaded and unloaded was the most profitable, and therefore competitive, part of the airport. Crammed with trucks, truck bays, overflowing dumpsters, and small food joints, the place was every week more overrun by scavengers” (85).

What idea from chapter 3 fascinated you the most? Why?

--Kacee Aldridge