Recent Posts by Hannah Tyson

Some wise advice about commentary?

At least from my point of view, what Robert Scholes had to say about close reading contains some good reminders. I think we all recognize the New Critical roots of the these IB assessments, both oral and written. And though I suspect not too many of us deliver ‘the’ reading of texts, the temptation does exist and we can actualize that in various ways. I especially like his reminder about ‘codification.’** Scholes speaks of the kind of textual study ...

More (Yes) on Writing Commentaries

One of the best guides to commentary I have ever seen was produced by Theo Dombroski, then of the UWC Pearson College. I am going to provide you with three of his good hints about commentary with the hope they will give you some help when you face this exercise. These points may be ones you have overlooked or not seen from this particular angle. ‘There is no such thing as a formula for a good commentary.’ This is such good advice ...

Migration as the Subject of Literary Art

Whether in your current courses in Language and Literature, or looking forward to the upcoming Individual Oral of the revised course (first examinations 2021), it certainly appears that a matter which touches our lives and those of our students all around the world is that of migration, immigration. The combination of examining literary art with the way it addresses a global concern might work well with some of the following works. Fortunately, with the freedom from restriction to ‘prescribed lists,’ whether ...

Better and Better Essays #3

From a practicing journalist, one who has been through the IB Literature course (with an IB outcome of 7), three final hints to improve your essays. If you put into practice not only these, but the suggestions in the two previous ‘Better and Better Essays,’ you are likely to really raise your game as you face the whirlwind of essays demanded of you at the end of the IB May or November sessions. Hint #1: How to edit more ...

Better and Better Essays(#2)

'Sculpting' your paragraphs so that a reader really wants to hear what you have to say. Yes, it's the examiner's job to read whatever you write, but why not make that an inviting task?  It's probably true that when you see great blocks of print (long paragraphs) you are less enticed to read on; learning to write effective paragraphs can invite the reader in. There really is a visual dimension to a piece of writing. What do good journalists (who want to ...

Better and Better Essays (#1)

There are two situations in your Language and Literature courses where you are asked to deliver your ideas in essays: one kind of essay will let you plan, revise and present your work.  The other essay will be written under timed examination conditions. And, during your two years, you will, of course, be writing both kinds of essays.  Actually, writing a good essay is something all of us who care about writing work to master throughout our lives.  So now's ...

Literature into Film, and a Poem

Assuming you might have a bit a breathing and reflection time as the New Year begins,  you might find this article, which you can access online through the 6 free articles offered by JSTOR, relevant to what you are doing in your classroom.  We all, I think, use film versions of literary works for one purpose or another in our explorations of texts.  Some of you may currently have students offering their IOPs on cinematic adaptations of works they have ...

Which Is It?

If you have been or are going to be studying the work, L'Etranger by Albert Camus, one question that is very likely to come up as you discuss this novel is 'what is the "correct" translation into English of this title?' You might be interested to take a look at the following article from The Guardian. The issue of translation is a many-faceted one and the background to what your edition will be titled is addressed by Alice Kaplan. And if ...

Essays about Character: Analysis, Not Re-description

In your earlier years, writing about characters by re-describing them in your own words was quite acceptable, but as an IB diploma student that won't work.  First, you need to change your thinking from 'character' to 'characterization.' This last is the kind of critical thinking you need to engage in: 'how does the writer create the character' rather than 'who is this character.'  Writing about characterization is something you can usefully do in essays and oral presentations and get good ...

Digital Theatre

Following up on last month's post about the suggested option, 'Literature and Film,' which focuses on adaptations from text to film, here's another suggestion for those teaching plays in far-flung places where live theatre is not a matter of easy access. Again, this allows individual students to view the materials on their own time, and allows you to make the best use of class meeting time. A workshop participant introduced us to 'Digital Theatre Plus,' a site not only for viewing ...