Showing posts from September, 2014

Libraries: earliest fond memories

For some people, I suspect, libraries have become an act of faith, or a kind of heritage; they hang on to libraries like cathedrals long after their belief in the deity has past away. No doubt the great libraries will survive. Those are the ones with vast national collections, or those with a special antiquity, or a majestic architecture. The fate of the rundown relics of suburbia is less clear; not matter how much we celebrate the power of the little library it appears that its extinction is as likely as the video-hire shop, or even the local bookshop, with its greeting cards, its quaint plantpots, and its local authors. Yet some of us still delight in tea-leaves, coffee-beans, and the safe solidity of printed books, long after the the victory of the instant download has streamlined the past, the present, and the future, in a dizzying sea of sameness. Sometimes there is something radical in remembering the past; it need not collapese into a conservative tear-torn nostalgia. Ga

The Eight Openings and the Blank Page Trauma

Are you familiar with the terror of the blank page in the exam room? Do you experience a sense of writer's block in this situation? Are you just unsure about your technique in starting an essay? In fact, there are many tried and tested openings that will get your writing off to a confident and winning start. Although there are infinite possible ways of leading into an essay, blog, or news article, there are some common opening gambits that writers rely on (as in a game of chess). After a strong opening you will be ready for a winning middle game. Before outlining the Eight Openings , here are some points to think about: Is your aim to engage the reader by being relevant, creative, and original? Are you trying to arouse curiosity or to meet expectations? Are you explaining what’s on offer (like a menu), or offering a taster session? In a promotional sense you want to encourage the reader to come through the door: to enter your mental world. Some reader

Character Definitions and Creative Techniques

An Examination of the role of CHARACTER in literary texts Superficially ... “A person in a story, someone we can relate to, or identify with ...” But Note: Caricature – 2-dimensinal, simple, represents one value, e.g. the angry man, jealousy = related to allegory and satire = distortion for effect of one quality, or exaggeration of certain features; stereotypes Narrative functions – hero/villain, trickster, false hero, magician, father/son, mother/daughter, outcast, rebel. In real life people that we come to know well are seldom just functions or caricatures. Real living people in the media, or celebrities, often have an assumed character or role that might be quite different from how they are in their personal life. In texts, an assumed role is called a persona , in the media we even talk about ‘personalities’ to express the public projection of a role. Perceptions of role or character can also be manipulated e.g. spin doctors and propagandists ma

Transition from School to University

University - anxiety or liberation ? Dear Students, Many of you will find the transition from school to university very difficult. In a previous blog I offered an impressionistic account of some of the main reasons why students don't have a successful first year and provided some practical tips. But what about the initial transition? How will university life be different from being at school and living at home? Below, I offer a five point plan for making a successful transition. The first point to consider is that the intensive care you have probably experienced at home and at school will not be available with the same frequency at your college. Personal tutors and welfare staff will be available to help, but they won't be monitoring your health and well-being on a daily basis. Support services are widely available in all universities, but you will need to seek them out. If you have lived a sheltered life between your school and your bedroom the personal transition t

Book Challenge

Time to take the Book Challenge. Please post comments and suggestion below, or use Twitter #bookchallenge Which book is most often stolen from a library? Is it possible to be poisoned by a book? How much did it cost to produce the world's most expensive book? What was Shakespeare's best insult? Who invented science fiction, or fantasy? When was the world's first novel written? What's the funniest moment in literature? Which book has the best opening line? What's the longest book ever written? Who is the world's best selling writer, alive or dead? Who is the most famous/infamous fictional woman to appear in a story? When was the first comic strip published? Who wrote the world's first romance? When was the world's first recipe book composed? Who was the world's most prolific author? Who invented young adult fiction? Which book has caused the most trouble? Who is the most liked/hated superhero?  Who was the world's slowest