Recent Posts by Hannah Tyson

Beyond Persepolis (2): ‘The Arab of the Future’

Although this work is not on the PLT, you might just want to consider pairing it with Persepolis in Part 1, and including it in Part 4, since the two works could create a more rounded view of growing up in the Middle East.  The leading character is a charming fellow with an unforgettable profile.  The work is originally in French, by Riad Sattouf, and like Persepolis, is published in two volumes with perhaps more to come. There is a fine ...

Another approach to Literature and Film

For Part 4, many of us think of linking longer works such as novels to feature films.  However, another imaginative and productive approach might be this one, suggested by a workshop participant: poetry and short videos. YouTube, in particular, provides many options for creating this kind of linkage.  For example, you might want to create an anthology of poems about animals as one of your works. Blake's 'The Tyger' always seems a success with students with its mysterious tone and hypnotic ...

Sometimes it’s fine to be ‘fresh’

Though being 'fresh' as in "Don't be fresh with me, young man, 'said his mother curtly'  is perhaps a little archaic in usage, working to get your writing to be 'fresh' is a goal worth aspiring to and will offend no one.  Our previous 3 sets of tips on writing have addressed some important and basic ways to improve the ways you present your writing, but this 4th one moves to a different but equally important level.  And it has ...

Narratives of a different kind

One of the suggested options in Part 4 is digital texts, something not many have taken up.  I'm providing a link here to 'Tailspin,' a narrative I picked up from a course described on the MLA commons.  I think you might find it interesting and usable for 2 reasons: it deals with some intergenerational issues, particularly empathy, and it raises some very interesting provocations about the nature of narrative technique, particularly the linear versus the broken, and here the combination ...

Writing tips #3: Get to the point!

Some of us (teachers and students alike) are handicapped in delivering what we want to say in the most direct way (17 words) --or to put it another way-- we all have trouble being direct (6 words). Sometimes this weakness arises from a love of words, sometimes from being inattentive, sometimes because we don't really clearly know what we mean to say. Here are some common evasions of directness, clarity and persuasiveness that often appear in IB writing. A good exercise would ...

Misfortunate misdirections: Literature in Translation

IB Examiners of components that involve works in translation become familiar with the most frequently included works.  And those works, among a few others, are Ibsen's A Doll's House, Camus' The Outsider, Kafka's The Metamorphosis and Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  What follows are some of the most common ways in which students head in less than productive directions as they choose to develop topics or responses involving these works. A Doll's House:  One of the most ...

Writing tips #2: Conventions make readers happy. . .

. . . and a happy reader (examiner) is likely to have a friendly response to what you write.  So as your final effort for 2016, the one where you are determined to 'get better' and eliminate the nasty gremlins in your writing style, give your writing an honest look at these three matters: The convention of punctuating a work's title in your essays and responses to questions. The convention of only talking about one thing at a time, a ...

4 sets of writing tips to last a lifetime

Whenever I have surveyed my students in the Literature course as to why they have chosen the course, the leading answer is 'to improve my writing.'  After that comes 'because I love reading.' So over the next months I am going to try to boil down some common problems that undermine your delivery in writing (and sometimes speaking) of what you want to say.  Some of these will be very basic and repeated errors that will make your current academic ...

‘Let us contemplate evil’

“Let us contemplate evil’ Sheridan Baker in his Practical Stylist begins one of his chapters with this invitation about ‘evil. And he offers us some evil practices that will keep you from becoming the writer you could be. So here is the second set of tips plus one. The one you really need to get rid of is the following practice: ‘emphasize on’ In idiomatic English, all you need to write or say is ‘emphasize’ followed by whatever it is that is emphasized. So ‘Fitzgerald emphasizes ...

A contemporary poet for complicated times

I’d like to recommend the poetry of Daljit Nagra as an entrance into the many complex issues that we are all living with these days, the issues of identity, multicultural life, migration. Sometimes literature can open up new avenues of thinking about our place in the world, and I have to say that Nagra’s work is appealing to me on those grounds. I also think that his energy and straightforwardness as they come through in his videos and in his poetry ...