Summer 2017 Second Session Wrap up and Final Thoughts

Good job to all! The final presentations were well done and nicely thought out. We’re almost wrapped up for the class, with one last task, which is embedding your presentation on your blog and/or posting your paper online as well. If you give me permission (via email), I’ll post your presentation on the course website and you can also embed it on your own site.

After you do that I’ll share your presentations on the Student Showcase page on the site.

Also, I’ll respond to your papers and presentations via email. It’s up to you to do whatever you want with your blogs. You can keep them as-is, or change the title and web address and re-use them as a personal site, or just delete them: the choice is yours.

Resources: Norval Soleyn of CCNY’s Urban Mentoring and Achievement Network (UMAAN) came to speak this week. You can find his contact info and their info at their page on the CCNY website. Their first open meeting of the semester is on Thursday August 31 from 4:30-6:30 PM, tentatively planned for the NAC Building Faculty Dining Room.

Also, we had a speaker from the Ndugu/Nzinga Rites of Passage Program. Their first open meeting is scheduled for Monday August 28 at 7 PM in the NAC Building, Room TBA, but check NAC 6/132 for location info. Prof. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy (at that office) can answer questions about it. Contact them @ ndugunzinganyc [at] gmail [dot] com if you can’t make it at that time.

So, for fun, there’s one last #TBT Throwback Thursday pick for the class. I’m going with  80s New Wave group Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer” as a parting gift. The outfits are cheesy and is sounds like the 80s, but their harmony is solid and the song’s an appropriate pop ode to a season that, whether you like it or not, feels ethereal and symbolizes freedom with the long days and seemingly endless sun. It teases us and then merges seamlessly into fall before you’ve realized it. So turn it up, enjoy, maybe even post to your social media feeds. As National Public Radio’s Garrison Keillor used to say, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch”. If you’re on Twitter, I’m around there occasionally with the name @streetgriot. Look me up.


Thursday August 10: Presentations and Final Day


Congratulations and good job to everyone who presented today: April, Mahfuzur, Yari, Lin Dan, Jennifer, and Ibrahim!

Thursday’s line-up:  Brianna, Alexa, Jen, Syd, Angel

For the Thursday presenters: remember to email your presentation to me 10 AM tomorrow. This how I’ll access it. Also: if you’re using Google Slides, be sure to share your presentation with me and set it so no Google sign-in is needed.

To those going tomorrow, think about what we learned today from the first set of presenters and try to put the tips to work.


  • Remember to save presentations on USB key as PowerPoint and PDF format as a back-up.
  • Download Youtube video clips ahead of time with Keepvid (which apparently now doesn’t work on Macs), ClipConverter or a similar app. (Google “YouTube video download” for suggestions.)
    Be sure to:
  • Spellcheck your presentations: spelling errors look really bad when blown up on a big screen.
  • Use a large font (at least 20 point)
  • Avoid cluttered slides and/or too may bullet points/words
  • Use a light background and dark text/ accent colors (but avoid loud or garish colors)
  • Prepare notes on cards to use for yourself
  • Dress appropriately: you’ll be in front of the rest of your classmates. Make a good visual impression.

Uploading your presentation

I’d like to upload your PowerPoint presentations on the Student Showcase page on the site. To do that, you need to give me permission. I know I already have the presentations, but still need your formal permission (email is fine) to post publicly. It’ll help students following you.

Posting your paper

While not a requirement, consider revising your paper and then doing a blog post with it as well. You can then embed some audio-visual elements to help tell the story and if you’re particularly proud of the result, you can even share it to your own social networks. Do a thorough spellcheck and proofread and then think about photos or videos you might want to embed to help tell the story. Note that you can simply link to some references too! Here’s an example of one post I did for a music festival last year to give you a few ideas. Let me know if you post your paper online!

Finally, for fun, more wisdom from Tom Fishburne on what not to do. Also read his thinking on Powerpoint and design expanding the point in the cartoon in this blog post.

Cartoon Credit: Tom Fishburne

Cartoon Credit: Tom Fishburne

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday August 9: Presentations, Day 1


Thought for the next 2 days…

When done, email your presentation to me (either the file or link if it’s Prezi).  Also: if you’re using Google Slides, be sure to share your presentation with me or set it so no Google sign-in is needed.

The presentation line-up is as follows:

Wednesday: April, Mahfuzur, Yari, Lin Dan, Jennifer, Ibrahim

Thursday: Brianna, Alexa, Jen, Syd, Angel

You might also want to check out some of the presentations from the last class and last year on the Student Showcase page for ideas.

Presentation review:

  • Review When Things go Wrong in Public Speaking” from the coursepack.
  • Review “The Wrong Body Language” from the coursepack.
  • Review “How to Create Presentations That Don’t Suck” in the coursepack.
  • Remember to save presentations on USB key as PowerPoint and PDF format.
  • Download Youtube video clips ahead of time with Keepvid or a similar app. (Google it for suggestions.)
  • If you must use Google’s presentation program, download and save your presentations in PPT (PowerPoint) format.

Be sure to:

  • Spellcheck your presentations: spelling errors look really bad when blown up on a big screen.
  • Use a large font (at least 20 point)
  • Avoid cluttered slides and/or too may bullet points/words (remember the 6×6 rule)
  • Use a light background and dark text/ accent colors (but avoid loud or garish colors)
  • Prepare notes on cards to use for yourself
  • Dress appropriately: you’ll be in front of the rest of your classmates. Make a good visual impression.
  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • email your completed presentation to me by 10 AM the morning of your presentation
  • If you are using Google Slides, then be sure to set the privacy settings so it can be viewed without sign-in

Finally, for fun, wisdom from Tom Fishburne on what not to do:PPT_Death_cartoon

For Tuesday August 8: Presentation Prep

In the video above, poet and teacher Taylor Mali hilariously warns of the dangers of failing to proofread your work.

  • Papers are due by Midnight Eastern Standard Time tonight.
  • Remember to email it to me: hewilliams [at] ccny [dot] cuny [dot] edu. This is how I’ll read and respond. Please send as a MS Word formatted file only. Look up how to convert Google Slides files to .doc format if you don’t know.
  • Name the file like this: “firstname.lastname_final” so I know who it’s from.

Here are a few common problems we’ve seen with drafts to avoid:

  • Follow MLA format for formatting both your paper and citations closely: see the Norton Handbook and the Purdue OWL site for help.
  • Be sure to proofread your paper again after doing major revisions/ changes: you might have missed something
  • Give it a meaningful title
  • Be sure that everything is cited properly and your Works Cited page is properly formatted for MLA
  • Always use present tense when describing action in books, films, plays, etc. Do this even if it is set in the past.
  • Be sure your paper thesis is clear and near the beginning of the paper: ideally in the introduction
  • Spellcheck and proofread your paper. Spellcheck doesn’t catch all errors. You might not either, but I trust your eyes better than that of Microsoft’s robots. Better yet, ask someone (mom, dad, uncles/aunts, older brother/sister) to read it for you.

For tomorrow, we’ll spend most of the class as a workshop on presentations. To prepare:

  • Continue working on your presentation draft
  • Read “When Things Go Wrong in Public Speaking” in the coursepack starting on p. 39. Take notes on what they say to do to recover.
  • Bring whatever files you have on a USB key and save the file online in case you lose your USB key. (It happens.)

Then (re)read

  • “How to create presentations that don’t suck” from Lifehacker on good slide design by Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design (coursepack p. 31)
  • … and this post by designer Garr Reynolds on what he calls the “Zen aesthetic” (simplicity) in presentations.

Review the following:

  • Carmine Gallo’s summary of “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” on p.28 in the coursepack
  • INC Magazine‘s “The Wrong Body Language”
    Finally, some additional words of wisdom on commonly misspelled words
    from Matt Inman of The Oatmeal.

For Thursday August 3: Outlines and MLA Wrap-up

Format your existing sources they would look on as a works cited page art the end of your paper using your Norton Handbook or the resources at Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL). Print a copy of it out and bring it with you to class.

Make sure that:

  • You title it Works Cited
  • Everything is double spaced
  • Entries are in alphabetical order
  • Everything is in 12 point Times font: no bold or large type faces
  • You list the sources you have so far and the book or film you’re reviewing

Read “The Anatomy of An Essay” (p. 19) and “How Do I Back Up What I Say” (p. 20) in the coursepack.

Remember that you need four sources in addition to the book/film you’re reviewing. Go to the library and talk to a librarian if you’re short on sources. The CCNY Library is open until 5 PM today and Thursday and our closest NYPL branch is Hamilton Grange on 145th just west of Amsterdam Ave and they’re open until 7 PM today and tomorrow.

Continue working on the quote assignment that we started today in class.

Catch up on any missing blog posts from this week if you’ve missed either summarizing reviews or additional sources for your paper.

Read the assignment sheet for the final paper and see what else you have to do.


Wednesday August 2: Outlines and Quotes

Image source:

For tomorrow, read “How to Handle the Thesis Creation” (p. 29) in the yellow coursepack.

Also read the “In Text Documentation” section in the green Norton Field Guide from page 503-509 and bring it with you tomorrow.

Find 1-2 more sources related to what you’re reviewing. Read them carefully and write a 200-word post summarizing one of them. Look for either a) another review (if you don’t have 2 already) b) an interview, or c) a book or essay that talks about one of the contexts you’re analyzing in your book or film. Be sure to note the following in your post (so you can easily cite it later):

  • the source of the review
  • author
  • title.
  • summarize what the reviewer thinks of your book/film/song of choice
  • summarize points the reviewer makes about specific contexts or themes that appear in the work

Also remember that librarians are available to answer questions and help you find resources at the Reference Desk in the main CCNY Library just past the circulation desk on the right side. Stop by either before or after class tomorrow if you need help finding sources.

Try the following library databases: Communication and Mass Media Complete, Music Index, Ethnic Newswatch, Academic Search Complete, Film Literature Index, Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Literature Resource Center, Lexis Nexis Reader’s Guide Full Text &Retrospective and New York Times Historical (and Google Scholar). You can find them at the CCNY Library Page or at the NYPL webpage.

Find at least one quote you think is significant from the text/film you’re reviewing and 2-3 quotes from one of the sources you will use. Either bring the text(s) to class or copy the quotes exactly and and bring them in. The quotes should explain something important about the work or show an important point. Write down a few sentences what the significance of each quotes is.

Remember to check the schedule for your tutoring appointment and go to your appointments!

Tuesday August 1: Culture as Show Business

For tomorrow’s class:

Find 2 sources you can use for your paper from today’s library session. Look for 2 reviews from a major newspaper or magazine. Examples are the New York TimesWashington PostChicago TribuneThe Guardian (from London, UK), LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. You can also use reviews from major news and culture websites like Popmatters, Pitchfork (music), or Slate.

If you’re having trouble finding reviews, then try to find a primary source like an interview with the writer, director, or artist instead. Don’t forget that YouTube and news websites are good sources for these.

Read both reviews or interviews carefully. Select one of the articles and write an (approximately) 200-word summary and post it on your blog. Be sure to document all necessary bibliographical info so you can properly cite it. Note that with your NYPL card, you can also use all the NYPL databases from home or elsewhere. They are similar to the CCNY databases.

Continue revising your paper thesis.

Remember to check the schedule for your tutoring appointment.

Read and annotate Umberto Eco’s “Culture and Show Business” on pp. 79-83 in the coursepack with the yellow cover. You should read it at least 2-3 times, make notes, look up unfamiliar words, and underline points to ask about/things you don’t fully understand. A few questions to guide your thinking are the following:

  • What does Umberto Eco mean by “High Culture” (which he also calls “Capital C culture”) and “low culture”
  • How does the difference in types of culture affect how we interact with an event?
  • How might we apply this to different types of “texts”?

Tomorrow we’ll review the Umberto Eco essay in class.

Remember that we’re back in the NAC building in 5/109. Also remember to bring your Norton Field Guide (with the green cover).

Monday July 31: CCNY Library Research Workshop

Reminder: Monday we meet back in our original room: NAC 5/109

For Monday, Read “Summary Writing: A Main Idea Skill” (page 16) in the coursepack.

Also, Read the Wikipedia entry on your paper topic. Print it out and bring it to class: we’ll do something with it on Monday. If you don’t have access to a printer at home, be sure to go to the SEEK Computer Lab before class on Monday. Also look at what sources the Wikipedia entry uses.

Write one blog post that is a (approximately) 200-word summary of the film/ book/ play/ song/ whatever you plan to write your paper on in your own words. Use the “Summary Writing: A Main Idea Skill” to guide your summary. In this post, just summarize the subject of your review. Save the analysis for the next post.

Write a separate short blog post that expands on the work started in class on Friday by describing the particular theme or topic you plan to explore in the book/film/song you’re writing about. Also identify relevant contexts that you might want to research. So in this blog post, you should have at least on paragraph describing the topic and another describing the context(s) in your own words. If you’re still deciding, write a shorter (100-word) summary of each option in separate posts.

Finally, read “Acknowledging Sources, Avoiding Plagiarism” (pages 491-495) in the Norton Field Guide to Writing and bring the book with you next week. Focus on the things that need to be cited and why.

Just for fun, here’s something for Throwback Thursday. Scattered showers are expected over the weekend. Even though newer MCs have come on the scene, Missy Elliott still stands tall in hip hop for her lyrical flow, outsized personality, and the quality of her work. “Can’t Stand the Rain” is one of her classic songs, memorable for the following video directed by Hype Williams that had Elliott in an inflatable suit to simulate the trippy, underwater vibe of the song. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 27: Internet research workshop and paper topics


The first half of the class will be a workshop on websites and internet searching by the New York Historical Society.

We will meet in the SEEK computer lab: NAC 7/301 at 1 PM for the first half of class. Go directly there.

To prepare for tomorrow’s class:

  • Pages 52-56 in the coursepack on Google searches
  • Pages 6-12 in the coursepack: on critical reading, annotating, and “how to mark a book”
  • Review the “Analytical Methods” handout from today’s presentation (also on the Lecture Notes and Handouts page). Pay particular attention to the “Contexts” at the end.

Bring a short list of 2-3 possible topics for your research paper with you to class and think about possible contexts to analyze your topic.

  • Identify 2-3 contexts from the list for your possible research topic
  • Be ready to do some work on your possible topic in class tomorrow
  • Search the website for the CUNY library system and find the one nearest to either your home or work (hint: CCNY might not be the closest one!). Also do the same for either the New York Public, Queens, or Brooklyn Library systems depending on where you live.Write a short blog post with 1) the closest CUNY library (if it’s not City College) and 2) the closest public library that’s open on weekends (since you’ll have to do some work on weekends) that would be good places for you to work away from home. It’ll be a short post, but please use complete sentences and pay attention to spelling and grammar. Add a link to the webpage of each library in your post. Here’s how.See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday July 26: The Kitchen of Meaning

Tomorrow’s assignment is to read and annotate the Roland Barthes essay in the SEEK coursepack called “The Kitchen of Meaning”. Write a 2-300-word blog post responding to it and be ready to discuss it tomorrow in class. Be sure to give your post a good, descriptive title. You should read it at least 2-3 times, make notes, look up unfamiliar words, and underline points to ask about/things you don’t fully understand. A few questions to guide your thinking are the following:

  • What does Barthes mean by “reading” and is it reading in the same sense we usually think of the term?
  • What types of “texts” is he talking about?
  • How might we apply this to different types of “texts”?

Use the “Six Habits of Mind”, “notes toward a critical response”, and “Ground Rules: How to Annotate”, (in the coursepack) to help guide your response and please bring the coursepack with you tomorrow.

If you get stuck with the technical stuff, try the WordPress help or typing a question into Google. YouTube can also be a good source of help, such as the video below:

Also, Read “How to email a Professor” on page 9 of the coursepack and using the e-mail tips, send me an e-mail with the URL (site address) of your blog . My e-mail is hewilliams [at] ccny [dot] cuny [dot] edu.

Finish setting up the “about” page on your site with basic info about yourself and the blog. See the staff page of the course site for a model. Be sure to spellcheck, use only a headshot as a photo (WordPress lets you crop photos), and do not put any important personal info online (no birthday, for example).

Finally, bring in a few possible options for your research paper topic. You’ll have to settle on one by the end of this week. Questions? Send me an e-mail. See you tomorrow!