Half-Term Book Haul

An almost ascetic book haul this time out …

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Sure, it’s only a week away from school, and I ought to be able to control myself.  Many of you will also have a handle on the state of my bookshelves – I have no space for these, and yet.  Half-terms are an opportunity to catch breath in more ways than one.

Some would suggest I oughtn’t to have bought anything; I like to think of this as a fairly restrained Book Haul, all sourced from the second hand bookshop about 300 yards from ‘her place’.  So, what and why …

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My Delightful Society

‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours …’

440px-Portrait_of_William_Gladstone‘Books are delightful society.  If you go into a room and find it full of books – even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome.’  William Ewart Gladstone

This post came out of a discussion on Reddit where I asserted that we weren’t seeing enough Shakespeare shelf-porn.  SHAKESPORN, in fact.  Yup. You heard me.  So in the spirit of ‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours‘, here’s a tour of my Shakespeare bookshelf: MY ‘delightful society‘ …

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QotW (#56): 10 September 2018

Studying a History play? Look for the playwright’s sources …

BH Edward-IIMy Marxist critical inclinations – that a text can’t be read in isolation from the contextual crucible that created it – get pretty much free reign when it comes to teaching Edward II.  For the OCR A Level course, my students need to compare Marlowe’s drama to Tennyson‘s monodrama, ‘Maud‘ and, get this, 50% of the mark is context (that’s AO3, troops).

What, exactly, is context?  I’d suggest that for both texts, maybe all texts, context is usually a mix of two things:

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QotW: 06 August 2018 (#52)

Gifted, abominable, yet capable of producing ‘the mighty line’ …

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Ben Wishaw and Karoline Herfurth in Tom Tykwer‘s 2006 film

It’s episode 52 – not a continuous year (the first post is here), but a year nonetheless, so I’m going to indulge myself a little this week.  Will you be able to tell the difference, I hear you ask!

Bear with me whilst I tell you a story:

In eighteenth-century France there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His story will be told here. His name was Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, and if his name – in contrast to the names of other gifted abominations, de Sade’s, for instance, or Saint-Just’s, Fouché’s, Bonaparte’s, etc. – has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Grenouille fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of scent. [a]

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Cultural Capital 07: Tragedy

We loved a fall from grace as much then as we do now …

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For Christ’s sake, can’t you see I’m busy, Ophelia? Get thee to a nunnery!

[this article first appeared in the in-house magazine I edit for our sixth-form English students]

Tragedy!  When the  feeling’s gone and you can’t go on …

It’s not that long ago that I appalled a class by stating that whilst the death of a pet dog might be ‘quite sad’, it definitely wasn’t ‘tragic’. ^

I definitely spend too much time in the late 16th century!

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Forth, and Fear No Darkness …

“DO panic tomorrow. For 5 minutes. Then dive in.”

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Tomorrow is the Year 12 end of year exam …

150 minutes.  Three questions, on Richard III, Edward II, and Tennyson‘s ‘Maud‘.  And despite my best efforts, my class have been increasingly panicked, increasingly convinced that a ‘U’ grade will result in their being kicked off the course.  Most of my free periods this week have been taken up in reassurance and revision.

It’s been contagious:

Open your ears! For who could possibly block them when loud Rumor speaks? (2HIV)

And it’s been unhelpful.  For a certain type of student, fear of failure is the biggest barrier they have to succeeding.  Whoever propagated this ‘you’re getting kicked out’ myth needs a kick in the codpiece.

One of the latest things I asked my students to consider was the contrast in pre-battle speeches between Richard and Richmond.  Which inspired me to email them my own, a short while ago …

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Forensic Friday (#4): RIII III.ii.39-42

 

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A nice positive GIF for my Y12 class … you CAN score, people!

‘SQUEAKY BUM TIME’:  the point towards the end of a football game, or season, when you hold a slender lead but are almost shitting yourself, in case something goes horribly wrong …

– – –

I’m publishing this with a exactly a week to go before my Y12s face their end of year exam –  a full exam on everything we’ve done this year: Tennyson‘s ‘Maud’; Marlowe‘s Edward II; and of course, Richard III.  Evidence suggests my students are in full ‘squeaky bum’ mode, despite my best efforts to reassure them.  And, hey, it’s the World Cup:  if Mexico (one of ‘my teams’ can hang on to a 1-0 lead for an hour against Germany, I think you can hang on to what I have taught you this year for another seven days?

You know what to do: especially (for the first question) if you have been reading these …

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