Pay a visit to one of three NYC venues—Central Park Zoo, American Museum of Natural History, or the Bronx Zoo—any time before our class on Tuesday, 30 OCT. Take careful observational notes on both humans and other species you see in areas that interest you. You can spend some time with seals, for example, and focus most of your noticing time on a single-species exhibit, or you can divide your time among a number of exhibits—whatever seems most enjoyable and intriguing to you.
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Take concerted time either on-site or shortly thereafter, or both, to record what you take in on a sensory level. You are looking at how other species appear, what they look, smell, and sound like, how they react to stimuli, behavioral patterns you note, whether and in what ways they interact with visitors (if you’re at one of the two zoos), how they are displayed by the zoo or museum curatorship, your own feelings, your own reactions, and the reactions of other visitors (even your reaction to other visitors and to your own positioning within that space and vis-à-vis those around you). In short, whatever captures your attention in these contexts, depending on your interests, is worthy of notation.
Submit in hard copy in class a data sheet (two pages or more) that is a write-up of the data you have collected from your visit. This data consists in your noted observations as detailed above and, once again, should center on whatever exhibits you find interesting, problematic, or inspiring and the species you get excited about and seem to you curious, knowable, threatening, elusive, mysterious, or anything else.
Your data sheet can be hand-written or typed (preferably double-sided)—whatever is most convenient and least laborious for you! You don’t have to write in formal paragraphs—these can be notes and observations and attendant thoughts—but please be sure I can read them so we can look together at observational catalysts and interest points for you in the hopes they provide fertile ground to explore in your subsequent writing process!
You don’t have to write in complete sentences or paragraphs for this exercise. It’s a list of your notes, not an essay. You don’t have to type this if you have hand-written your notes at the museum or the zoo. Just be sure they are legible to me (I’m pretty good at reading hand writing ;)) so I can try to be helpful in thinking with you about which of your notes might become fruitful material and how it could be conceptualized for your ultimate essay.