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 ...

Are you a fox or a hedgehog?

Isaiah Berlin, a significant thinker and writer of the late 20th century, made an old idea popular as a way to distinguish different kinds of other thinkers. The Greek poet Archilochus offered the idea that 'the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.' and Berlin makes good use of it. (You might go to the wikipedia entry on 'the hedgehog and the fox' for more information). As many of you are embarking either on a new school year or ...

Poetry made dynamic!

One way to get to grips with a poem is to devise different forms of delivery.  The quickest and easiest is simply to speak it or hear it out loud.  One poet described poetry  as "Speech framed for the contemplation of the mind by way of hearing...." However, combining poems with images, either still or moving or animated can really make a poem dynamic in a particular way.  Take a look at some of the videos created by students at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/poetryeverywhere/uwm/ Why not give ...

Warming up to commentary

Good jazz takes practice. Writing good commentaries about prose takes some practice as well. Take the passage below, and looking carefully at it, explore how the writer has created a 'hook' in her opening lines. If you post some ideas in the message box, or even an actual commentary, we can get a useful discussion going about an approach to commentary.  I will respond as an examiner to your postings. Chapter 1 Friday 12 March 2004 — Get the **** off the road! The gendarme pushed ...

First aid for your critical writing

First Aid for Writing: Band-aid Verbs All of us who have to produce critical writing about literature, as you do in your three written assessments, tend to fall into dull and repetitious use of verbs. Here are 10 verbs that you might add to your critical vocabulary to improve your style.  This kind of work can really lead to an better mark in the criterion that evaluates the way you express yourself -- to say nothing of how far it will put ...

Pamuk’s “Istanbul”: great for prose other than fiction

By Tuesday, August 6, 2013 , , , , 0

People are finding this work a winner for prose other than the novel or short story.  It crosses genre distinctions with ease, including travel notes, autobiography, literary criticism--and probably others. It contains a sentence that could go head to head with all others for length in the chapter, 'Huzun'  a word which describes the feeling of melancholy from a Turkish angle. Perhaps something of the Portuguese 'saudade."  Both are akin to the mode often described in the English literary tradition as "elegiac." It's not ...