English 1B–Reading & Composition–Literature

English 1B–Reading & Composition–Literature

Final Class Meeting: Wednesday, May 25th, 8 – 10AM

Students: Please come to the classroom by 9am, so I can return your previous work to you, and collect either or both of the final two writing assignments.

  • All student work that has been submitted will be graded and returned.
  • Annotated scripts and the experience essay on Antony & Cleopatra are due. –The assembled prompt for the Experience Essay is pasted below.*** –The Annotated Script assignment is posted below under May 9th.

(No class meeting on Monday, May 23rd.)

Students will be asked to write an essay explaining their experiences with seeing, reading and engaging with the play, with the essay structured in three parts:

Part One:  As we began:

–What expectations do/did you have?

–What do/did you look forward to — and/or dread?

–What do/did you already know about this play?

–What do/did you think will/would be challenging about the reading?

–How do/did you expect to meet those challenges?

Part Two: Midway through: Write your thoughts about reading/seeing/discussing Antony & Cleopatra:

–How did your experience evolve as you read through the script and watched either the film productions or the stage play?

–What (if anything) became interesting or enjoyable to you?

–What challenged you, and how did you deal with whatever challenged you?

Part Three: After ‘completing’ the play, write your thoughts about reading/seeing/discussing:

–How did your experience evolve as you read through the script and watched either the film productions or the stage play?

–What (if anything) became interesting or enjoyable to you?

–What challenged you, and how did you deal with whatever challenged you?

This experience essay will be due on the 25th. There are no length requirements, but you should have three sections, so at least three paragraphs.


For Wednesday, May 18th:

1. Write–in a notebook, or in a Word document that will eventually become a completed short essay–your thoughts about reading/seeing/discussing Antony & Cleopatra.

  • How did your experience evolve as you read through the script and watched either the film productions or the stage play?
  • What (if anything) became interesting to you?
  • What challenged you, and how did you deal with whatever challenged you?

This experience essay will be due on the 25th.

2. Important: Try to finish — or at least BEGIN! — the annotated script assignment posted for May 9th. The deadline for this assignment will be Wed. May 25th. We will look at some successful examples in class, and work with partners to review drafts of this important assignment.


Due Monday, May 9th:  

Annotated Script assignment:

Please read through Acts I, II & III of Antony & Cleopatra

Find a passage of roughly twenty-five lines in Acts I or II that you enjoy and/or have a clear sense about how it should be acted out. Copy those lines into the left column of this Word document: Annotated Script assignment template, and type your instructions/directions for playing the lines in the right-hand column.

  • You might need to play around with the width of the columns, and the spacing of your directions/instructions. –Feel free to write your directions by hand instead of typing them.
  • Please DO NOT simply follow the way the film production plays the lines you choose. Try to find “the play behind the script”– and direct your section of the script BETTER than the Brits!

Here is the link to the Summary & Analysis page:

The film link is below.


For Monday, May 2nd:

***Class meeting cancelled due to illness*** –Please use class time to catch up on reading, and look ahead to the assignment for Wednesday.

Please read through Acts I & II of Antony & Cleopatra

Suggestion: Open the YouTube link to watch/listen to a filmed production while reading along in another window. –A little tweaking and navigating will be required, but it’s worth setting up!


For Wednesday, April 27th:

1 — Please check out this alternative web-based resource and script. Methinks you will like it! –cw

— The Characters page is already proving to be helpful to me! –cw

2 — Please write informal responses to the following questions:

Students will be asked to write an essay explaining their experiences with seeing, reading and engaging with the play, with the essay structured in three parts:

Part One:  As we commence:

What expectations do you have?

What do you look forward to — and/or dread?

What do you already know about this play?

What do you think will be challenging about the reading?

How do you expect to meet those challenges?


For Monday, April 25th:

Please read this study guide for Antony & Cleopatra

If you’re curious, here is the script:


For Wednesday, April 20th:

Poetry Essays are due.

Poetry readings continue!

And if we have time, we’ll crack into Antony & Cleopatra.

Notes on quoting from poems:

Remember to use quotation marks for any quoted words or phrases, or entire lines or sentences.

Remember: For passages that flow through the end of lines, a slash ( / ) should be used to signify a line-break.

Remember: The line number(s) of quoted language should be
— in parentheses at the end of the sentence,
— just BEFORE the closing punctuation.

Please see the example document under the 18th.


Monday, April 18th:

  • A typed draft is due: Essay Two — two options, whose prompts are below under April 13th.

Please bring THREE COPIES.

Here is a document showing a good example of quoting from a poem, and citing line numbers:

Example–Quoting from a poem–Plath

–The completed essay will be due Wednesday the 20th.

  • Several students will present/perform their chosen poems!


Wednesday, April 13:

1 — Read the following two options for Formal Essay Two:


Essay-2-Oral Presentation of a Poem

2 — Readings/Recitations of poems


For Monday, April 11:

  1. Decide on a poem you will write about for the second formal essay. –The two options are now posted above, under April 13th. Drafts will be due Monday the 18th, and completed essays on the 20th.
  2. If you’re ready, please prepare your reading/recitation of a poem for our class!
  3. Lecture/examples: Quoting from poems


Wednesday, April 6:

Good work in class Monday! –The assignment will be carried over to this Wednesday, so if you haven’t yet selected a possible poem-to-read-to-the-class, PLEASE DO!

Please bring a print copy of the poem to class on Wednesday — and if possible, bring FOUR copies!


For Monday, April 4:

To kick off National Poetry Month: A Round-Robin of Poem Readings

Please prepare to read us a poem that you like, and that you think an audience would appreciate hearing out-loud, and that they will ‘get’ on one solid reading/recital.

  • Bring to class a print copy of the poem you choose. If you find a poem online, you might want to copy-and-paste the text of the poem into Word, so you can format it to make it easier to read.
  • Here are some good poems for your consideration, English translations of poems by the Sufi poet, Rumi:

The Breeze at Dawn

The Guesthouse

Mad Heart

The Field

I Don’t Want

Love Story

The Mirror

The Great Mystery — If the text of the poems is tiny on your screen, try ctrl+ to magnify it.


For Monday, March 28th:

Please bring to class a print copy of a “crafty” poem — i.e. a poem that uses a good amount of poetic craft.

To whatever extent you are able and willing, label the craft elements at work in the poem:

rhyme, metaphor, alliteration, repetition, imagery, symbolism, rhythm, etc.

–and maybe make a few notes about the “dramatic structure” of the poem — i.e. how it is organized, what structures its logic, including perhaps its “beginning, middle, and end”-ness.

–Poems submitted by classmates will be posted soon on the Documents and Links page. Feel free to choose from those, or find your own craft-heavy poem at or or some other purveyor of poetry.


Extra-Credit Event:Wednesday, March 16th:   11 A.M.-12 P.M., Laney Theater


“Ten solutions to improve relationships and build a better world”! Come and engage in real dialogue about race!
Sponsored by the Equity Speaker Series of Laney College

For Wednesday, March 16th:

  1. Please read the following short story, and respond using one of the response options from earlier in the semester — as well as identifying the main character, central conflict, increasing conflict, climax, and resolution. –Not as hard as it sounds!

A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin

2015Laney English 1B literature responses 2015

2. Look for a poem that you like, and that relies on clearly apparent Poetic Craft (so-called “poetic devices” or prosodies). If you can, print out a copy and bring it to class; we will look at some of these as examples of “crafty” poems to consider writing about in a post-Spring-Break formal essay.


Monday, March 14th: 

Please keep looking around at poems online and/or in books, and find a poem to nominate for our class’ reading list.

You can either bring a print copy to class, or email the instructor a link BEFORE CLASS using this format:

Poet: Maya Angelou
Title: Caged Bird

Extra-Credit opportunity Wednesday, March 9, 6-8pm, D-200:

Black Lives Matter women activists and documentary film screening

Join us for an amazing panel discussion with four women activists with Black Lives Matter and associated organizations, and documentary screening of “ We Have Nothing to Lose But Our Chains”. Co-sponsored by the Ethnic Studies Department and ASLC.


Student Success and

Student Athlete Success- What’s the difference?

Laney College, Building D , Room 200

Date: Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Time: 12-1:30

Lunch Will Be Served


For Wednesday, March 9:

Please bring a copy of a poem you like — from the links below, or from elsewhere —

along with a response identifying

1) the speaker of the poem,

2) the situation of the poem and its speaker, and

3) explaining the dramatic structure of the poem.

(Dramatic structure refers to the sub-topics of the various parts of the poem, such as the different stanzas, or at least the beginning, middle and end.)

  • If you did not submit the homework for Monday, please complete it and submit it Wednesday!


Monday, March 7: Essay One is due, due, due!

Also, please read the poems linked under March 2, and write a response to ONE of them (or one poem you find at the “Suggested reading/browsing” links) in one of the following ways:

Option 6: Write a POEM in response to the poem.

Option 9: A lot of poems can be said to make an “argument”. Write a half-page critique of the “argument” the poem makes, including how much or how little you agree with that “argument”.


Wednesday, March 2:

The first formal essay can be submitted this day, or Monday, March 7th.

Please read the following poems:

Poet: Rudyard Kipling
Title: If
Poet: Maya Angelou
Title: Caged Bird
Poet: Emily Dickenson
Title: Hope is the thing with feathers
Poet: Langston Hughes
Title: Theme for English B
Poet: e.e. cummigs
Title: Spring is like a perhaps hand

Please take a look at some poems at one of these websites. You will be asked to help build our poetry reading list over the next few weeks!

Suggested browsing/reading:



Monday, Feb. 29th: A typed, print copy of the first formal essay is due by 9:30. –Please bring an extra copy, if possible.

The Writing Center (B-260) opens at 9am, and F-170 labs open at 8am. You can print for free at both locations.


  • The Extra-Credits page has been updated to include this week’s Black History Month events, Tues, Wed & Thursday nights! –including

    Ishmael Reed — Poet, Novelist, Essayist, Playwright, Editor and Publisher

    Wednesday, February 24th 6:00pm, Laney College Forum

For Wednesday, Feb. 24:

  • Previous homework will be returned, with an attendance/homework status report.
  • If you haven’t already read BOTH of these stories, please read ‘the other one’! –Then, either write a literature response (using one of the 8 options), or build another two-column annotation table, listing important facts/evidence from the story in one column, linked to interpretive ideas in the other. Suggestion: If you do the table, focus on ONE CHARACTER–especially if you are thinking of writing about that character in the formal essay.

Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

The Displaced Person by Flannery O’Connor


Monday, Feb. 22:

(Please note: The two documents below are Word documents. You will need to click on the links, then click again on a link that opens in its own discreet page. –The stories are linked under Feb. 17, below.)

As a key step in building Essay-One-Constructing-a-Character, please bring to class a print copy of a list of “evidence” from the story you choose, and some connected interpretive ideas:

Please use a Two-Column Annotation structure, which will allow you to list important facts/evidence from the story in one column, and make a list of interpretive ideas in the other column. The concept here is to “Tie your interpretations to the text!”

EVIDENCE — What the story says. Facts. INTERPRETATIONS — What you think about the evidence.   
In this column, list some of the “facts” of the story:

what a character thinks, says, and does; how s/he looks, acts, and reacts to events and other characters.

 What does each piece of “evidence” suggest to you?
 ex. Sonny smokes in front of his older brother. (Baldwin 136) Sonny wants to show his brother that he is a grown man, and is not afraid of his brother’s judgment.
ex. Mrs. MacIntyre refers to Astor and Sulk with the “N” word. (O’Connor 199)  She disrespects them, and thinks she is superior to them. She is racist.


Thurs-Fri Feb. 18th-19th:

This play — at a theater in the basement of LaVal’s Pizza (North) — opens with pay-what-you-want previews on Thurs-Fri Feb. 18th & 19th:

The Comedy of Errors Regular-priced shows start Sat. Feb. 20. Details are at the link — Just hit the graphic above to get there.



Please note: Our Wed, Feb 17 class meeting is cancelled. The instructor is getting a root-canal procedure done on tooth #30, and this is the only time-slot available.

Please see above for an extension and additional steps built onto today’s assignment.

Assignment for Wednesday, Feb. 17:

  • Please read AT LEAST ONE of these two stories — at the speed of speech — annotating as you go with margin notes, highlighting, underlining, or other means, and…
  • Write a response using one of the options in English 1B literature responses — typed, roughly one page in length
  • The reading of either story will likely take a couple of hours. Try to kick back and enjoy this!!!

Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

The Displaced Person by Flannery O’Connor


Assignment for Wednesday, Feb. 10:

Please read the study guide page for Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors — and make a note of at least one thing you find interesting, and at least one thing you have a question about.

Assignment for Monday, Feb. 8:

Please read Puppy by George Saunders, and write a one-page response using one of the Reader Response options. (The list of options was distributed in class, and is linked as a Word doc below.)

2015Laney English 1B literature responses 2015


***FREE Documentary Film: This Changes Everything by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 5:30pm in the Laney College Theater (Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center)

This is an extra-credit opportunity!


Assignment for Wednesday, Feb. 3:


  • Please read* Salvation by Langston Hughes — The story looks a little more readable if you click on the printer icon. –Feel free to read or skip the introductory material.



Assignment for Monday, Feb. 1:

Please write a one-page response to the story The School by Donald Barthelme, answering these questions:

Do you think this is a good piece of literature? Why, or why not?


–Click on the above link to open the story in .pdf form. You may have to click the link again on a second webpage that opens up. And you may need to turn the image 90-degrees, or print it out to make it easy to read.

Literature is… “Word art,” “imagined expression,” “a picture of life couched in aesthetic language.”

–Feel free to apply other definitions of literature that you find.



This page will support the English 1B course (#21999) taught  by Chris Weidenbach in the Spring of 2016.

It will be updated soon and regularly to provide assignments, including links to most readings, as well as announcements about events and opportunities on campus or nearby.

  • No books are required to be purchased for this course.
  • The first class meeting is Monday, Jan. 25 from 9-10:50am in TH-426, and it’s important for students to attend! (We don’t just read the syllabus out-loud!)
  • The classroom is in the Theater, a.k.a. The Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center, located on the central quad. The best way to access the classroom is by taking the side stairs up to the 4th floor. Light green signs will point the way from the Theater lobby to the classroom on the first day of class.

If you have questions or need information, please contact the instructor at



Kevin Powell
“By All Means Necessary: Re-imagining Education and Teaching for America”
January 27, 2016, 11 AM, Room: E207


Below this line is information from a previous semester:



from Chris Pham: Poet’s Name: Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Title: The Chambered Nautilus 


from Enkhzaya Davaanyam:

Poet: Rudyard Kipling
Title: If
from Guanqing Hu
Poet’s name: Gary Snyder
Title: Pine tree tops
from Stephanie:
a poem/story by Dr. Seuss, called The Sneeches:


from Pilar: Poet’s name: Pablo Neruda

Title: If You Forget Me



from Shi Yun: Poet’s name: Elaine Equi
Title: Muffin of Sunsets


from Kharima Mohamed
Poet: Maya Angelou
Title: Caged Bird


from Jinglong Du
Poet’s name:Bai Ju-Yi, 772-846 AD, China
Title: The Song of Everlasting Regret


Assignments and Announcements

For Wednesday, May 20th:

Due (or Do) at 6pm: Final Exam: English 1B Final Exam Spring 15.docx

Please HAND-WRITE on notebook paper your responses to the questions on the above Word document, which pertain to the poem* that appears in the document, and the following literary works:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo:

Salvation by Langston Hughes: — Once the page opens, click “FULL VIEW” for a better reading experience!

*The poem is on the Word document. Here is a link to the poet himself reading this poem:


For Wednesday, May 13th:

Please read and respond to The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Previously submitted reading responses will be returned, with as much feedback as the instructor can muster.

We will hit some poems, too, partly as a way to review a bit for the final exam, which will be distributed toward the end of class.

* Students will have the option to write the final as a take-home exam, or to come to the classroom on Wednesday, May 20th and write it in the classroom between 6 and 8pm.

*** You are invited to send a poetry or spoken-word link to the instructor (, which will then be posted for the class. Please use the following form for your email:

Subject: English 1B poem
Your name:
Poet’s name:


For Wednesday, May 6th: ***SLIGHT CHANGE OF PLANS from what was announced in class on the 29th: 

Please read and respond to the following two stories — one a non-fiction story, and one fictional:

Scars by David Owen: 

Puppy by George Saunders:

***The group scheduled to present George Saunders’ The Puppy should plan to make your presentation this week. –If you need a week’s extension, please contact the instructor at

*** Please also dig into Paul Coehlo’s short novel The Alchemist. A response to this novel will be due May 13th instead of May 6th, but it would be good to start reading this week.  

***You are invited to send a poetry link to the instructor, which will then be posted for the class. Please use the following form for your email:

Subject: English 1B poem
Your name:
Poet’s name:

–Here’s a link sent by Chris P:

Poet’s Name: Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Title: The Chambered Nautilus

–Here’s a link sent in by Stephanie: It’s a poem/story by Dr. Seuss, called The Sneeches:

–And here’s another, sent by Pilar:

Poet’s name: Pablo Neruda
Title: If you forget me


–Another Poem, from Shi Yun:

Poet’s name: Elaine Equi
Title: Muffin of Sunsets

***And if you have time, you might want to preview the first two poems at this link, Metaphors and The Mirror by Sylvia Plath:  — but please don’t write responses to either. — These are two of the poems the instructor will present with a mini-lecture at the beginning of class. Other poem links may be added here as the week progresses.


For Wednesday, April 29th:

Please read the essay and two poems at the following links, and write (typed, 1.5-sp, handsome 11-12-pt font) a paragraph in response to each:

Do you ‘buy’ what Malcom Gladwell is ‘selling’?

Do you find this poem easy to read aloud? –Where is it a ‘smooth read’? Where does it pose difficulties in how to say it/recite it?

Try writing a prose paraphrase of the poetic expression of this poem:


For Wed. April 2nd:

Please read and respond to the story Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut (–you will need to click on the “Page 2” link to get the second half of the story), and to four poems by Robert Frost:

The Road Not Taken


These literary works will be discussed in class, led by their respective presentation groups.

For the Vonnegut story, let’s use this list of questions — choose one or two to respond to, and build a roughly one-page response: –Please use the question number to show which question you are responding to.

For Frost, please respond as you wish to EACH OF THE FOUR POEMS, including mentioning which one you like best, and why.

Questions? Email the instructor:


For Wednesday, April 15th:

Please read and respond to the stories by Joyce Carol Oates and David Sedaris. (These groups will present.)

The links are below. Print them out and read them so you have annotated copies to bring to class. Also type up a response. Each response should be one page, typed, 1.5-spaced, 12-pt. font. Choose one of the options from the homework handout.


Sedaris — better link!:

Also, please be sure you have read the conceptual pages of Chapter 5 of Reading and Writing About Literature, pages 72-75. In your responses, feel free to use some of these concepts.

Please bring that textbook, as well as Knorr’s The River Sings, to class this Wednesday. We will make use of both, if possible.

We will be engaging in a class discussion about these stories. This is your best opportunity to gain participation points. I will be formally giving points to all who participate. Participation is a big part of your grade. Be prepared with questions, thoughts, and opinions. Annotated texts and your homework should help with that.

Interesting reads ahead in the coming weeks. I hope you will enjoy a few.

Suggestion: Read the above link for Sadaris while listening to this recorded reading:



Below this line is information from Spring 2014


For Wed. May 14: Please complete your reading of the Macbeth script.

The essay about Macbeth is due:



Our final class meeting will include a last discussion of the play, using students’ selections from their essays.


For Wed. May 7: Please read through Acts II and III of Macbeth. 

Also please write a brief description of how a particular scene or speech could possibly be produced for film or stage. (Half a page would work here, depending on your description. One page max.)

A print copy of Acts IV and V will be distributed in class.


For Wednesday, April 30:

Please read through Act I of Macbeth. Here is a good, readable website containing the entire text, scene by scene, or with the whole play on one page: Remember: We are reading to discover the play behind the script. If you get confused by a section of spoken text, read around the confusing language to see if something unspoken might help you make sense of what is being said.

Please WRITE a paraphrase of a compelling speech spoken by one of the main characters. This should be a speech of 10-20 lines. Put it into your own words. You can use the line-breaks, or just write it in a paragraph form. Feel free to use the No Fear paraphrase as a guide, but don’t settle for their language choices, or copy them.

A print copy of Acts II and III will be distributed in class.

Please try to have seen at least two film versions of Macbeth by this date.

Orson Welles’ 1948 film:

Rupert Goold’s 2010 filmed stage production:

Here is the third–and last–formal essay prompt. You can write stages one and two as soon as you’re ready, but the typed draft is not due until May 7th. The essay is truly due May 14th.




Click on this link for a list of Earth Week Events @ Laney College April 22-25th (Tuesday-Friday)


*** Thursday, April 24: Peralta Ecology Festival, 11 am – 2 pm at the Channel of the Estuary near Laney College. Attend and write a one-page response for extra credit.


Wednesday, April 23: Please try to have seen at least two film versions of Macbeth by this date.


Wednesday, April 16: No class meeting. The week of April 14-18th is Peralta’s Spring Break.


Wednesday, April 9:  

Macbeth film screening. Screening it together and discussing a few key passages is very important for getting off to a good start with the play. Parts of a few different films will be shown, which we can then refer to in common as we go through the play. The instructor will provide some movie snacks for the main film’s screening.

* The Poetry Craft Analysis essay is due–one print copy. Before or as you edit and proofread, please review the instructor’s feedback on Essay 1, and refer to this list of instructor feedback codes (.pdf) / instructor feedback codes (Word document–save, then open).

* Please first WATCH, then READ Act I of Macbeth using the following links:

Rupert Goold’s filmed stage production, starring Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood: — Act I ends at the 34:00 mark.

a good, readable website containing the entire text, scene by scene, or with the whole play on one page:

You might find it helpful to play the video while reading the script. With two windows open, you can have the video running along with the text; or you can hear the video while you read.

When you’re ready to dig into the script, here are some suggestions:

1. See the mostly measured, ten-syllable lines? –written often in iambic pentameter? –speaking in similes and metaphors drenched with symbolic power? It’s poetry, so we’re best off reading for sentences, not poetic lines. Read the sentences as normally as possible, but out-loud (or ‘out-loud-in-your-mind’) as much as possible.

2. Breathe a little life into your reading. The play has lots of word-candy and ‘wizardry/witchcraft’. Even when reading alone, try to have a little fun with it, doing different voices for Macbeth and Banquo maybe. ‘Ham it up’ a little. Get a little dramatic — it’s okay, it’s drama! Read with a friend or relative. Read to your pet! Get all weird when you read the weird sisters’ speeches…

3. Take your time with Macbeth’s speeches. He is worried and unsure for sure, so his high-pressured lines are often spoken while he’s freaking out or trying to make up his mind.


Wednesday, April 2: The 6pm forum re: Janet Napolitano has been cancelled. Our first half of class will be in the classroom as usual. The forum scheduled from Noon-2pm will be in the Laney Forum, between the Library and the B building.*

Assignment: Please review and annotate at least one classmate’s Poetry Craft Analysis essay, preparing to meet briefly and exchange ideas to make the essay as complete and successful as possible. The instructor will check for (credit/no-credit) helpful annotations on the draft copies during the second half of our class meeting. The essay’s revised completion/submission date has been moved back to April 9th.

* If you’re on campus, check out the front-page story as well as Xochil Frausto’s opinion piece on page two of the March 27th Laney Tower newspaper, which is available in newsstands in the Student Center and the college Library. (It has not yet been made available online. If/When I see it, I’ll post it. -cw)

Look ahead:

IF YOU WISH, look ahead to our engagement with William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth by checking out one of the following pages:

a decent study guide: — a seven-minute piece of a Simpsons episode based on the plot of Macbeth — the first 22 seconds of the clip might be confusing; the good stuff starts with Marge saying, “Lisa, did I ever tell you about the great woman…?” –Warning: It includes some blunt cartoon violence, well beyond The Simpsons’ norm. Just sayin’.


Suggestions for using the study guide page:

1. Knowing the plot summary is not cheating. Go ahead! (Not required.)

2. See that somewhat big list of characters? Don’t worry about memorizing who’s who. This play is about Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. We’ll divide the list of characters into groupings that help us stay focused on the conflicts in the story the play delivers.


Look ahead: Thurs-Sat, March 27th, 28th and 29th: Paul Flores’ big hit play PLACAS: The Most Dangerous Tattoo featuring Clashero, Ric Salinas comes to the Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center. Tickets range from $12-40 for this limited run. More detailed ticket info coming soon.

Look ahead: Thursday – Saturday, March 20th, 21st, & 22nd: The Fusion Theatre Project presents its third draft of its first original collectively written work,The 51-0hz, five ten-minute tales inspired by Oakland. These five fairy tales written by six college-aged women are fiery, humorous, important and relevant. All shows at 7pm. FREE admission!!! –* Extra-credit available for 1B students who attend and write a one-page review (no summary, please).

For Wednesday, March 19th:

Please read the following poems at least twice, out-loud if possible, and look/listen for TWO that particularly grab your attention. For those two, please write at least a half a page for each, identifying as much poetic activity as you can. Look for rhymes, alliteration, rhythms, metaphors, similes, evocative imagery, repetition/parallel phrasing, symbolism–and identify who is supposedly speaking the poem, and what situation is apparent. If you prefer, you could print copies of the two poems, and label the poetic devices right on that copy. * N-word warning — If you want to skip it, go ahead.


For Wednesday, March 12:

1. Please read and annotate Chuck D’s Afterword from the Yale Anthology of Rap, and come to class ready to talk about Big Art!

2. Read/Send: Please check out, and find one poem that you’d like to nominate for the class’ reading list by sending the link/URL/webpage address to the instructor at –Please be sure your name is in the message, too, especially if your email address is something mysterious like


For Wednesday, March 5th:

1. The first formal essay (print copy) is due. (The prompt is under Feb. 26.)

2. Please read the poems linked at the top of the Documents & Links page, and write one-sentence responses to the THREE you like best. –Do not spend any time summarizing the poem; jump right into your interpretive and responsive ideas.

Extra-Credit Opportunity:

 film promo poster
Thursday, Feb. 27th: Inequality for All
film screening and discussion
Free admission
Time: 7pm film, 9pm discussion
Place: Room D – 200 on the Laney College campus
From Roger Ebert’s review: “Even a charm monster like George Clooney probably couldn’t make “Inequality for All,” a documentary that is basically a 90-minute how-and-why dissection of the decline of our country’s middle class, any more persuasive and intermittently humorous than this popular professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.”


Want a FREE taste of live Shakespeare?

For Wednesday, Feb. 26:

1. Please read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, on which we will begin class with a short-answer quiz.

2. Please write–and type–a draft of Essay One–Constructing a Character. The draft will be reviewed by classmates, and possibly by the instructor, after which students can decide whether to submit it on this night, or revise/edit it for submission on March 5th. This ‘handout’ from the UNC Writing Center may be helpful:


Wed. Feb. 19:

Read: Please read The Displaced Person by Flannery O’Connor, on which we will begin class with a short-answer quiz. This link is to a .pdf file. It takes a minute to load. The story is also on reserve at the Laney library’s Textbooks desk under the instructor’s last name “Weidenbach”/”The Displaced Person”. Laney’s library also has a few copies of  The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor, but the library will be closed until Tuesday at 8am. The book is also widely available in new and used bookstores and other libraries, and is a literary powerhouse!

Annotate: As you read, it is highly recommended that you track descriptions, dialogue, actions and choices the main characters make, and write some brief notes on how these details reveal various aspects of the characters.

* Slight change of plans: Since the reading is lengthy, and the link was posted late, the other reading/viewing assigned in class on the 12th will be postponed. Still, the other links are below, and the instructor recommends that you take a look if time allows, and if you want to write a quality response to one or two of them, you can earn extra homework credits. Responses should be about one page in length, with very minimal summary, or none.

For further reading/viewing (related to Baldwin and Black History:

Dr. Cornel West: Harvard Business School African American Student Union Conference 2000 – Key Note Address — 2/29/2000

Michelle Alexander: Locked Out of America — December 20, 2013

Most of You Have No Idea What Martin Luther King Actually Did, by Hamden Rice


For Wednesday, Feb. 12:

Please read the story Sonny’s Blues — by James Baldwin — and be ready for a quiz at the beginning of class. This story will take a couple of hours to read, so feel free to read it in a couple of sessions. And, of course, annotate as ye see fit! Our focus will be on the two main characters: Sonny and his brother, the narrator. What evidence in the text informs you about who the main characters are? This is a good time to use a two-column system tracking evidence in one column, and the significance of each piece of evidence in the other column. –This system will keep your evidence tied to your interpretive inferences.

If you find a better link to this story, please email it to the instructor at

Here is the link to the plot diagram and that crazy animated video version of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. (Thank you, Esra!)

Black History Month events at Laney (click to enlarge):

Laney Black History Month Events


For Wednesday, Feb. 5:

1. Please read the following two classics of American short fiction, and be ready for reading quizzes on both:

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

To Build a Fire by Jack London

–Reminder: Literary fiction is best read at the speed of human speech. Taking this ‘extra’ time will allow the stories to unfold at the pace the writers intended, and allow you the reader a good chance to see the stories and their characters in their fullest sense.

2. In a notebook, write a few notes on each story, focusing on what you identify as 1) the primary conflict in the stories, 2) the high-point of conflict, and 3) the sense of resolution that brings the stories to a close.

3. Also consider the main characters/protagonists of the two stories, and be prepared to discuss them. What evidence in the texts informs you about who the main characters are, and what they want? Do the main characters seem complex, or simplistic? Do they change as their stories develop? If they do, they can be called “dynamic”; if not, then we could label them “static”.

FYI: OWL pages on fiction terms and concepts:

For Wednesday, Jan. 29:

1. Please read the story Salvation

by Langston Hughes, and write a one-page* response focusing on what the story means to you, or how you connect or relate to the situation the story presents. (Don’t worry about what you SHOULD write; just do it the way that feels right.)* Handwritten, single-spaced is fine; typed, 1.5-spaced using 11- or 12-pt font is best. Quality trumps quantity. “One page” is approximate–but please don’t go far beyond one page, because the instructor has to find time to read all of these responses!

2. Also please read the story A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin and be ready for a brief quiz–you might want to read the story twice and/or read it a day or two before class so some of the details will not have faded by the time you come to class.