Category Archives: Literature (General)

Historical Fiction

Dame Hilary Mantel is roughly half way through her Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4.  Best known for her Tudor novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies (both of which won the Man Booker Prize) Mantel reflects on the nature of historical fiction and whether the genre requires special defense.

The podcasts of the lectures and their transcripts can be found here. Students will be unsuprised to learn that this talented author has Irish roots.

Image result for hilary mantel wolf hall

Critical Thinking

Thinking like a scientist is really hard, even for scientists. It requires putting aside your own prior beliefs, evaluating the quality and meaning of the evidence before you, and weighing it in the context of earlier findings. But parking your own agenda and staying objective is not the human way.

Link: 5 Reasons It’s So Hard To Think Like A Scientist

One of the things that this article warns about is the seduction of anecdotal evidence. I’ll give some of that now.

It seems to me that some students treat simple texts as if they were simplistic and obvious. A text that offers a quick interpretation is often more poorly analysed than an obviously challenging one. Parts of courses (or instructions) that seem clear are often ignored.

5 Reasons It’s So Hard To Think Like A Scientist

Derek Walcott Dies

File:Derek Walcott.jpg
Derek Walcott (Werkgroep Caraibische Letteren; photographer Bert Nienhuis).

 

Sir Derek Walcott (1930-2017), nobel laureate, died on 17 March.  The Saint Lucian poet felt a special bond to early twentieth-century Irish writers so perhaps it was appropriate that he died on St Patrick’s Day.

The Guardian

 

Literature in the News

Jane Austen: blind and perhaps poisoned? (BBC)

The real Ozymandias. Giant statue of Ramesses II discovered. (The Guardian) Thanks to Rocío.

China restricts foreign children’s books (The Financial Times).

With the election of President Trump, the sales figures of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four jumped, and journalists reached for predictable comparisons: see The Desert News.

Orwell
Orwell in Burma (from http://therebelkind.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html)

Deaths of the Poets

File:Plath Grave 2.JPG

What is the cost of poetry? Must poets be melancholic, doomed and self-destructive? Or is this just a myth? In our new Book of the Week, Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley – both award winning poets themselves – explore that very question through a series of journeys across Britain, America and Europe.

This BBC Radio 4 series is currently being broadcast in 15 min episodes that are available for 28 days from now.

Realism and Racism

An excerpt from a message from a recent graduate, now living in the UK, where there is a debate about the importance of the ethnicity of actors and questions of authenticity.


I thought this might be of interest:

https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2017/julian-fellowes-agree-odd-not-diverse-cast-half-sixpence/?utm_content=buffer36dfc&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

There’s been a lot of talk in the theatre circles here about casting, in period dramas and otherwise, as well as discussions and protests about cultural appropriation (for example the protests against Howard Barker’s play: https://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2016/londons-print-room-criticised-for-racist-casting-in-chinese-roles/), with most people making sweeping statements about the ‘purpose’ of theatre, and what it ‘should’ do.