Summer investigations: Works on the PLT (1) ‘Silence’

By Wednesday, June 21, 2017 No tags 0

“Somber, delicate, and startlingly empathetic.” ― John Updike "One of the best historical novels by anyone, ever.” ― David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks "I think about Silence, and Endo’s work more generally, all the time." ― Phil Klay, author of Redeployment and Winner of the 2014 National Book Award. CHEESE. “Silence was in the back of my mind the whole time I was working . When I got stuck, I would close my eyes and ask for Endo’s ...

Last minute hints: Commentary

Right about this time for the May session, I always make such a list for the particular group of students with whom I've spent the year. The following is a sample, based on both examining Paper 1 and my own students' performance. What I note are recurrent misconceptions and poor practices.  I've included a sample of just one below, and I find that the approaching examination date seems to clear their heads a bit, and they are ready for good ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Teaching ‘Broken April’ or ‘Leo Africanus?”

If by chance you are studying either of these texts--Broken April by Ismail Kadare or Leo Africanus by Amin Maalouf--I've two suggestions of supplementary materials that can enhance both your work with students and also with their Interactive Orals. I know that Kadare's work is the more popular of the two, and I've had both the experience of including it in Part 1 with great success and of reading Written Assignments that handle it successfully, the latter as an examiner.  The ...

Cloze exercises with a Twist

Here is a little more developed approach to cloze exercises.  I particularly like the aspect of having the students develop their own short contributions.  Many of you probably use this technique with poetry, but here is a nice adaptation to prose.  And possibly short dramatic scenes lend themselves to the same practice. A proposal for work with close reading from Nataliya Tsvetkova, teacher of the Russian A Literature course In order to ensure that students have well understood and remembered the details ...

If you’re teaching any of the Greek plays…

...I want to recommend the work of Daniel Mendelsohn, which appears in many places if you Google his name + Greek plays.  His most recent offering in the New York Review of Books: 'How Greek Drama Saved the City' confirms my sense that I can learn a very great deal from him, a great deal that I can pass on to my students and colleagues.  His very readable discussion of how the plays we often teach from this era fit ...