Showing posts with label English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 July 2016

For and Against Memorizing Poetry





This petition was submitted during the 2010–2015 Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government; the deadline 30 March 2015. At the time is attracted only 366 signatures, despite being widely circulated as a link on social media.

Petition:

End of GCSE English Literature for All, 2017

GCSE English Literature from 2017 will require students to remember between 15 and 18 (depending on exam board) poems in an exam in order to 'closely analyse' them. Signatories ask government to consult with the English teaching community as to whether this is the fairest and most meaningful way of assessing students' understanding and appreciation of poetry. There has been no such consultation on this matter to date.


Meanwhile the learning of poetry for public recitation is increasingly popular. Moving beyond the controversial rote-learning for exams issue, this blog explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of learning poetry for public recitation.

Advantages:

  1. Typically, the student who successfully memorizes a poem will be offered a reward or a prize (often also a bribe). This motivates those who are successful to embark on greater challenges.

  1. Successfully memorizing a poem provides a sense of student competence, achievement and proficiency. An insurmountable obstacle has been overcome.

  1. Accordingly, learning a poem is a form of proficiency that is easy to mark and assess, with clear winners and losers.

  1. This is an opportunity to practise memory techniques, props and systems.

  1. The task involves a high degree of focus, repetition and concentration. These skills are undervalued in contemporary pedagogy.

  1. Rather than simply reading the poem from memory, this exercise affords an opportunity for performance and recitation skills. These express the life of the poem filtered through the idiosyncratic voice of the reciter.

  1. The public speaking is an opportunity to inhabit and express the rhythms and cadences of the poem, using soft and loud voices, and other techniques. This means feeling a poem, rather than just skimming over it on the page. As a result, the reciter gains a deep familiarity with the secrets of a poem, with the hints and undertones that are often missed on the page.

  1. This process affords an insight into the unity between reading and reciting, and between speaking and listening, demonstrating the fundamental inter-connectedness of the message and its delivery as effective communication.

  1. Wit and humour can be introduced by using tongue-twisters as poetic exercises. Or use short comic poems such as limericks or nonsense verse.

  1. Recitations can be collaborative: in this case, each student in a class learns just one line!

  1. Learn how poets provide memory clues by using repetition, assonance, rhythm and rhyme.

  1. This is a useful and deepening insight into the sonic and oral dimension of poetry.

  1. If a poem has been learned then it can be called back into being as you wait for a bus or walk through the countryside.

  1. A learned poem may stay with you for the rest of your life. Its value deepens and glows more brightly as time passes. For adults, there is a glorious joy in the poems that you learned in childhood and youth.

  1. Memorized poems provide touchstones in the mind. Favourite lines that linger in our consciousness become an aesthetic criterion and foundation for critical judgements.

  1. Classical rhetoric afforded a respected place to the arts of memory.

  1. This exercise will support essential speaking, debating and speech-making skills. These skills are essential for effective team-work and leadership roles.

  1. If you want to be a stage actor the arts of memory and recitation and will provide essential training.

  1. The learned memory skills will help you in your career as a singer or performance artist. This will appeal to young people who often express a preference for following the career choices of their idols.

Disadvantages

  1. A high proportion of poems have a textual and on-the-page quality. Since the invention of writing and print, the experience has been one of reading, not reciting. Poets write to be read.

  1. The emphasis on the orality of poetry has an old-fashioned, nostalgic quality. It is Homer rather than Virgil.Our world is essentially prosaic. Would anyone attempt to recite Henry James's Golden Bowl  from memory? (But without doubt it is fascinating to read Walter J. Ong on Orality and Literacy.)

  1. Rote-learning is an exercise based on the nineteenth-century classroom; it values memory and parrot-like repetition over creativity and critical discussion. It is a discipline for obedient and servile citizenship, rather than self-standing, self-aware individuals.

  1. Memorization is arduous and alienating; for the majority of students the outcome of this exercise will be a sense of failure to achieve. The experience of failure will be a scar, and lead to a perpetual resentment against poetry.

  1. Memory skills are over-rated in a world where anything can be looked up and located on the internet in a couple of clicks.

  1. Memorization is like doing all your math calculations by hand, rather than using a calculator.

  1. Exams already offer plenty of opportunity for students to demonstrate their capacity to use their memory. Why add to the anguish? And don't higher level exams value understanding over total recall?

  1. Modern speech making is less literary than that of the classical/humanist past; improvisation is to be preferred to rote learning that will appear forced, artificial and awkward.

  1. Is this really the most effective use of student work time?

     10. Total recall is a kind of slavery. Leave it to robots and to Hollywood fantasy.




Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences

(Quibble Academic, 2013)


Further Reading

"Many people in Great Britain and the United States can recall elderly relatives who remembered long stretches of verse learned at school decades earlier, yet most of us were never required to recite in class. Heart Beats is the first book to examine how poetry recitation came to assume a central place in past curricular programs, and to investigate when and why the once-mandatory exercise declined. Telling the story of a lost pedagogical practice and its wide-ranging effects on two sides of the Atlantic, Catherine Robson explores how recitation altered the ordinary people who committed poems to heart, and changed the worlds in which they lived. Heart Beats begins by investigating recitation's progress within British and American public educational systems over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and weighs the factors that influenced which poems were most frequently assigned. Robson then scrutinizes the recitational fortunes of three short works that were once classroom classics: Felicia Hemans's "Casabianca," Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," and Charles Wolfe's "Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna." To conclude, the book considers W. E. Henley's "Invictus" and Rudyard Kipling's "If--," asking why the idea of the memorized poem arouses such different responses in the United States and Great Britain today. Focusing on vital connections between poems, individuals, and their communities, Heart Beats is an important study of the history and power of memorized poetry." See Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem by Catherine Robson (Princeton University Press 2012)

"What has happened to the lost art of memorising poetry? Why do we no longer feel that it is necessary to know the most enduring, beautiful poems in the English language 'by heart'? In his introduction Ted Hughes explains how we can overcome the problem by using a memory system that becomes easier the more frequently it is practised. The collected 101 poems are both personal favourites and particularly well-suited to the method Hughes demonstrates. Spanning four centuries, ranging from Shakespeare and Keats through to Auden and Heaney, By Heart offers the reader a 'mental gymnasium' in which the memory can be exercised and trained in the most pleasurable way. Some poems will be more of a challenge than others, but all will be treasured once they have become part of the memory bank." By Heart, By Ted Hughes (Faber 2012)

"The ancient Greeks, to whom a trained memory was of vital importance - as it was to everyone before the invention of printing - created an elaborate memory system, based on a technique of impressing 'places' and 'images' on the mind. Inherited and recorded by the Romans, this art of memory passed into the European tradition, to be revived, in occult form, at the Renaissance, and particularly by the strange and remarkable genius, Giordano Bruno. Such is the main theme of Frances Yates's unique and brilliant book, in the course of which she sheds light on such diverse subjects as Dante's Divine Comedy, the form of the Shakespearian theatre and the history of ancient architecture. Aside from its intrinsic fascination, The Art of Memory is an invaluable contribution to aesthetics and psychology, and to the history of philosophy, of science and of literature." The Art Of Memory, by Frances A Yates (Pimlico, 1992)

"Mary Carruthers's classic study of the training and uses of memory for a variety of purposes in European cultures during the Middle Ages has fundamentally changed the way scholars understand medieval culture. This fully revised and updated second edition considers afresh all the material and conclusions of the first. While responding to new directions in research inspired by the original, this new edition devotes much more attention to the role of trained memory in composition, whether of literature, music, architecture, or manuscript books. The new edition will reignite the debate on memory in medieval studies and, like the first, will be essential reading for scholars of history, music, the arts and literature, as well as those interested in issues of orality and literacy (anthropology), in the working and design of memory (both neuropsychology and artificial memory), and in the disciplines of meditation (religion)."  The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature) by Mary Carruthers 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Comedy: famous quotes





“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”
--- Charlie Chaplin.

"Dramatic comedy, from which fictional comedy is mainly descended, has been remarkably tenacious of its structural principles and character types."
(Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism)

"The days of Comedy are gone, alas!
When Congreve's fool could vie with Moliere's bete:  
Society is smooth'd to that excess, 
That manners hardly differ more than dress."
--- Byron

"Man is the merriest species of the creation, all above and below him are serious."
--- Addison
“This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.”
--- Horace Walpole.

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.”
--- Peter Ustinov

“The duty of comedy is to correct men by amusing them.”
--- Moliere.

"In the hands of a comic genius the pretence of stupidity is the triumph of irony."

"In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so ill-bred, as audible laughter."
--- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. 9 March 1748.

    "For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug,—push it a little—crowd it a little—weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand."
---  Satan, in Mark Twain's "The Chronicle of Young Satan" 

 “As the purpose of comedy is to correct the vices of men, I see no reason why anyone should be exempt.”
--- Moliere.

“The most difficult character in comedy is that of the fool, and he must be no simpleton that plays that part.”
--- Miguel de Cervantes.
"The principle of the humor is the principle that unincremental repetition, the literary imitation of ritual bondage, is funny. In a tragedy - Oedipus Tyrannus is the stock example - repetition leads logically to catastrophe. Repetition overdone or not going anywhere belongs to comedy, for laughter is partly a reflex, and like other reflexes it can be conditioned by a simple repeated pattern." (Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism)
"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods."
--- Albert Einstein

“One always writes comedy at the moment of deepest hysteria.”
--- V. S. Naipaul.

“In tragedy every moment is eternity; in comedy, eternity is a moment.”
--- Christopher Fry.

“Comedy, we may say, is society protecting itself - with a smile.”
--- J. B. Priestley.

“Humor is properly the exponent of low things; that which first renders them poetical to the mind. The man of Humor sees common life, even mean life, under the new light of sportfulness and love; whatever has existence has a charm for him. Humor has justly been regarded as the finest perfection of poetic genius. He who wants it, be his other gifts what they may, has only half a mind; an eye for what is above him, not for what is about him or below him.”
--- Thomas Carlyle, in 'Schiller" (1831)



Honoré Daumier: Louis Philippe Transforming into a Pear
(Le Charivari, 1835);  “Poire” (pear) - French slang for “simpleton”

“It is not funny that anything else should fall down, only that a man should fall down ... Why do we laugh? Because it is a gravely religious matter: it is the Fall of Man. Only man can be absurd: for only man can be dignified.”
--- G. K. Chesterton, "Spiritualism", in All Things Considered (1908)


“The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic. It is only by the deepest suffering that one acquires true authority in the use of the comic, an authority which by one word transforms as by magic the reasonable creature one calls man into a caricature.”
--- Søren Kierkegaard, in Stages on Life's Way (1845)

"Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature."
 --- Addison

Parody is critical intelligence in humorous mode.
“A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes.”
--- Ludwig Wittgenstein, as quoted in "A View from the Asylum"

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

“Comedy is an escape, not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.”
--- Christopher Fry

“The perception of the comic is a tie of sympathy with other men, a pledge of sanity, and a protection from those perverse tendencies and gloomy insanities in which fine intellects sometimes lose themselves. A rogue alive to the ludicrous is still convertible. If that sense is lost, his fellow-men can do little for him.”
--- Ralph Waldo Emerso

“Comedy naturally wears itself out -- destroys the very food on which it lives; and by constantly and successfully exposing the follies and weaknesses of mankind to ridicule, in the end leaves itself nothing worth laughing at.”
--- William Hazlitt

"Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humour is not joy but sorrow. There is no humour in Heaven."
--- Mark Twain 



‘Laughter, while it lasts, slackens and unbraces the mind, weakens the faculties, and causes a kind of remissness and dissolution in all the powers of the soul; and thus far it may be looked upon as a weakness in the composition of human nature. But if we consider the frequent reliefs we receive from it, and how often it breaks the gloom which is apt to depress the mind and damp our spirits, with transient unexpected gleams of joy, one would take care not to grow too wise for so great a pleasure of life.’ 
--- Addison


“A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”
--- Ernest Hemingway.

"The onset is sudden, with attacks of laughing and crying lasting for a few minutes to a few hours, followed by a respite and then a recurrence. The attack is accompanied by restlessness and on occasions violence when restraint is attempted. The patient may say that things are moving around in the head and that she fears that someone is running after her. The examination is notable for the absence of abnormal physical signs. No fever was detected, although some reported that they had had fever after a few days. The only abnormalities found were in the central nervous system. The pupils were frequently more dilated than controls, but always reacted to light. The tendon reflexes in the lower limbs were frequently exaggerated. There were no tremors or fits or losses of consciousness. The neck was not stiff." 
--- Rankin, A.M. & Philip, P.J. (1963). An epidemic of laughing in the Bukoba district of Tanganyika. Central African Medical Journal, 9, 167–170.


“A pleasant comedy, which paints the manners of the age, and exposes a faithful picture of nature, is a durable work, and is transmitted to the latest posterity. But a system, whether physical or metaphysical, commonly owes its success to its novelty; and is no sooner canvassed with impartiality than its weakness is discovered.”
--- David Hume

“The comic spirit is given to us in order that we may analyze, weigh, and clarify things in us which nettle us, or which we are outgrowing, or trying to reshape.”
 ---Thornton Wilder.

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
--- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

“The comic and the tragic lie close together, inseparable, like light and shadow.”
--- Socrates.

“Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.”
---  Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC)

"If we may believe our logicians, man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. He has a heart capable of mirth, and naturally disposed to it. "
--- Joseph Addison

"Laughter relieves us of superfluous energy, which, if it remained unused, might become negative, that is, poison. Laughter is the antidote. "
--- George Gurdjieff

"In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause."
--- George Eliot

"But whoever gives birth to useless children, what would you say of him except that he has bred sorrows for himself, and furnishes laughter for his enemies."
--- Sophocles

"The sound of laughter is like the vaulted dome of a temple of happiness."
---  Milan Kundera

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
---  Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

“Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”  
---  T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)


Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.

Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.

FLASHCARD LEARNING:


Sunday, 8 March 2015

To -ise or not to -ize

Gielgud as Hamlet
People have become very grumpy about the use of -ize.

We always spell several common words as follows:

advertise, advise, arise, chastise, circumcise, compromise, despise, devise, disenfranchise, enterprise, excise, exercise, franchise, improvise, incise, merchandise, revise, supervise, surmise, surprise, televise.

It is not true that -ize reveals an American usage, as it has been frequently used in British English for centuries.

Those who want to be super-pedantic claim that -ize should be selected in cases where the classical Greek verb deployed the -izo ending.

As far back as the thirteenth century we find examples of usages such as baptize.

My preference is to use -ize. What's yours?


 Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences and 11+ English   



Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Drama Questions for IB or A level

Getting on top of the drama exam

I've been trawling the exam boards and internet sites for examples of A-level / IB exam/essay questions on Drama. These questions are suitable for 16-18 year-olds.

If you are 'lost for ideas' also take a critical look at my TWO compilations of key quotations :

Tragedy: Selected Quotations

Comedy: famous quotes


Exam / Essay Questions:

1. Using two or three plays you have studied, compare the presentation of two or three characters [e.g. introduction, dramatic interactions with other characters], saying in each case how the presentation furthered the dramatists' purposes, and how it rewarded your study.

2. 'While the momentum of the play is carried by major characters, there is often a significant minor character who is a catalyst for change or enlightenment.' Compare the role of a significant minor character in in plays you have studied, showing how these characters contribute to the dramatic action.

3. 'People often act first and reflect afterwards'. In what ways have the connections between action and reflection been more and less important to the plays you have studied?

4. Human illusions have always been a powerful subject of plays, both tragic and comic. In what ways have the plays in your study considered this aspect of human behaviour and with what effects?

5. A play is often a complex web of conflicting emotions. Compare the ways in which playwrights in your study have presented emotional conflicts so as to make an impact on the audience.

6. 'Characters in a play are often motivated by strong passions or desires.' Compare and contrast plays you have studied in the light of this statement. Discuss, in each case, the dramatic effects created by the exploration of such motivation.

7. Compare and contrast the presentation of any three or four characters in plays you have studied. Explain how, and how effectively, each character seems to you to further the dramatic force of the play in which he or she appears.

8. 'What do women and men really want?' Discuss the dramatic techniques through which similar or different desires of the genders have been expressed in plays you have studied, saying how the presentation of them creates an effect on the audience.

9. Plays which succeed with audiences must communicate some aspects of the thoughts and motivations of the characters. How far and by what means have dramatists in your study conveyed the interior lives of their characters?

10. All characters in plays are mouthpieces for their author. From a consideration of some characters from the plays you have studied, say how far you agree.

11. A necessary part of drama is not only to present conflict between the characters in a play, but also to create conflicts within each member of the audience. Compare and contrast two or three plays you have studied in the light of this comment.

12. 'In real life, we are frequently unsure of the motives behind the actions of our fellow human beings, but in a play we must be sure, or the character will become blurred.' In plays you have studied, compare how far and by what means dramatists have ensure that the audience will be very clear about the motives of significant characters.

13. Consider how dramatists make characters speak in plays you have studied, and say how the language and tone of these dialogues, conversations and monologues contribute to each play as a whole.

14. The audience's response to characters in drama is due, in part, to the relationships of these characters with others in the play. Compare the ways in which dramatists in your study use such interactions to present full and complex character portrayals to enhance the theatrical experience.

15. A drama critic recently drew attention to the 'threatening encounters' as a powerful feature of a new play. Discuss encounters [threatening or otherwise] in plays you have studied and consider them as features of the drama created in each case.

16. The 'past' of characters - their implied or recollected experiences - are often used by dramatists to enlarge and enrich character portrayal. Evaluate the use and the importance of characters' lives prior to the events of plays in your study to explain or complicate the events included in the plays.

17. Using plays you have studied, write an essay on the presentation of the relationships between male and female characters [or between characters of the same sex], giving some idea of the dramatic effects achieved by these means.

18. Because a play is simply not words on a page, actions and gestures play a significant part in engaging the audience. Considering the plays you have studied, compare and evaluate the role of action and gesture in enhancing the central thrust of the play.

19. The interactions among characters in a drama is often associated with the acquisition, the holding or the loss of power. By what means and with what effects have plays in your study addressed power relations?

20. What part does fantasy play in the lives of the characters in plays you have studied; how is this fantasy presented and to what effect on the audience?

21. In every play there are characters who the audience regard as either essential or expendable. In plays you have studied, discuss why characters can be seen in either of these ways because of their relationship to the play's meaning.

22. In what ways do the plays you have studied dramatise either the depths to which human beings can sink or the ridiculousness of some human actions?

23. Discuss the extent to which, and the ways in which, each playwright's presentation of female characters differs from that of male characters, making clear effect in each play.

24. The playwright cannot depend, as does the novelist, on a narrative voice rounding out a a character by means of description and analysis. How are the personalities and views of characters effectively conveyed in the plays you have studied?

25. 'A play stands or falls on the dramatists' ability to create believable characters.' How far have you found this statement to be true in the plays you have studied?

26. Through an analysis of some of the characters in two or three plays you have studied, compare the ways in which the struggle between internal and external forces is presented.

27. How do characters and the choices they make contribute to meaning in two or three plays that you have studied?

28. The difference in a play between what is being said and what is being done can provide one focus of interest for the audience. In plays you have studied, by what means and to what effect have dramatists made good use of such differences?

29. 'Drama explains individuals, not relationships'. Paying close attention to how individuals and relationships are presented in two or three plays you have studied, say how far you find this statement to be true.

30. Dramatic conflicts arise when dominant individuals or groups regard themselves as the norm against which others are to be measured. With reference to specific scenes from at least two plays you have studied, discuss the significance of such conflicts and how they are explored.

31. Drama is often the expression or investigation of power: characters can, at different moments in a play, be oppressors or victims, dominant or subservient, users and used. In terms of power and its effects, discuss three or four characters from the plays you have studied, and say what this power-play adds to the play as a whole.

32. In plays a character who appears briefly, or who does not appear at all, can be a significant presence, contributing to action, developing other characters or conveying ideas. To what extent have you found this to be true of at least two plays you have studied?

33. 'Comedy exposes human weakness; tragedy reveals human strength'. How and to what extent does this claim apply to at least two plays you have studied?

34. A change in status of the characters in a play [a success, for example, or a loss or exposure] helps to convey the ideas and/or values of the dramatist. How and to what extent has change in status contributed in this way to at least two plays you have studied?

35. 'In drama there are more interesting roles for men than women'. Discuss to what extent you agree with this statement and what it is that makes a role interesting. Refer closely to at least two plays you have studied.

36. Consider the ways in which scene changes may highlight the development of characters and their relationships in two or three plays you have studied.

37. Isolation, either mental of physical, can lead to despair or enlightenment. In the plays you have studied, show how playwrights have used isolation of any kind to heighten the dramatic effects of their plays and develop their characters.

38. How far, and in what ways, do plays you have studied support the idea that communication between human beings is difficult or perhaps impossible?

39. How have plays you have studied presented 'what happens inside a human being' in dramatic terms?

40. One dramatist has maintained that theater ought to pursue a re-examination, not only of aspects of an objective external world, but also aspects of the inner worlds of human existence. What choices have been made in the plays you have studied to pursue one or the other, or both, of these aspects, and what theatrical techniques have been used to carry out this choice?

41. In achieving a strong dramatic effect, a playwright will sometimes work to elicit from the audience heights of admiration or depths of loathing for certain characters. Compare by what means different dramatists have have managed to construct such powerful characterisations and the effect of those on the play.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

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 may want to present a politician with ‘strong leadership qualities and empathy.’

First person – autobiographical, “I”, my story.

Third person – author/omniscient narrator may provide insights into what they are thinking and feeling – free indirect narrative (author comments). “ ‘Yeah,’he muttered, feeling guilty about what he had done.”

You do not have to describe a character in full at the outset – you can build up the sense of a character through the accumulation of details, observed behaviour, speech patterns ...

Historical – based on real people
Realistic – true-to-life, psychological, inner life and physical appearance;
3-dimensional, complex
Fantastic – imaginary – don’t even have to be human.


Development – some are static, others grow and develop from birth through childhood and adolescence to adult life. A Bildungsroman has the development of a central character across his/her life as a central preoccupation. An example of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations or David Copperfield.

Leading or primary characters – occupy key roles and focalise points of view. Often linked to the idea of the hero/heroine.

Supporting / secondary characters – help to illustrate the main theme, or to develop sub-plots.

Note the key role of dialogue to SHOW and REVEAL characters and their relationships

- accent/dialect                           
- lexis
- grammar                                
- colloquialisms, slang, blasphemy, coarse
- polished and elegant, urbaned and civilized
- tone
- monosyllabic or oratorical (speeches)

Conflict and relationships are essential for building character, and for moving the story forward.

The hero’s JOURNEY / progress involves – threats, obstacles, reversals, tricks, irony, metamorphosis, tests, deviations. Many stories have these structural elements.

Too much inconsistency leads to incredulity (disbelief) in the mind of the reader.

Wider Contexts:

characters display causation as a result of factors such as environment/ family/ social class; these aspects allow the development of ideas and themes.

Avoid confusing a character’s voice, or that of the narrator, with the author's. Don't try to guess authorial intentions! This called the inentional fallacy!

Remember that some characters are ironic – perhaps the narrator/author is having a laugh at their expense?

In Gulliver’s Travels, author Jonathan Swift manipulates the voice of Gulliver so that the reader sometimes supports, and at other times opposes Gulliver's point of view.

This means that there is a degree of inconsistency, and perhaps we should refer to Gulliver as a satirical persona, mouthpiece, or rhetorical device, rather than a character in the tradition of the realist novel.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Sentence Connection and Transition: a bibliography





Today I am sharing the FURTHER READING list published in my book The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences (Quibble Academic 2013):

Amidon, Arlene. "Children's understanding of sentences with contingent relations: Why are temporal and conditional connectives so difficult?" Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 22.3 (1976): 423-437.

Astington, Janet Wilde, Janette Pelletier, and Bruce Homer. "Theory of mind and epistemological development: The relation between children's second-order false-belief understanding and their ability to reason about evidence." New Ideas in Psychology 20.2 (2002): 131-144.

Bakewell, Sarah. How to Live: A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Vintage, 2011.

Baker, Linda. "Comprehension monitoring: Identifying and coping with text confusions." Journal of Literacy Research 11.4 (1979): 365-374.

Bates, Elisabeth, Philip S. Dale, and Donna Thal. "Individual differences and their implications for theories of language development." The Handbook of Child Language (1995): 96-151.

Beilin, Harry, and Barbara Lust. "A study of the development of logical and linguistics connectives: Linguistics data." Studies in the cognitive basis of language development (1975): 76-120.

Bizzell, Patricia, and Bruce Herzberg, eds., The rhetorical tradition: Readings from classical times to the present. Boston, MA: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1990.

Bloom, Lois, et al. "Complex sentences: Acquisition of syntactic connectives and the semantic relations they encode." Journal of child language 7.02 (1980): 235-261.

Bloom, Lois. Language development from two to three. Cambridge University Press, (1993).

Bondi, Marina. "Connectives." The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics.

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