Monday, June 1, 2009

Exit Exam Open Thread

Open thread! Post in the comments or on your blog: any last thoughts before the final exams? Strategies for studying? Questions? Concerns? Comments?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Still more Bonus Posts

1) Using your research skills, see if you can find any information about a plant occupation that's happened recently in the United States. What connections and differences do you see to the occupations we saw in The Take?

2) In conduction your interview, are there things you noticed that could be used as evidence aside from the words the person said? Think about body language, emotions, gestures, clothing, the setting of the interview, etc. 

3) How have your thoughts about work, and your future work life, changed over the course of this class? As a result of your interview and research project?

Friday, May 15, 2009

More Bonus Posts!

Some more topics to mull over as we build to the research essays and the Exit Exam . . . . 

1) This  is a very interesting article about another kind of emotional labor, right here in NYC, with interesting connections to the idea of status and social class. What do you think? 

2) In this NY Times article that we looked at in class, the author writes, "The famous labor struggles of American history call to mind collapsing mineshafts and machine gunners posted on factory roofs, not mandatory telephone sign-offs recited in attractive, air-conditioned offices."  But many of us might not have any image in mind of  "the famous labor struggles of American history." Think about your history classes and/or do a little quick internet research: what are some famous examples of strikes or other labor struggles from U.S. history? Examples from other countries? What, if anything, did you learn about this in high school?
3) Remember your syllabus? At the top I say something about the squatting toad. Another fun little internet research project: what do you think I was talking about? What do you make of it? 

4) What important work-related issues haven't we talked about enough, that I should include the next time I teach this class? 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In-Class work with sources

Let's say your research question is: What long-term impact does emotional labor have on workers, the workplace and American culture as a whole?

Some preliminary database searches might take you to these three sources.

In the comments, answer the following questions for your source.

1) What *kind* of source are you looking at? Who is its audience?

2) Briefly summarize the source (you should be able to do this without reading the whole thing, at least for the first two).

3) What database do you think this writer used to find this? Why?

4) Do you think it will be a useful source for this writer? Why or why not?



Friday, May 8, 2009


Some folks have been wondering about making up absences, helping out your participation grade, getting extra practice on getting into the flow of writing, and so forth. One thing you can always do is additional posts. Here are some possibilities:

1) Link to a newspaper article, blog post or news story related to work or issues we've been talking about and give your reaction.

2) Leave comments! Read your colleagues' blogs, down the side of this one. Look at the comments and leave one. Especially helpful if you're in the process of working on your research and/or interview questions.

3) If you were at the budget hearing on Thursday, give your thoughts about the events and/or how budget cuts and/or tuition hikes would affect you and your thoughts about this.

Want to express thoughts to your elected officials about funding for CUNY? Follow this link: and look at the first item.

4) Did something happen at your job that relates to things we've been discussing? Tell us about it.

5) Listen to some of the interviews at Share your thoughts about the interviews and what makes Terkel a good interviewer.

6) Anything else!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Post 6: Essay 3 Questions

First a reminder: in addition to adding posts to your own blog, please scan the blogs linked along the left-hand side and leave some comments for your colleagues. Lots of interesting stuff out there to respond to.

Post 6 is the question stage of Essay #3. Be sure you've completed your brainstorming exercise when you do this post. Do the post after our class on questions (Monday May 4th or Tuesday the 5th depending on your section). After completing your post, look for my comments before completing the interview.

Your post should have two parts:

1) What is your research question(s)? In other words, what are you trying to figure out with your interview that will connect to course texts and themes? Think about our list of key terms.
You might have a few research questions: think about their relation to one another.
2) Brainstorm a list of interview questions. These are questions you will actually use in the interview. They will relate to your key terms but may not include them directly (although they might). You want to have about ten interview questions. You might include follow-ups. Keep in mind that rather than reading down your list of questions, you'll want to adjust and add questions based on what your interviewee tells you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Post #5

Remember to post your posts on your own blog, not as a comment on this one. Use comments to respond to other writer's posts.

Respond to one of these topics in any form.

1) How are you a part of the global economy? Think about a typical day: the work you do, the services you use, the products you consume. How are you connected to the issues raised in the film Mardi Gras Made in China and/or the essay "Love and Gold"? Feel free to include your personal responses to these texts as well.

2) We've read a variety of stories about work. Soon, you'll do a project centered around interviewing someone about their work. What kind of work are you interested in learning more about? Brainstorm people you know who you might like to interview. Ideally, they should have been in their area of work for a while, or have worked a variety of jobs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Post 4

Listen to this recording of Philip Levine introducing and reading his poem, "What Work Is".

Then write a post responding to one of these questions.

1) What do you think of Levine's story and poem? How do they relate to the issues and texts we've been discussing in class? To your experiences? What does the poem tell us about "what work is"?

2) Describe any text - a movie, television show, book, song - from outside our class that talks about work. What images of work does it give? What in this text interests or speaks to you? Relates to your experiences? Your hopes and fears about work? Feel free to add links, video, audio of the text if you wish.

Text of the poem:
We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying
in the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Post #3

Write a post on one of these topics. Feel free to move from question to question, and take the time and space that you need. Remember to keep reading and commenting on each other's posts. 

1) We've talked a lot about social and economic class. What does this mean to you on a personal level: how would you describe your class background, or your class as you were growing up? Rich? Poor? Working class? Middle class? What does the term you chose mean to you? How did the adults around you feel about class? Do you think there is such a thing as "working class" or "middle class" values? Have your values and/or political beliefs been shaped by class?

2) Growing up, what did you notice about gender and work? In other words, did the men you grew up around do one kind of work, and the women another? Did you grow up with ideas about what kind of work men and women should do? Has gender shaped your own goals in terms of work? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Post #2

Respond to one of these questions:

1) Many of the text we've read discuss the idea of status. Think about the communities you belong to - your family, groups of friends, neighborhoods, and/or ethnic communities. What gives someone status in each of these communities or groups? What do you think this suggests about the values of your community? Are they the same as yours? Do you aspire to status in your community - or to something else. 

2) Terkel's book was first published in 1972. In the sections we've read so far, what struck you as aspects of working life that have changed the most? What surprised you? In what ways do you think some of jobs described and working life in general have gotten better? Worse? What has stayed the same? 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Post #1

In a short post, respond to one of these topics. Don't feel the need to answer each question in order: use them to get your thoughts going. 

1) If you currently have a job, describe a day in the life. What is your routine? What does your workplace look like? How would you describe the atmosphere? What changes would you make if you could? 

2) Describe the image of work you had growing up. What kind of work did your parents (or other adults in your home) do? What did your parents or other adults in your house tell you about work? How did they talk about their own jobs? How do your ideas about work compare to theirs? 

Remember to email me the address of your blog. 

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Welcome to ENG 101, Spring 2009. This is the Course Blog - here you'll find topics, assignments and announcements for Prof. Tanenbaum's ENG101 classes. Soon, you'll find links to all of your own wonderful blogs along the left hand side.