Monday, August 31, 2009

A New Assignment: Pick Books You Like

Published: August 29, 2009
JONESBORO, Ga. — For years Lorrie McNeill loved teaching “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the Harper Lee classic that many Americans regard as a literary rite of passage.

But last fall, for the first time in 15 years, Ms. McNeill, 42, did not assign “Mockingbird” — or any novel. Instead she turned over all the decisions about which books to read to the students in her seventh- and eighth-grade English classes at Jonesboro Middle School in this south Atlanta suburb.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Anne Fine deplores 'gritty realism' of modern children's books

Former Children's Laureate Anne Fine said that modern stories offered little hope for their protagonists

Once upon a time, in the spiffing 1950s, characters in children’s books enjoyed wonderful adventures after which they all lived happily ever after. By contrast, reality weighs heavily on today’s young readers, a former children’s laureate has warned.

Anne Fine said that cosy tales in which children’s characters looked forward to future adventures had been replaced by gritty stories that offered no hope for their weary protagonists.Contemporary literature is dauntingly bleak, with depressing endings that do little to inspire.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Short Biography of William Shakespear

The life and times of the world’s most famous playwright

Amazingly, we know very little about Shakespeare’s life. Even though he is the world’s most famous playwright, historians have had to fill in the gaps between the handful of surviving records from Elizabethan times.

Some interesting points:

  • Born April 23, 1564 - but this is just an educated guess, because the only record is of his baptism three days later.
  • Died April 23, 1616 - but this is also an educated guess, because the only record is of his burial two days later.
  • He had three children, the oldest conceived out of wedlock, and a set of twins, one of whom died at age 11.
  • His wife's name was Anne Hathaway (like the actress! She must have been named after his wife....)
Read more....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Introducing Iambic Pentameter

By Lee Jamieson,

Iambic pentameter is meter that Shakespeare nearly always used when writing in verse. Most of his plays were written in iambic pentameter, except for lower-class characters who speak in prose.

What is Iambic Pentameter?

Iambic Pentameter has:

  • Ten syllables in each line
  • Five pairs of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables
  • The rhythm in each line sounds like:
    ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Common Phrases Invented by Shakespeare

By Lee Jamieson,

Shakespeare has had a huge influence on the English language. Some people today reading Shakespeare for the first time complain that the language is difficult to read and understand, yet we are still using hundreds of words and phrases coined by him in our everyday conversation.

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Top 10 literary hoaxes

Bestselling author Tom Carew may have been somewhat economical with the truth in his colourful account of his adventures in Afghanistan - according to the Ministry of Defence, he never served in the SAS. However, Carew's stunt is just the latest in a long line of literary hoaxes, from Shakespearean 'discoveries' to flying saucer frauds.

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Poetry, Imagination, and Education

Perhaps there never was a time when education received so much general attention as it does today. The world is deluged with books, pamphlets, and reviews on the subject, new systems are continually jostling the old out of place, new methods are constantly being applied, the very end and aim of education itself seems to change from time to time.

That the object of education should be to fit the child for life is such a trite and well-worn saying that people smile at its commonplaceness even while they agree with its obvious common sense. But the many ways of fitting the child, and the very various and diverse lives that have to be fitted for, are so perplexing that it is small wonder that curriculums multiply and still, multiply their subjects in order to keep up with the complexity of modern existence.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Follow your obsessions (for books, that is!)

Is making a book recommendation slightly dangerous? If you're brash enough to distill all your advice about how to face life's stages, blows and transitions to four volumes of literature, should you be surprised if you're met with a few raised eyebrows, maybe some subtly averted glances?

Is it worth revealing all the classics you'd suggest throwing aside in favour of a couple Jon Krakauer books about climbing mountains? Worth admitting you were more moved by Salinger's neurotic Franny and Zooey than Shakespeare's elegant Romeo and Juliet?

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Europe Divided on Google Book Deal

Published: August 23, 2009

BERLIN — The proposed U.S. legal settlement giving Google the right to sell digital copies of millions of books is dividing publishers and authors in Europe, which has struggled to develop viable alternatives to Google’s ambitious book digitization project.

Some big European publishers, like Oxford University Press, and Bertelsmann and Holtzbrinck, which own Random House and Macmillan respectively, support the agreement, which remains subject to approval by a U.S. judge. They see the pact as greatly expanding the visibility of their archives for online purchase. But opposition to the deal, which would allow U.S. consumers to buy online access to millions of books by European authors whose works were scanned at U.S. libraries, is mounting.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Twitter Valued Around $500 Million

The San Francisco Business Journal reports that a research firm named has put on a value on Twitter between $441 million and $589 million.

Twitter has a value of $441 million to $589 million, according to a new report by an independent research firm co-founded by financial world celebrity Michael Moe.

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Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

Emotional Bunny says: "$500 million to cut out vowels from the English language to make it more digestible....."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book returned to library 145 years overdue

$52,000 fine waived after book stolen during Civil War is given back to Virginia university

A book looted from a US library during the American civil war has finally been returned, almost 145 years overdue.

Tuzki Bunny Emoticon

The only stipulation of the Illinois handball coach who returned the title – the first in WFP Napier's four-volume History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France – was that he didn't have to pay the $52,858 (£36,000) fine.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Do Kids' Books Need Kid Characters?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Author Gail Gauthier's Reflections On Children's Books, Writing, And The Kidlit World

"Last spring, a few of us here at Original Content got into one of our lengthier discussions on the subject of adult characters in children's books. At that time, I said I thought adult characters could work in children's books, but I thought "that happens when the adult characters are outsiders of some type. Think Skullduggery Pleasant, for instance, who, as a skeleton, can't be said to fit into society very easily. Or at all. Our social order is run by adults, making children outsiders. Outsider child readers can connect with outsider adult characters."

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Quotes by Einstein

Not exactly news, but here are 183 famous quotes by Albert Einstein! :)

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Researchers mine millions of metaphors through computer-based techniques

March 3rd, 2009 By Lisa M. Krieger

Metaphors cannot be taught, asserted the great philosopher Aristotle. "It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others." But a computer scientist and literary historian say he's wrong.

"...This approach to studying literature was inconceivable back around 330 BCE, when Aristotle wrote that "the greatest thing by far is to be a master of the metaphor," language that compares seemingly unrelated subjects - a "winged thought," for instance..."

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Study calls for new approach to teaching English as a lingua franca

July 20th, 2009

A study at the University of Leicester highlights the need for a new approach to the teaching of English pronunciation given that English is now a lingua franca (a language systematically used to communicate between persons not sharing a mother tongue), with more non-native speakers in the world than native speakers.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It was the worst of times - Penguin gets into Twitterature

Ed Pilkington
June 26, 2009

IS THERE no end to Twittermania? Chat room, news feed, celebrity watch, rebel intercom: for such a young technology, Twitter has already generated an improbable array of uses, not to mention a couple of potentially very rich founders.

But now, the microblogging site is about to become a tool to aid the digestion of great literature.

Fans of the classics will be delighted or appalled to learn that the New York branch of Penguin books has commissioned a volume that will put great works through the Twitter mangle. The volume has a working title that will make the nerve ends of purists jangle: Twitterature.

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Tuzki Bunny EmoticonMan claims Bronte portrait find (UK)

An art collector claims he has uncovered a rare portrait of the Bronte sisters painted by one of Britain's most famous Victorian artists.

James Gorin von Grozny, from Devon, paid £150 for the work which he believes was painted by Sir Edwin Landseer in 1838.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Written Word can be a Dangerous Thing

By Lyndell Miller
Published: 8/8/2009

The written word. It has become so much a part of our everyday lives that we English-speaking peoples take it for granted. But, have you ever wondered if the words you were writing were conveying the message you had in mind?

"....Speaking to one of our local University English professors the other day (yes I live in a college town), I was asking him how I could make people understand what I was trying to write? He said, "You can't! Because the English language is the only language in the world that relies as much on tone and inflection for the meaning as it does the written words. That's why good writers add a lot of colorful and graphic language to try to paint a mental image in the readers mind. "

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Literary greats 'key to English'

Classic English literature should remain central to the teaching of English, a study suggests.

A survey of thousands of teachers, pupils, parents, writers and advisers found great support for the classics.

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Media studies grows in schools

By Angela Harrison
BBC News education reporter

Increasing numbers of teenagers are opting to do media studies - with some dropping English literature to do so, a report from an exams watchdog suggests.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Psychologists: Victorian Novels Helped Us Evolve

Newser Summary) – Victorian novels didn't just tout moralistic values of 19th-century British society, they helped altruistic genes flourish, a study claims. Evolutionary psychologists say classic characters such as Mr. Darcy and Count Dracula helped instill and promote a sense of right and wrong in society, the Guardian reports, specifically the notion that cooperation trumps individual power.

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What Happens When a Language Dies?

India is extraordinary for its linguistic and cultural diversity. According to official estimates, the country is home to at least 400 distinct tongues, but many experts believe the actual number is probably around 700.

But, in a scenario replicated around the globe, many of India's languages are at risk of dying out.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Whatever happened to the classics?

"One of my favorite childhood memories is going to a dozen or so yard sales with my grandparents and my grandpa always buying me copies of the classics.....

"......So you can imagine my amazement when browsing the shelves at an area-shopping outlet, I stumbled across a rewrite of the most beloved book of my grandfather and myself. At first I believed there was something wrong with the cover, however, my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is now a book titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why heroines die in classic fiction

By Vivienne Parry
Presenter, A Nasty Case Of The Vapours

To read classic fiction is to know that if the heroine gets wet, a swift descent into brain fever and death bed scenes is assured within a chapter or so.

But, dear reader, have you ever wondered what was actually wrong with these swooning creatures?

For, I confess, part of me has always longed to grab them and say: "You only got your slippers wet. For heaven's sake, girl, just get a grip!"

So what does modern medicine have to say about these malingering madams' ailments?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Print is Dead. Print is Not Dead.

In terms of publishing it’s cliche, an unoriginal thought, a blind call for alarm. Print is not dead. Print is changing. Using the Internet to announce the end is neigh is like using your horn to break up gridlock traffic. Acting on an impulse only exacerbates the situation.

Let’s distinguish between newspaper and literature publishing...

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Skeptic's Take on the Life and Argued Works of Shakespeare

The anti-Stratfordian skeptics are back, and this time they have a Supreme Court justice on their side

By Michael Shermer

"......Stevens's argument retreads a well-worn syllogism: Shakespeare's plays are so culturally rich that they could only have been written by a noble or scholar of great learning. The historical William Shakespeare was a commoner with no more than a grammar school education. Ergo, Shakespeare could not have written Shakespeare. For example, Stevens asks, "Where are the books? You can't be a scholar of that depth and not have any books in your home. He never had any correspondence with his contemporaries, he never was shown to be present at any major event—the coronation of James or any of that stuff. I think the evidence that he was not the author is beyond a reasonable doubt."....