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Current Announcements (2)

Grades are posted

27 December 2023

Course grades have been posted to CUNYfirst. Have a great break and a happy new year!

Link to My Grades page

Grading page updated

26 December 2023

The grading page has been updated with all papers I have received and a provisional grade for the course. If there is an assignment or revision you’re sure you submitted but that isn’t reflected on the grading page, please contact me immediately.

Official grades will be posted to CUNYfirst on Wednesday.

I was very impressed by a lot of the work for this semester—there were some seriously thoughtful essays and presentations, and for many of you the effort really came through. Thanks for your hard work in your assignments as well as in our class discussions. I hope you have a safe and happy winter break, and that you are successful in your college goals!

Link to My Grades page


Grading update

17 December 2023

I’ve caught up on grading and have updated the My Grades page with everything I believe I have received so far. Please review your current standing and email me immediately if there’s something you’ve submitted that’s showing up as ungraded.

Missing assignments, including the Weekly Responses, the Critical Thinking Write-ups, and the in-class worksheets can be submitted to me up through Monday, December 25. After that I will accept no further assignments.

If you missed one of the in-class worksheets, you can take them online. These are “Veni Vidi Vici,” “Umberto Eco,” “The Grudge,” and “Alexander and Bucephalas.” The link for the online worksheets is:

Link to My Grades page

Some notes about the Analysis Write-up (due Dec. 11)

11 December 2023

I just wanted to pass along some notes about the Analysis Write-up due today, Dec. 11.

One thing that’s important to remember is to try to be specific. This isn’t about trying to figure out the author’s general philosophy or advice about life so much as you stating what you believe the author was trying to say about the specific topics related to this document (remember your topics: the key individuals, the contexts, the event, the text).

Start with an introduction where you say what you think the overall intent of the author was, then answer the five analysis questions.

(1) Why was it written? Be specific here especially, because the temptation is to be vague. There’s also not necessarily just one answer. For “Alexander and Bucephalas,” a lot of you correctly pointed out the author was praising young Alexander’s courage and his remarkable ability to elicit the admiration of others; but the author’s message was also that Alexander saw what others did not and plan in response. In this case, it was that the horse was unruly because he was afraid of his shadow, something Alexander could do something about.

(2) What does it reveal about the time and place? This relates to your contexts. For “Alexander and Bucephalas,” the context is Macedonia (geographically), and also Alexander’s career (chronologically). The story reflects on both. As most of you said, it tells us horses were of significance and taming a horse was an admired skill; it also hints at Alexander’s relationship with his father, and the fact that Alexander would one day be famous enough that stories about his prodigious youth would be told.

(3) What’s missing? Look for what’s relevant to the story that the author is not mentioning. For “Alexander and Bucephalas,” one thing that might be relevant was how experienced Alexander was with horses already, for example. Try to stick to the part of the story you are in. You might be curious about what happens next, but for this part I want you to focus on what isn’t stated in this part of the story, and why.

(4) What passage stands out? This is subjective, but it’s often something that the author meant to stand out. For “Alexander and Bucephalas,” many of you pointed to the last line, where Philip told his son he was greater than mere Macedonia. This was part of what the author was trying to emphasize: that Alexander’s exceptional perceptiveness and courage took him to the next level as a king and general, beyond his capable but barbarian father.

(5) What would you ask? This might be about the author’s intent or what was missing, or you could look for the characters’ point of view on these events. As with question 3, try to stick to this part of the story and what it meant to the characters and the author.

Good luck! Email me with any questions or issues.

Link to Critical Thinking Project page

Making up missing assignments

8 December 2023

Here’s a note about how to resolve missing assignments to improve your overall course grade.

For the weekly responses, you can post retroactively on the responses page and I’ll give you credit for the post, marked down for being late. A check instead of an ex can boost your grades significantly, so go ahead and take care of any that you’ve missed.

The weekly response for Week 2 was the DAACs summary report. If you are missing that, you just need to log into DAACS, complete the SRL and Writing modules if you have not done so, and download and email me the PDF summary report.

For the in-class worksheets (“Veni Vidi Vici,” “Umberto Eco,” “The Grudge,” and “Alexander and Bucephalas”), I’ve set up a web page so you can complete those online. The link is here.

For the Write-Ups (Summary Write-Up, Annotated Bibliography, and the Analysis Write-Up due Dec. 11), just complete the assignment according to the requirements on the Critical Thinking Project page and email them to me as soon as you can.

The Ultimate Deadline is Dec. 25. I will accept no assignment after that date. Email me with any questions!

Link to Worksheet Online Makeup page

Analysis Write-up prompts

6 December 2023

As discussed in class, here's a reminder of the questions you need to explore in the Analysis Write-up due Monday, Dec. 11.

First write a brief introduction that states what you think the most important meaning or intent of your document is. Then discuss your answers to the following questions:

  1. In your opinion, why was this document written?
    • What do we know about the impetus for this document?
    • What prompted the author to write it? What can we infer about the author’s intent?
    • Often there is a mundane reason and an intent. A speech might be composed because there was an event that required one; a story might be written because there was rent to pay. But these particular words were written because the author had something to say. What was it?
  2. What does it reveal about the society and time period in which it was created?
    • Bring together what you know from your work so far in this document and try to get at the real meat of what this document tells us—not just about the author, but also about the author’s society and his or her relationship to it (was she a part of the mainstream, or a rebel?).
    • One way of looking at this would be to ask yourself whether the same document could have been written 10 years before, or 10 years after. Why not—what changed?
    • Relate your interpretation of the document to the contexts you found when you were looking for topics for your bibliography. What does it hint about the larger situation the story takes place in?
  3. What’s missing?
    • What point of view is left out? Was it intentional? How would that change the picture presented by the author?
    • One way of looking at this would be: How would this storu be different if it were told by someone else?
  4. What passage stands out the most?
    • Which sentence or passage did you react most strongly to—out of admiration, revulsion, or strong agreement or disagreement?
    • Think about what caused that reaction: Was is the content alone, or where you affected by the differences between the author’s cultural values or experiences and your own?
  5. What would you ask?
    • If you had a chance to interview the author or the key individuals in the story, what would you want to know?

Link to Essays page

Welcome to Week 15!

3 December 2023

A modern statue honoring Herodotus.

This week we’re talking about the very last assignment—the Analysis Write-up. What is the author of your document trying to say? What would help us get a better handle on how to understand the author’s intent?

Remember that the Annotated Bibliography is due today (Monday). Look carefully through the assignment, notes, and suggestions I’ve posted on the Critical Thinking Project page on the course website. It’s all on the Bibliography tab, and I also emailed about it last week. Please send me an email if you get stuck or if you have any questions!

Once it’s done, email your document as an attachment or shared link to

Link to Schedule page

Bibliography assignment

1 December 2023

I’ve updated the Annotated Bibliography tab on the Critical Thinking project page to make it clearer what’s needed for the assignment. That page also has the relevant slides from what we discussed this week. Any questions or problems, please let me know.

Process for doing the Annotated Bibliography:

  1. Choose topics that relate to your document that relate to your document. As discussed in class, these tend to involve:
    • The individuals
    • The context(s)
    • The event
    • The text
  2. Search on these topics on the Lehman Library website using OneSearch and find three digital resources that would help you research your document.
    • These can be books, book chapters, and peer-reviewed journal articles. You can filter for these in OneSearch.
    • Include only secondary sources (scholars writing about primary sources). No tertiary sources are allowed (textbooks, encyclopedia entries, etc.)
    • To check for the relevance of a resource to your document, look through the summary, table of context, chapter titles, and subject heads. You can also check the index to see if your topics are covered.
  3. Copy the citation for this book, book chapter, or article from OneSearch to your document.
  4. Write an annotation paragraph under your citation. Your annotations should:
    • Start with which of the topics you chose for your document this work relates to
    • Include specific subjects covered in the book/article that bear on the research subject
    • A brief statement of your opinion of the work’s potential value
      • What part of the research subject this book/article helps explain or shed light on
      • Potential limitations or problems
  5. Email your Word, PDF, or shared Docs file to me at

Link to Critical Thinking Project page

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