Showing posts from August, 2013

Joseph and Charles as Monsters in Sheridan's "The School for Scandal."

Strictures on The School for Scandal (1777) from The London Magazine (April 1783), pp. 169-172. A Play composed by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Charles , to whom the affections of the audience are chiefly conciliated, is a young profligate spark of fashion, without Ĺ“conomy, temperance, or consideration; who having spent his all, minds nothing but how to get more, without the vulgar means of industry; who cares not how much he squanders of what is not his own, provided he can be a rogue in an honest way, or possess another's property without risquing his neck; in short, he is one of thole modern fine gentlemen, who devote their whole substance, time, and talents, alternately, to wine, gambling, and gallantry. Surely a character of this kind, endowed with so many agreeable qualities as meet in him, is the very worst spectacle our youth can behold. From such polluted and enchanting scenes the increasing profligacy of the nation mull originate. What can be a grosser pros

Use of Connectives and Transitions in Composition

Connected Brain Zones § 371. IV. The use of connectives . The words of connection and transition between clauses, members, and sentences, may be made, according to the skill or the awkwardness of the writer, sources of strength or of weakness. It is always a source of weakness for two prepositions, having different antecedents, to be co-ordinated in connection with a common subsequent . This mode of expression has been called "the splitting of particles;" a name not very applicable to it as it occurs in English construction. The proper name for it is the one implied in the italicized words above. The following is an example. "Though personally unknown to, I have always been an admirer of, Mr. Calhoun." The way to correct it is to complete the first clause, and let the last, if either, be elliptic; thus: "Though personally unknown to Mr. Calhoun, I have always admired him," or "been an admirer of him." It is pro

The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph

Order of Sentences in a Paragraph Classic Advice on the construction of a paragraph ... § 365. III. The arrangement of sentences in a paragraph .*  In every extended paragraph the bearing of every sentence upon what precedes should be explicit and unmistakable. This is principally effected by the use of conjunctions and contextual phrases, the rules for which will be given in the next division of the chapter. § 366. When several consecutive sentences develop or illustrate the same idea, they should, as far as possible, be formed alike. This is called the rule of Parallel Construction. § 367. The opening sentence of a paragraph, unless obviously preparatory, should indicate with some prominence the topic of the paragraph. § 368. In the course of the paragraph there should occur no dislocations , that is, sudden turns of thought, such as would create confusion. But the entire paragraph should possess unity, having a definite purpose, and avoiding all dig

Bonnell's list of topics for debate in class (1867)

In A Manual of the Art of Prose Composition: For the Use of Colleges and Schools (1867), John Mitchell Bonnell explained the value of Extemporaneous Composition;   Debating by the Class; and proposed a list of topics for debate. This is an extract from his book. The following list presents a few of the questions that afford good fields for debate. Does wealth exert more influence than intelligence? Should a criminal be capitally condemned on circumstantial evidence? Are banks more beneficial than injurious? Ought military schools to be encouraged? Should colleges be endowed? Did the French revolution advance the cause of liberty in Europe? Is there any real danger of the over-population of the globe? Is country life more favourable to the cultivation of virtue than life in a city? Is history a more useful study than biography? Is ambition more destructive of personal happiness than avarice? Is it the duty of good men

On Extemporaneous Composition and Debating by the Class

In A Manual of the Art of Prose Composition: For the Use of Colleges and Schools (1867), John Mitchell Bonnell explained the value of Extemporaneous Composition;   Debating by the Class; and proposed a list of topics for debate. This is an an extract from his book. EXTEMPORANEOUS COMPOSITION. § 489. No course of instruction and discipline in the Art of Prose Composition would be complete without a portion devoted to extemporaneous composition. By this is meant the framing of thoughts on any given subject, and the proper expression of them, either without any preparation, or with the mere pre-arrangement of the plan, leaving the language to be suggested at the time of the delivery. It was a recommendation made by no less an orator than Henry Clay to young men seeking to qualify themselves as public speakers, to spend at least fifteen minutes each day in uttering, in solitude, without any premeditation, their thoughts upon a subject selected at random. This recommendati

What's wrong with using "said" in composition and creative writing?

Let's be clear: it is not incorrect to write 'he said' or 'she said.' In fact, it may be advantageous to let the dialogue do the work and to leave the specific manner or tone of speech to the reader's imagination. The reader often has an intuitive grasp of the flow of emotions. Close examination shows that there are many options if you want to replace the word 'said', but sometimes you don't need to use it at all. The word 'said' also preserves a potential ambiguity. Again this can be helpful in creative writing if you do not want to direct the reader to a specific interpretation. Why not trust the reader to unmask irony and double-meanings in the speech? Often, the writer who lacks confidence wants to fill in all the gaps . Sometimes it is better to be less busy, and to leave some space for the reader to work on the prose. Writing presupposes a partnership; it is not a dictatorship. The word 'said' can also be complement

Listening to Leeds and the Poetry of the North

What a delight to be seeing and hearing more from Leeds, UK, where I was fortunate to be born, and to which I returned in 1990-3 to study for my doctorate in English Literature with Prof. David Fairer at the University of Leeds. The most recent discovery was the John Betjeman film which was never broadcast. I suspect that the BBC did not consider that it could risk a strong regional angle at this time? It's delightful to hear the Poet Laureate John Betjeman praising 'Nonconformist Leeds, sturdy and prickly'; delighting in the Victorian wonders of the city and bemoaning the monstrosities of modernity, most of which have now been wisely demolished. He appreciation of the city comes across and warm and sincere. He delights in the poverty and community of the back-to-back houses in Armley, and deplores the municipal planning that produced Seacroft town centre. Whitelocks Bar, Leeds The BBC has also recently broadcast a radio documentary celebrating Whitelock'

Finding your authentic academic voice

Are you still sharpening your use of academic language, or are you loosening the reins? The title of this blog points to the tensions involved in professional educational writing. In one sense the purely personal, original, pre-academic voice is a fiction. By joining the ranks of academe your voice has already begun to switch from a personal to a public voice. Taking the micky becomes parody or satire , for instance. Academic writing loses colloquial speech-like qualities and takes on the jargon of professional authenticity. And speech also tends to lose the accent and dialect of your class roots. Sadly, standard academic English is a rather middle-class business proposition. There is a gain but there is also a loss. But academic voice in the arts and the social sciences need not be the bleak accent of dry neutrality and emotionless abstraction. Surely there's an error in losing the individual idiosyncrasy of the human pulse in this domain of work? While it is true that

The Rise of the Super Tutor League

Media hype: (1) Recent media reports have mentioned that some "supertutors" earn as much as £300 per hour . Yes! that's per HOUR! Reality check: But private tutoring with an agency is not as lucrative as it might appear: (2) "A competitive salary - £21,000per annum (£22,000pa within the M25) plus £2880pa bonus potential based on your centre's performance." [Explore Learning Job Advert] The reality in most cases is that many tutors are undergraduates or recent postgraduates seeking to earn extra cash. Typically, they will be enthusiastic, well-informed and unqualified as teaching professionals. Rates of pay often range from £18 to £35 per hour, and that may include travel time and costs. In contrast to employing a trades person such as an electrician or a plumber on a standard £50 call out fee, it's quite poorly paid. Alternatively, some poorly-paid early career teachers supplement their earnings by offering private teaching. In some cas