My students did well on those questions because we practiced bad writing. My teaching was not evaluated on the basis of how well my students did, but I felt I had a responsibility to prepare them for the examination in a way that could result in their obtaining college credit.
I would like to believe [...]
A wonderful analysis of an important part of world-building in science fiction.
As most of you probably know, filmmakers use the term “MacGuffin” to stand for some object that various characters in the tale are competing for. A secret paper, a formula, a stunning gem, a statue of a Maltese falcon…
In Fantasy and SF [...]
I just found my first reading assignment for the “Intro to Literary Study” class I’ll be teaching in a week.
Almost every college student who considers majoring in English – or French, or philosophy, or art history – inevitably hears the question: “What in the world are you going to do with that?” The question [...]
It’s a lot easier to be selfish, to be an artistic libertarian who decides “I will just concern myself with making my work and I’ll just hope and pray there’s still some kind of an apparatus in place to edit, design, produce, market, distribute and sell it when it’s done, or else imagine that I’ll [...]
Why is English spelling such a tangle? It all started when Latin-speaking missionaries arrived in Britain in the 6th century without enough letters in their alphabet. They had 23. (They didn’t have “j”, “u” or “w”.) Yet the Germanic Anglo-Saxon languages had at least 37 phonemes, or distinctive sounds. The Romans didn’t have a letter, [...]
What’s your comma IQ? Mine just so happens to be awesome.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Virginia Woolf had to reassure the public in 1922: “Oh, yes dear reader: the essay is alive. There is no reason to despair,” even as journalists crowed over the death of “that lavender-scented little old lady of literature.” “Everybody is forever saying that the essay is dead,” John Leonard observed in 1982. “This is always [...]
A Quick and Comprehensive Guide to Type
Tonight we’ll be blocking my big scene as FDR in Annie. In this speech, delivered to students at UNC, Roosevelt is more playful than he is in his better known more formal speeches (his first inaugural “The only thing we have to fear” and the Pearl Harbor “A date that will live in infamy“). Here. [...]