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 ...

Introductions (Part 3): Nailing it in Paper 2

Having looked at techniques for introductions for Commentaries and Written Assignments (Parts 1 and 2 of this series), it's time to look at what you can do to provide winning introductions to your Paper 2 essays. Here again, as with the Commentary, we're working with a timed exam.  That means you need to have some strategies in place so you don't have to agonize too much over the preliminaries to this portion of your essay and can instead spend the fast-disappearing  ...

Thinking about Metaphor for a Category 3 Extended Essay

It's a 'literary device,' right?  A comparison without using 'as' or 'like?'  That's what you've learned about metaphor as you have moved up from middle school reading and it's very likely you can spot them, count them and talk about them when the occasion (an essay? a commentary?) demands. But actually there are whole books written about metaphor as an important element of all human thought, used not just in literature but in many academic disciplines, in many facets of daily ...

Writing about humor and irony

For years scholars have puzzled over precise definitions and descriptions of humor and irony.  If you're planning to do a presentation on either of these, or write an essay about them in a literary work, you may find this power point helpful in sorting out your definitions--and we all know that without some clear definitions--or as clear as possible--what you say is not likely to be very successful. Very often students designate things as 'irony' or 'ironical' that are simply ...

Writing Successful Reflective Statements

Many students are passing up the chance for what is really an easy way to plug in 3 marks for your Written Assignment. If you do more than one for any given work (and the RS and WA must be on the same work, remember), choose the one that best shows the following: That you learned things that will help you read or re-read the literary work with a sense of who wrote it, when and where they wrote it. Ibsen did ...

A rich (if variable) resource to enrich the conversation

By Wednesday, August 12, 2015 , , 0

If you don't know Maria Popova's weekly (on Sunday) blog--a sometimes rich and varied one--'Brain Pickings'--you might check it out or even subscribe. The content ranges from various ideas about writing--both yours and your students--to personal development to great illustrators, thinkers, and very often, remarkable childrens' literature, old favorites and new discoveries.  I can't say I love it all every week, (nor do I much like its title) but I occasonally find some stimulation and good ideas for reading and teaching. ...

Exploring Literature and Performance

Alas, poor Yorick......etc. Since the summer provides teachers at least some little time to think and reflect and also to explore, I wonder if you might look into the third course in Group 1 which is 'Literature and Performance.'  This is has proven an apt offering for SL students, with plenty of activities that provide an opportunity to improve skills that are of long term value.  And the  demands are such that any Language teacher who has taught plays as a ...

Good thinking in a complex context

I've used this work in class and I keep returning to its central idea, which is essentialized in the English translation of the title of Amin Maalouf's Identites meurtrieres.  The English title also is given a subtitle: In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong. This is a set of reflections worth attending to.  Maalouf explains his intentions in these pages by saying "I want to try to understand why so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of ...