I don’t understand this Writing question and need help to study.
This week, we’ll use our closing discussion thread to reflect on what we’ve learned together this summer. Be sure to touch on two topics in your 300-600 word post:
1) Offer your closing thoughts on Tropic of Orange and/or the set of poems we read by Verónica Reyes. Consider questions such as (but don’t worry about exploring all of these):
- How do you connect these texts to our course theme, and what do they add to your understanding of Los Angeles and American cities more broadly?
- Have you made a connection between this novel/poem and another material that we’ve studied this semester? Why and how do you see these materials as connected, and what are the stakes for you in making this connection?
- How do you think Tropic of Orange and/or Reyes’ poems portray the city differently than other texts and materials that we’ve encountered this summer? What do our Module 8 materials add to your understanding of a concept or problem that we’ve discussed?
- What surprised you about the way that Tropic of Orange and/or Reyes’ poems portray Los Angeles and the theme of being/becoming ‘American’?
- How do these texts challenge your ideas about Los Angeles and U.S. urban experience?
2) Offer your closing thoughts about our 8-week exploration of NYC and L.A. as American dreamscapes. Consider questions such as (but don’t worry about exploring all of these):
- How has your personal understanding of cities changed?
- When we started this course, what kinds of impressions did you have about cities?
- What did you think about NYC and L.A., specifically, when we started the course, and what new ideas or impressions do you have about these cities now?
- During our summer course, was there a particular material or “wow” moment that made you see something in a new way?
- What new questions has our course raised for you?
Sample Post 1:
Tropic of the Orange, although long, actually ended being one of my favorite novels from the course. The novel did a fantastic job illustrating the bustling nature of Los Angeles throughout its history as well as how interconnected LA is with a place like Mexico and other neighboring cities, showing it receives influences from all over. It also re-emphasized the struggle for many Mexicans or Mexican-Americans to find a place in LA, yet at the same time, made us feel that many characters in the novel had found a space through their own unique methods. Bobby through hard work, Rafaela through her family (before she had left for Mexico again), Gabriel through a job he is passionate about etc. Interestingly, reading Tropic of the Orange reminded me of the novel we read in module four, Open City, in a way. This is because they seemed to give us a different view of their respective cities than the first novels we had read (Passing and If He Hollers Let Him Go) by showing us vastly more perspectives and conversations about the place through all sorts of different people’s lenses, rather than just focusing on the narrator / main character’s view.
Regarding the course as a whole, I am sad to see it coming to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed diving deeper into the cultural history in America, especially as I believe right now was a particularly important time to educate myself on these topics in terms of the context of social justice in our nation right now. When we began the course, I viewed New York as melting pot, filled with all sorts of different people, and Los Angeles as the city of dreams, where anybody could come to make it big if they had a dream and some belief. What I didn’t know however, was how profoundly the history of these cities and their attitudes towards different cultural groups or races have shaped the way that they have developed today. I found this particularly interesting in LA: I live in San Diego and frequently drive through LA. Yet, from the lens of my car window, I never had a clue that my perception of the city was so far-off from the more complicated truth.
All in all, I’m extremely glad I took the course, and am looking forward to exploring more about these cities in the future!
Sample Post 2:
After reading Tropic of Orange, I realized the main point Karen Tei Yamashita was trying to express; Yamashita wanted to display the interconnection and interdependence between Los Angeles and Mexico. Similarly, this was done in Zoot Suit. Just as Mexican heritage shaped Mexican-Americans fight for equality in Zoot Suit, events in Mexico had a drastic impact on Los Angeles in Tropic of Orange. I was surprised how a seemingly small event in Mexico could have a tremendous effect on Los Angeles in Tropic of Orange. Both texts display the tremendous influence Mexico yields over Los Angeles. I believe the main aim of this novel was to display the importance of Mexican culture in Los Angeles. Tropic of Orange also reminded me of the intersectionality and interdependence of different ethnic communities in Open City; both texts dealt with its main characters finding their place in a bustling city, and the importance of perspective, heritage, and culture. Yet, I feel as though Yamashita’s book and Open City were significantly different; Cole’s novel recounted the effects of cultures on a city from a perspective within the US, while Tropic of Orange gave a perspective from outside the US. Yamashita’s novel, along with other texts reviewed in this course, furthered my respect for the vast cultures present in my local community. Recognizing the influence of personal heritage and culture made me realize the need for a more inclusive, diverse community for all in Los Angeles.
Prior to this course, I considered Los Angeles to be a historically anti-racist city. Depictions of Los Angeles in movies, TV, and other forms of media never portray Los Angeles as a town where minorities have historically faced racial subjugation or discriminatory policies. However, they have. In particular, Zoot Suit, Chavez Ravine, and If He Holler Let Him Go made me realize that Los Angeles was not the anti-discrimination safe haven that I thought it was. L.A. Media’s racist depictions of Mexican Americans fighting for their rights in Zoot Suit, Los Angeles’s brutal takeover of Chavez Ravine for economic pursuance, and pure social discrimination in If He Holler Let Him Go opened my eyes to the hindrances Los Angeles’ minorities have faced. Minorities in Los Angeles still feel the effects of such policies to this day.
This course has raised new questions not only about living in Los Angeles, but also my place in my community. This course has helped me confront and answer existential issues regarding my identity, community role, and life’s purpose that I failed to previously address. I would like to thank everyone involved in this course, including Professor Palau, all teacher’s assistants, and students, for their dedication.