Lin Manuel Miranda: The Next Lion of New York

“Mr. Miranda’s journey through New York begins with that of his father, Luis A. Miranda, a political consultant who worked in Mayor Edward I. Koch’s administration and founded the nonprofit Hispanic Federation.

The elder Mr. Miranda arrived in New York from Puerto Rico at age 18 with a college degree and limited English to attend graduate school at New York University. When he moved uptown to Inwood in 1981 after graduate school — he married a fellow student, Luz Towns, who is a clinical psychologist — the neighborhood “was not in good shape,” Luis Miranda said.”

Is Nick Caraway’s description of Meyer Wolfsheim anti-Semitic? Is it an indication of Fitzgerald’s anti-Semitism (whether intentional or unintentional), or a critique of a prevailing anti-Semitism of the 1920s. Gatsby seems to hold Meyer Wolfsheim in high esteem, indicating that he may be both a business associate and friend when he refers him familiarly by his first name, Meyer. Is FSF more like Nick, more like Gatsby, or a little bit of both? The very recently published article below delves into the question:

“No surprise, then, that Jews don’t appear often in Fitzgerald’s early work. Sure, there’s the “small flat-nosed” Meyer Wolfsheim in “The Great Gatsby,” with his “tiny eyes” and “two fine growths of hair” inhabiting his nostrils, as well as “a fat Jewess, inlaid with diamonds” in “Echoes of the Jazz Age.” But I have to wonder if such obvious stereotyping constituted true animus. The caricatures of Jews propagated by the Dreyfus Affair around the turn of the century and by the German press in the nineteen-thirties were driven by pure hatred; Fitzgerald was simply reiterating a familiar physiognomic code. He was provincial but not malicious, and made similar attributions about various nationalities, including the Irish. “Jews lose clarity,” he jotted in his “Notebooks.” “They get to look like old melted candles, as if their bodies were preparing to waddle. Irish get slovenly and dirty. Anglo-Saxons get frayed and worn.” Still, we have to admit that his portrayal of Wolfsheim, if not triggered by anti-Semitism, certainly emboldens it.

Fitzgerald would have thrown up his hands at this. According to Kroll, he was stung by accusations of anti- Semitism,and maintained that Wolfsheim “fulfilled a function in the story and had nothing to do with race or religion.” This function (or part of it), interestingly enough, is precisely what riles a reader like Ron Rosenbaum. By purposefully identifying Wolfsheim with Arnold Rothstein, the gambler who fixed the 1919 World Series, Fitzgerald makes him, in Rosenbaum’s opinion, “the Jew who … violated the innocence and despoiled the purity of an iconic American institution.”* But we already knew that going in, didn’t we? Anyway, there were plenty of Jewish gangsters around in the twenties, as well as Jewish boxers. Murder, Inc., was run by Jews, and the young Meyer Lansky and Dutch Schultz were carving out territory in New York when “Gatsby” was percolating in France. It was perfectly reasonable to make a mobster Jewish. The salient fact is that Fitzgerald bought into racial and ethnic stereotypes and saw no reason to think more deeply about Jews—that is, not until he found himself writing a novel about one, the very novel that would be typed up by a maidel from the Bronx.”

From Fitzgerald and the Jews from The New Yorker (Arthur Krystal)

REVISED HW for Monday

Here is a reminder about the revised HW that will be due Monday. I recommend doing it in the following order:

A) Finish writing your draft of the ACE Paragraph #1 using Pauly and The Great Gatsby

B) Read, annotate, and answer discussion questions for Ruth’s article “Dressed to Kill: Consumption, Style, and the Gangster.” Add important Keyterms to PRELIM 2: Keyterm Catalog and quotations/notes to PRELIM 3: TGGGNRJ.

C) Write your draft of ACE Paragraph #2 using Ruth and The Great Gatsby or, if you want to write a more complex paragraph, Ruth, Pauly and The Great Gatsby

D) Watch and take notes on the Baz Luhrman adaption of The Great Gatsby. See whether or not and to what degree Lurhman emphasizes the gangster elements of the novel. If you ache time, either this weekend or another time, and especially if you think you might want to use the film adaptions in Essay !, watch the 1974 adaptation with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow to draw further comparisons/differences…

We will workhshop paragraphs in class on Monday after doing Freewrite #3.

Class Monday + Reminders + Clarification RE: Unit 1 PRELIMs/HW + Canvas & WordPress Navigation

Dear American Gangster students,

Meeting only once during the first week of the semester has many drawbacks. We don’t have the benefit of a second day to discuss how everything works, practice navigating online course components, and understand how assignments are scaffolded & recursive in the EXPO approach to the writing process before the first assignment is due. I will clarify any uncertainties or confusion in class on Monday–and attempt to do so here as well!

I. In preparation for Monday’s class

a) You should practice navigating & locating materials in both the American Gangster Canvas course and on the American Gangster website. This includes creating a profile and practicing a annotations on the website and reviewing the Syllabus/Unit I schedule on Canvas.

b) You should have started recording Keyterms in PRELIM 2 (Keyterm Catalog) and recording your notes from TGG in PRELIM 3 (TGGGNRJ).

c) For those of you who haven’t yet gotten a copy, I have uploaded to Unit 1 materials a PDF of the “Entering The Conversation,” the introductory chapter of They Say, I Say. You should think about how you’re entering an already existing conversation when applying/relating what Braudy explains about celebrity to gangsters. Use templates provided in the chapter (and in subsequent TSIS chapters) to better delineate your contributions For PRELIM I, what Braudy says is the “they say”, while what your analysis of what the quotation means and how it applies to gangsters is your your “I say.”

d) Create your American Gangster blog and send me the URL so that I can syndicate student blogs on the American Gangster website. I am happy to help you get started if you’ve never designed or set up a blog before. I also know who to put you in contact with to offer help if/when you need it!

e) It’s all right if you haven’t finished reading The Great Gatsby by Monday. The purpose of assigning the novel first is to get your impressions and insights about reading it as a literary gangster novel and interpreting Jay Gatsby as a gangster BEFORE you read what others have said. It’s best to have a sense of the plot, details, hints/understatement, clues, etc. RE: what happens in which chapters, and your own notes recorded in PRELIM 3, before looking at the evidence offered in arguments made by the secondary sources we will read in the next 2 weeks! You will be able to return to chapters you have read to reexamine them with new interpretive lenses offered by the secondary source readings and to add notes/quotations from those sources to PRELIM 3 to corroborate your ideas/interpretations of material from the novel.

f) In addition to what is listed on the Unit 1 course schedule, we will talk more about “The Elements of the Essay” (a handout in Unit 1) and the “writing process” in Expository Writing.

I would like to also build in time for Q/A–please note your questions or confusion to inquire about in class (or email me in advance of class).

2. Regarding PRELIMs

You will have noted that some preliminary writing assignments (PRELIMS) have hard deadlines while others aren’t due until the end of Unit 1 (Braudy Analysis) or, in the case of PRELIM 2 (Keyterm Catalog), until the end of the semester. If a PRELIM has a due date at the end of a unit, this means that you can complete it incrementally, and can revise as you add/go along–rather than complete it all at once.

That said, in the spirit of the revision process, once you have completed a PRELIM that has a hard deadline (like PRELIM 1 due Monday January 22), you have until the end of the unit to revise it after receiving a grade/initial comments. Thus: if you receive a 6/10 on PRELIM 1 after I read/grade it this week, you have the option to revise & resubmit it to receive more points.

*Once we have completed Unit I, you cannot go back to revise assignments from Unit.

** However, the above only replies if you turn in your initial/draft submission of a PRELIM assignment on time. Late PRELIMS still receive 1/2 credit (up to 5 points). If you turn in a PRELIM late (for no reason, i.e. not excused) and receive a 3/10, you can (and still should) revise, but revision can only result in receiving up to 5 total points.

3. Regarding Freewrites, Annotations/Discussions, and Blogs

Remember that all of our writing (brainstorming, drafting, revising, etc.) is recursive & interrelated. You can refer to your annotations or discussion posts in a Freewrite; you can transform ideas you start to develop in annotations, discussions, and Freewrites into material for PRELIMs & Essays. You can expand your Freewrites into posts for your American Gangster blog.

*What you cannot do is copy + paste an annotation into/as a Freewrite, or copy + paste a Freewrite “as is” into a blog post.

I am looking forward to our first discussion about The Great Gatsby tomorrow afternoon!
Dr. Mintler

Welcome to American Gangster!

Dear American Gangster Students,

Welcome to Expository Writing 1213/1223: American Gangster: from Jay Gatsby to Jay-Z.

Our American Gangster course will involve a combination of Canvas and WordPress. You will want to practice navigating both modes of delivery.

A) The American Gangster course syllabus, calendar/schedule, handouts, assignments, writing workshop discussions, and grades will all be housed in Canvas. The American Gangster website can be hyperlinked to and accessed from Canvas.

B) Secondary course readings, access to to annotate course readings, our Discussion Forum, Syndicated Student Blogs, and the American Gangster course blog containing course updates, links to video/film sources, links to gangsters and related stories in the news will be done on the American Gangster WordPress website.

I am looking forward to embarking on our exciting journey into the world of the American Gangster!

Dr. Mintler