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 ...

Beyond ‘Persepolis’

Much good work is being done with Persepolis, both in Parts 1 and 4.  Do remind students, however, that including address of both the words and the images is expected in order to recognize the nature of the work. I would like to point out that there are two other works on the PLT that you might consider for Part 1.  The first is Marguerite Abouet's work, Aya, set in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.  This is also an autobiographical work and quite ...

Camus’ ‘L’Etranger’ : a new angle

In the past year, Kamel Daoud won the Prix Goncourt for a work called The Meursault Investigation. In this work the Algerian novelist and journalist, offers what the New Yorker calls 'A tour de force reimagining of Camus's The Stranger, from the point of view of the mute Arab victims.' In the tradition of post-colonial 'talking back,' Daoud offers a 143 page account of Meursault's shooting of 'the Arab' from the point of view of the brother of the dead ...

Murakami: reading the texts, playing the game–which sends you back to the texts

There is no question that the stories of Haruki Murakami are provocative. They are also very popular with students who read them as Literature in Translation. It's hard to ignore the student appeal of short stories with titles like 'On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning' or 'The Elephant Vanishes' or 'UFO in Koshiro' or 'Super Frog Saves Tokyo.' In the two collections, After the Quake and The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami offers a wealth of material to feed the imagination, ...

Playing out feelings productively

Playing out feelings productively: Acknowledgement and Embodiment of emotions through performance As Chief Examiner for Literature and Performance, I want put in a plea for the importance of going beyond reading and discussion as ways to come to terms with texts. I suspect that many people already use some performance elements in the study of plays, and perhaps of poetry and novels, as well, so of course this is no great news to many of you. One of my most vivid ...

“Stuff your eyes with wonder.”

The title comes from Ray Bradbury, according to the blog connected to 'The Big Read,' a website from the American National Endowment for the Arts. If it's not familiar you may find some very useful (as well as delightful) materials there. A number of novels ( e.g., by Steinbeck, Erdrich, Hurston, Fitzgerald and others)  and some poetry, have been given very rich treatment with introductions to the works, a Teacher's Guide that elaborates some approaches to the text, and a Media ...