Cultural Capital 01: Dante’s Inferno

Flatterers … are destined to mud-wrestle each other in a lake of diarrhoea … representing the crap they spoke whilst alive, I suppose!

BH george michael choose life
The ultimate HAMLET tee-shirt?

Subtitled:  Big Mouth Strikes Again (The Smiths – my students will know why, today of all days)

This article was written for a forthcoming in-house newsletter/magazine.  First, hopefully, in a series of articles (Cultural Capital) about influential, dare I say essential works that our students need to get under their belts.  I set myself a STRICT word-count of 750, including quotations but excluding titles and references, tried to avoid being too professorial, and I’ve prioritised other texts related to what I’ll be teaching as part of the OCR A Level Engish Literature course.  If I’m spared 😉

Inferno is a valuable source of AO1 and AO3, people.  This won’t replace you reading the original, but it might at least persuade you to give it a go.

Next up?  James I‘s DaemonologieMachiavelli‘s The Prince or The Book of Genesis:  open to suggestions …

[…] Midway on our path in life,

I came around and found myself searching

Through a wood, the right way blurred and lost.

I know the feeling.  More importantly, so begins Dante’s Inferno, the sexiest-titled poem no-one’s read.  Perhaps only at a certain age do you start asking Really Big Questions:  ‘What am I doing with my life?  What’s the point?  What’s left?’  Tennyson’s like a dog with a bone on this.  Ponytail Shakespeare readers – you’re fed up of hearing this sort of thing from me.

The most important question, though, is surely ‘what’s next?

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Model Answer: Edward II CBA

Anything other than modern ‘exclusivity’ could mean demotion and starvation at best, or – more likely – imprisonment, exile, or execution.

BH Marcus Stone
Painting by Marcus Stone:  Edward and Gaveston frolic in front of Isabella et al

CLASSROOM BASED ASSESSMENT:  In Edward II, love is invariably possessive.  Discuss.

Weightings:  AO1 (25%); AO3 (50%); AO5 (25%)

God, I hate this question.

One of the things that I got from my teacher training, back in the day, was that if you asked a poor/stupid/inaccessible question, you only had yourself to blame for crap answers.  This is an OCR question – at least the students get a choice of six to answer for their final exams.  But for reasons beyond my ken, or immediate power to change, it is our first CBA on Edward II.  It also comes too early in the course for people who were in school uniform less than 6 months ago to be asked to deal with AO5, if you ask me.  They were being constantly drilled in AO2, and for this essay, it’s not required …

But enough whinging.  In the spirit of never asking people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, here’s a model answer for my class to play with.  I tried to do this in the same conditions they were asked to do it in, without any ‘cheating’ on my part.

IF THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE HAD A LOOK AT ONE OF MY ESSAYS, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

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Quote of the Week: 20 November 2017

Fair’s fair: if you think it is important for me to learn what a ‘360 No-Scope’ is, why can’t you get a grasp on similes and metaphors?  

BH periodic table
image:  https://othmarstrombone.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/the-elements-of-language-a-periodic-table-of-sorts/

BE MORE LIONEL MESSI, STUDENTS …

Today’s quote is taken from:  David Crystal, Think On My Words – Exploring Shakespeare’s Language (Cambridge Uiversity Press:  Cambridge, 2008)

To my knowledge, the displays in my classroom had been up since 2012/13 – until this week, at least.

The non-existent magic money tree has been given a shake, and someone in the school has now been given paid time to do this for us.  It’s a bit bizarre, given we’ve had to do it ourselves, unpaid, in the past, which is part of the reason I didn’t bother.  Continuing the general thrust of this post, I felt that making me choose between covering my back by marking students’ work or prettifying the walls was an Rq.  See what I did there?

Anyway …

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Quote of the Week: 13 November 2017

Where Marlowe went when he should have been at Uni …

gorgeous georgius carleton
‘Gorgeous’ Georgius – with a beard any woman would want to lose herself in …

George Carleton, A Thankfull Remembrance of God’s Mercie (1630)

Much as I’d like a copy of this on the Boar’s Head Bookshelf, I’ve been playing with a facsimile copy I got from www.archive.org.  I think it was mentioned in one of the episodes of BBC’s wonderful Shakespeare’s Restless World – which I recommend to anyone remotely interested in Shakespeare, Marlowe and their contemporaries.

As usual, I have one eye on anything that could be interesting or useful to my A Level students, so whilst I’d like to dwell on some of the pretty hilarious vitriol this man of the cloth (Bishop of Winchester, to be exact) reserves for the Catholic faith, I’ve something a little quotable for the students of Marlowe.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 008

WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, WIPE ART WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES BEFORE ALLOWING THE NEXT GENERATION TO HANDLE IT …

BH CSF blinding of Gloucester
‘Out, vile jelly’:  the blinding of Gloucester …

I took this picture – from King Lear – at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival back in 2012.  I often show it to pupils who try to tell me that Shakespeare is ‘boring‘.  Or indeed I give them some of the plot details from Titus Andronicus that have caused such concern of late …

It’s taken me a little while to allow this one to sink in to the extent that it became a ‘crime’, but in the Dock, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I give you no less than the English Faculty of Cambridge University (or at least some members of that august institution) …

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Hay Spiel Chequer Lessen …

Stewed-ants, too-daze lessen his a bout de weighs inn witch spiel-chequers cant bee deep-ended own.

BH weakish speller

I dedicate this to all the Y12 and Y13 students whose typed submissions I am marking at the moment.  You deserve something in return for the frequent face-palms and occasional belly-laughs you are giving me …

Hay Spiel-Chequer Lessen.

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Quote of the Week: 16 October

BH brittle gloryLaura Ashe, Richard II: A Brittle Glory (Penguin: London, 2016)

Emboldened by the excellent ‘Penguin Monarchs‘ volume on Edward II, I looked out which other volumes were available: the first that arrived in the post was this one.

Ashe‘s approach seems different to Given-Wilson‘s on Edward. Where he was reassuringly chronological, she deals with Richard’s reign (and I’ve seen this as a criticism of the volume online) thematically. It has, nonetheless, given me some useful insight into a king who I’ve always vaguely felt I owed a debt: I fell asleep watching Jeremy Irons in the title role – in Stratford, of all places – back in 1986/7. To this day, I blame the large lunch I had before the matinee performance …

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