Sunday 1 September 2013

Story Writing Skill: English Language Writing Styles

This was the writing task given to the students to work in a group. They were asked to develop a story from the given image. It was famous Panchtantra fable - The Lion and the Rat. The story written was to be submitted in 'Comments' section below the blog post.
You will find three comments below the blog and all three have different writing style. It ranges from simplistic writing in matter-of-fact style to highly literary style of giving an effect of emotions to environment. I hope you will enjoy reading the difference in three styles of writing.

Visit this 'Blog 4 Teaching & Learning: Story Writing' to give your comments.
The content of this blog with comments are copy-pasted here:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Story Writing

Develop below given points into a story:
Write your story in the 'comments box'. To write in the 'coment box', clik on 'comments' at the end of this blog. Wait for the new page to open. Write in the given space and publish your comment. Use your google account for log in and identification. Publish one post named as 'Feedback on Story Writing'. Teacher's comments on your story will be published in the 'comments' of your blog.

Lion sleeping beneath a tree - rat came to play - climbed over the body of the lion - unknown to dangers, rat started playing with whiskers of the lion - lion wake up - angrily roared - rat trembled - lion ready to savour the rat - the rat begged to be pardoned - promised to help him in the hours of need - arrogance of lion smugged at rat - left alive - lion trapped by hunter in the net - roared for help - rat came with fellow friends - lion saved - friends forever.
The moral of the story is:
1. Friend in need in friend indeed.
2. Never trust mousy friends.
3. One never knows how one can be helpful to others.


  1. Once a lion was sleeping beneath a tree suddenly a rat came to play there. It climbed over the body of the lion. It was
    unknown to the dangers and it started playing with whiskers of the lion. Soon the lion woke up and roared angrily. The rat
    started trembling. The lion was ready to svour the rat. The rat begged the lion to pardon and promised to help him in the
    hours of need. At that time, the arogant lion smugged at the rat and left it alive. After some days the lion was trapped
    by hunter in the net. The lion began to roar for help. soon the rat came with fellow friends and saved the life of lion.
    And then they were friends forever.

    The moral of the story is:

    - One never knows how one can be helpful to others.
  2. Once upon a time,in a thick and dreadful forest,a lion was sleeping beneath the tree.Suddenly, a cheerful rat came to play for a while.
    There he saw a lion.Unknown to the dangers of lion,he climbed over the body of the lion and started playing with his whiskers.
    suddenly,the lion woke up and roared in anger.The rat was trembling in fear.Watching a trembling rat,the lion pitied him.The rat was ashamed
    for his deed and begged to be pardoned.He also promissed the lion that he will help him in his critacal times.
    The lion,in a mood of disgust smugged at rat ang left him alive.Then one day a group of hunters trapped the lion in a net.
    A poor lion roared for help.As soon as the rat came to know about the trapping of lion,he came with a few friends and cut the
    net.In this way he saved the lion.After that incident,they remained friends forever.

    1.A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    2.Never underestimate anyone in your life because you never know how one can be helpful to others.
    3.friendship is like water,no shape,no place,no
    taste.But it is still essential for living.
  3. The arrogant Lion was sleeping beneath a barren tree and his arrogance,too,was,adding even bitter barrenness to the nature by making it dismal and gloomy.In such atmospheare small,innocent infant Rat came in a jovial mood.Being in jovial mood infant started playing with the lion by climbing over the body of the lion without knowing the danger in it.In his pleasing mood the rat continued to play with whiskers of the lion.On such pleasing atmospheare where tree forgot to blossom,wind forgot to blow,they got their charm and sense of being a part of nature.But before such happened the lion woke up and roared angrily.Everything became barren as it was before.The rat got trembled.In his fury the lion was ready to savour the rat.The rat,innocent and small creature succumbed and begged to be pardoned.This small creature assured him to help in the hours of need in the best possible way he 'CAN'.
    But,how can a small creature help 'A KING'?.The king smugged the rat and gave him a chance to live.
    The flow of time never remains the same.After few days The king was trapped by hunters in the net.It was so called pity of him.He craved and roared for help.The rat,being a being of blood and flesh,without thinking anything came with fellow friends and anyhow managed to save the King by cutting the stings of tne net.Only afterwards the lion understood the value of friendship and became the friends forever.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Worksheet - 'Hamlet' Movie Screening

Screening Movie: Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Hamlet’. Based on William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’

Pre-Viewing Tasks:
  •          Genre of the Play – Tragedy  > Shakespearean Tragedy > Revenge Tragedy
  • ·         Plot Overview of the Play
  • ·         Play as Renaissance Text – Renaissance Humanism: “What a piece of work is man . . .”
  • ·         Why delay in taking revenge? Moral anxiety, uncertainty of truth, appearance and reality, human predicament. Oedipus complex.
  • ·         Plot Structure of the Play: T.S. Eliot: ‘artistic failure’ & Freytag’s pyramidical plot structure.
  • Various approaches to Hamlet: i) Textual Analysis, ii) Genre Study, iii) Historical & Biographical Study, iv) Moral Philosophical Approach, v) Psychoanalytical Approach, vi) Mythological & Archetypal Approach, vii) Feminist Approach, viii) Cultural Studies, ix) Formalist Approach: Dialectic as Form
While - Viewing Tasks:

  • ·         Hamlet’s Madness – his dual personality – when with himself/Horatio (Ego/alter-ego) and when with ‘Others’.
  • ·         The beginning. Symbolic significance of Ghost Scene.
  • ·         Scene: This too too solid flesh . . . Frailty, thy name is women.
  • ·         Scene: What a rogue, slave ass am I . . . bloody, bawdy villain!  Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindles villain! , vengeance! . . . The spirit that I have seen  May be the devil
  • ·         Scene: Play within the play
  • ·         Scene: Polonius – the father: a man of practical affairs – his advises to son and daughter – spying son.
  • ·         Scene: To be or Not to be, that is the question!
  • ·         Scene: Nunnery Scene: Mirror Scene
  • ·         Scene: Claudius’s Prayer Scene & Hamlet’s moral dilemma: Pray can I not -
  • ·         Scene: Gertrude’s bedchamber scene: Second appearance of Ghost – visible only to Hamlet and murder of Polonius.
  • ·         Scene: Ophelia’s madness
  • ·         Scene: Laertes’ s anger & motives to avenge his father’s murder
  • ·         Scene: How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge! What is a man, If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more . . . O, from this time forth, 
  • My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
  • ·         Scene: Grave Digging Scene
  • ·         Scene: Fencing scene: Duel between Hamlet and Laertes.
  • ·         Scene: The End: Fulfilled the call for sacred duty to avenge the murder of father.

Post – Viewing Tasks:
(Give responses to these questions in the comment section below this blog-post)
  • ·         How faithful is the movie to the original play?
  • ·         After watching the movie, have your perception about play, characters or situations changed?
  • ·         Do you feel ‘aesthetic delight’ while watching the movie? If yes, exactly when did it happen? If no, can you explain with reasons?
  • ·         Do you feel ‘catharsis’ while or after watching movie? If yes, exactly when did it happen? If no, can you explain with reasons?
  • ·         Does screening of movie help you in better understanding of the play?
  • ·         Was there any particular scene or moment in the movie that you will cherish lifetime?
  • ·         If you are director, what changes would you like to make in the remaking of movie on Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’?
  • In the beginning of the movie, camera rolls over the statue of King Hamlet out side the Elsinore castle. The movie ends with the similar sequence wherein the statue of the King Hamlet is hammered down to the dust. What sort of symbolism do you read in this? (Clue: In Book IX of 'Paradise Lost', Satan reflects on his revenge motive:       "But what will not ambition and revenge; Descend to? Who aspires must down as low; As high he soared, obnoxious, first or last, To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long back on itself recoils." Is it not King Hamlet's ambition to avenge his death responsible for the downfall of his kingdom which is symbolically pictured in last scenes?)
  • While studying the play through movie, which approach do you find more applicable to the play? Why? Give reasons with illustrations.
  • Which of the above mentioned approaches (in Pre-viewing task) appeals you more than other?Why? Give reasons.
  • Take this QUIZ on the play 'Hamlet' to check your understanding of the play:
     Quiz on Hamlet


  • Hamlet. By William Shakespeare. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh. Prod. David Barron. Warner Home Video, 1996.
  • —. Hamlet. Ed. Charles Kean. 10 January 1859. 24 August 2013 .
  • Guerin, Wilfred L., Earle Labor, Lee Mrogan, Jeanne C Reesman, John R. Willingham, ‘A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature’, OUP. 2006.
  • Eliot, T.S. Hamlet and His Problems. The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism.  1922.
  • Freytag, Gustav. Die Technik des Dramas (Technique of the Drama). 1863
  • The Films of Kenneth Branagh by Samuel Crowl. Shannon Blake Skelton. Theatre Journal, Vol. 58, No. 4, Film and Theatre (Dec., 2006), pp. 714-715 (article consists of 2 pages) Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.2307/25069943 Stable URL:
  • Shakespeare at the Cineplex: The Kenneth Branagh Era by Samuel Crowl. Peter Parolin, The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 36, No. 4 (Winter, 2005), pp. 1185-1186, (article consists of 2 pages) Published by: The Sixteenth Century Journal DOI: 10.2307/20477651. Stable URL:
  • Thank You, Kenneth Branagh. Brenda Walton. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. Vol. 49, No. 7 (Apr., 2006), pp. 556-559. Published by: WileyArticle Stable URL:
  • A Touch of Vaudeville. Steve Vineberg. The Threepenny Review. No. 71 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 19-21.  Published by: Threepenny ReviewArticle Stable URL:
  • Sharing an Enthusiasm for Shakespeare: An Interview with Kenneth Branagh. Gary Crowdus and Kenneth Branagh. Cinéaste, Vol. 24, No. 1 (1998), pp. 34-41. Published by: Cineaste Publishers, IncArticle Stable URL:
  • HAMLET by Kenneth Branagh. Manuel Quinto. El Ciervo. Año 46, No. 556/557 (julio-agosto 1997), p. 38. Published by: El Ciervo 96, S.A.Article Stable URL:

Monday 12 August 2013

4. Aristotle to Beckett: From Greek Theatre to Absurd Theatre

Academic Year 2013-14: 
Post 4: Meaning of Literature to Meaninglessness in Literature

During last two weeks (29 July to 10 August 2013), I passed through a Tiresian sort of  experience  - 'throbbing between two lives' - from Aristotle's concept of literature, his 'canonization' of literature, his giving meaning to literature, his optimism in deathly tales of tragedies, his Oedipus- the defiant against the Destiny; to Samuel Beckett's 'Nothing to be done', his meaninglessness in literature, his pessimism in nothingness of human condition, his Sisyphean happiness in human predicament of life where - "They give birth astride the grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more".

Samuel Beckett

In Semester 1, we ended our discussion on Aristotle's 'Poetics'. I 'pitied' students' predicament and concluded rather hurriedly, without giving more time for discussion and engaging them in brainstorming age old Aristotelian concepts. I will show them 'fear' in the handful of dust when it comes to discuss 'possible and necessary' questions. The presentations of important points discussed will be embedded soon on this post so that late admissions and absent (physical as well as mental) students can get themselves abreast.
In Semester 3, we are still debating meanings in meaninglessness. Yes, it is, indeed, a difficult task to switch over from Aristotle to Samuel Beckett. They both stand wide apart in the basic concept of literature. Aristotle attempts, and quite successfully, to defend and define first ever definition of Tragedy in particular, and literature in general. Beckett’s plays presented life as meaningless, and one that could simply end in casual slaughter[1].
Nevertheless, their difference and polarization of ideas seems to be locking horns at each other. But in fact, they deal with one and the same thing. Aristotle heavily relied on Sophocles’s ‘Oedipus the Rex’ to bring home his arguments. And William Hutchings helps to connect the dots. Let me quote at length from his book ‘Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot: A Reference Guide’ (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005): “Since the beginning of Western drama in ancient Greece in the 5th century B.C., three plays have generated, captivated more diverse interpretations, raised more profound questions, captivated more audiences’ imaginations, and provoked more arguments than any others – or even, quite possibly, more than all others combined.” (I like the ‘shape of this sentence’. I borrow this from what Samuel Beckett once wrote: “I am interested in the shape of ideas even if I do not believe in them. There is a wonderful sentence in Augustine. . . “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.” That sentence has a wonderful shape. It is the shape that matters.”).  Let us continue with Hitchings: “The fist, Sophocles’s ‘Oedipus Rex’ (also known as ‘Oedipus Tyrannus’ or ‘Oedipus the King’, was written in the fifth century B.C. in ancient Athens; the second, William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, was first performed in London circa 1602; the third is Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’, which had its premiere in a very small theatre in Paris in 1953. Each of these plays has a seemingly endless ability to fascinate – and to perplex – its audiences, in part because its plot raises questions for which there can be no easy answers or final resolutions: Did Oedipus have free will in taking the actions that he did, even when he unknowingly killed his father? Or was his fate entirely determined or predestined by the Gods? Is Prince Hamlet mad, or is he not? Is the Ghost that he sees real, or is it NOT? If real, is it telling the truth, or is it not? And, most strangely of all, why are these two trams on this desolate landscape waiting beside a tree for Mr. Godot whom they might not recognize and who does not – and may not – arrive? Why isn’t much ‘happening’ here? What’s it meant to mean?”.
He further writes: “One reason for the three plays’ continuing appeal is that each challenges its audiences and its readers to think about profound questions about the naute of the world in which we live; about the meaning of life itself; and , especially, aobut how we know what we think we know about the universe, about other people, and even about ourselves. Each in its own way embodies issues that have vexed philosophers and theologians for years. ‘Oedipus Rex’ asks us to consider whether gods or humans are fundamentally in control of the world; whether we all have destinies that are inexorable, unavoidable, and preordained; and whether there are circumstances in which we can – or even should – try to defy the will of the gods and the edicts that they issue. ‘Hamlet’, similarly, questions the ‘kind’ of universe we live in – whether justice can be found in this world or the next (if at all), and whether we can ever know with certainty the truth of our situations and then act with moral responsibility when and if we think we do. ‘Waiting for Godot’, in many ways, simply extends those uncertainties: why are we here? Are we alone in an uncaring universe, or not? What are we to do while we are here? How can we know? And, ultimately, what does it matter?
However profound the questions that they raise and however disturbing the answers that they provoke, these plays are fundamentally ‘not’ philosophical treatises or sermons. The source of their perennial popular appeal lies, emphatically, elsewhere: despite quite dissimilar styles, they share uniquely theatrical eloquences, a poetry that is embodied in performance, conveyed not only through language but through the predicament which Oedipus, Hamlet and two Tramps suffers”.(Italic words are mine.)

(More to follow . . .)

Questions from students: 
However, there were many questions raised and settled in the class, some dusted off, the two with which I came home are: 
1) If patriarchy 'conditions' languages, why is it called ‘mother language’ and 
2) If ‘Waiting for Godot’ deals with meaninglessness, why do we say that the meaning of the play in meaninglessness and nothingness and . .  so and so on?

Tuesday 30 July 2013

3: Naturography, Tennis, Monsoon & Workshop

Academic Year 2013-14:
Post 3: Florescence, Rain-tennis, Teaching & Workshop
Florescence: July 2013

The week (22-27 July 2013) was the week full of showers and drizzles. The Rain-God seems to be happy this year. The flora surrounding the Department of English has blossomed in this 'season of mist and mellow fruitfulness' (Keats' To Autumn). One can but not escape from the memory of Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' -  "Fluttering and dancing in the breeze . . . Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. . . the bliss of solitude . . . And then my heart with pleasure fills, . . . And dances with the daffodils."

Nature has curious ways to teach lesson to humans.

Wordsworth has truly said in 'Tabled Turned': "Let Nature be your teacher . . .spontaneous wisdom breathed by health, truth breathed by cheerfulness . . .It may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can . . . Come forth, and bring with you a hearth that watches and receives." How true! How come the vine of flower crept up to the CCTV camera to give us an oxymoron image? How paradoxical is this image - either you call it security or spy camera, it connotes fear & faithlessness - and the lavender flower among green leaves - stands for innocence, beauty & truth! So much of precautions, so much of fear, so much of doubt, so less of trust, so less of reliance! Lavender or green, rocky or leafy, fair or coarse; Nature do not differentiate! And we, the humans, live with walls made up of caste, creed, colour, religion, gender and nationalities; and do not even care to 'mend' the wall!
Well, the tiny little grass with six leaves has great message for those who find that their circumstances and situations are worst among all. Amidst rock solid stones, this soft and fine tissue - nature's beloved little child  - has defiantly sprung out. Perhaps, smilingly says: 'you still have better cards then mine.'

If the monsoon brings heaven on the earth with its beauteous splendour, it also brings in hurdles for out-door games. Many of the tennis-players of clay or grass courts will be having their monsoon vacation, we, the players of tar-cement court, do not take break from playing.
Sports is an addiction, though a healthy one. It is not only the physical fitness which tempts me to procrastinate all important work in the morning hours. Rather, it is psychological relief, a cathartic release from the repressed angst and anxiety. Had I not been playing Tennis, I would have been a spoilsport in relationships. Greeks were true lover of sports-culture. They mothered Olympics. I do not know why, but we do not have sports-culture. 
Thanks to NDTV and Ranbir Kapoor for the campaign - Marks for Sports. Yes, there should be equal marks for those who appear in term-end exams and those who disappear from the class to play games. If you agree, like this Facebook page.

Well, coming to the task of teaching, it was quite wonderful week. Semester 1 students keenly participated in the discussion on Plato's objection to poetry and Aristotle's answer to his Guru. Yes, the week began with Guru-Purnima (22 July). The example of Aristotle's disagreement with his Guru and his giving him fitful answers is one of the best things for students to imbibe. We, rather, believe in too much of obeyance, which does not allow us to disagree with our teachers (Guru). Yes, teachers (Guru) should be honoured and respected, if they deserve; but to obey them in all regards, is not digestible idea. Bowing down breeds slave-culture. Standing head and shoulder with Guru, looking straight into his eyes breeds the culture of leaders. Choice is ours; decent looking slave-culture or defiantly posing leaders. Now, wee cannot afford yet another slavedom.
The chief point of discussion was 'Plato's objection to poetry and Aristotle's defence'. It was observed that Plato confused the study of morals/ethics with that of aesthetics. Aristotle removed the confusion and established study of aesthetic on higher pedestal as compared to philosophy and history. The presentation can be viewed here:

The discussion on Plato's objection to poetry in particular and literature in general, was like dust raising wind. Several of students shared their personal experience on how books helped them fight their personal battles with circumstances. We viewed some thought provoking videos by Chinese Lisa Bu's TED talk on 'How Books can Open Mind' and Jessica Wise's animation on 'How Fiction can change Reality'. The videos are available on YouTube and are embedded here:

Most of the students did not agree with Plato's objection. We do not agree with an Utopian idea of state without poets! Plato confused the study of aesthetics with that of morals & ethics. Aristotle removed that confusion and established literature as the study of aesthetic with specific purpose to please / give aesthetic delight, and not to instruct. Instructions may be given as by product but the ruling principle should be pleasure/delight. Though Aristotle, in his characteristic golden mean approach, seem to give equal importance to delight and moral sense/ moral purpose (instruction). But the question remains to be self-examined: 'Isn't Plato still alive in us?' We love and revere those poets who speak honey to our heart and soothing songs to our souls. But, what if some comes with an axe to break the frozen ice or with hammer to reshape our culturally conditioned minds? Well, the Platonic objection raises like the phoenix from the ashes and cries for the banishment of the breeder of falsehood and the mother of all lies! The writers in exile was reality, is reality and will forever be so. Click these links if you doubt my words:

So, can we say: Plato's truth was truer than Aristotle's? Please post your views in the 'comments' below this post, if you have any say in this matter.

In Semester 3, we concluded discussion on T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. This class is 'clam and free'. Rarely have questions. When students do not question, it is a kind of uncanny feeling which confuses the teacher. The teacher cannot make out whether s/he is so lucid and clear that an obscure poem like 'The Waste Land' has been chewed and digested, almost effortlessly; or the students have understood nothing that that can raise doubt or question in their minds! And I fear the later. 

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot from Dilip Barad

I cannot end this post without the mention of the last day of the week - Saturyday 27th July. The C.O. Jani College of Computer Science invited us to organise workshop on language, soft skills, effective presentation skills and basics on CV, Resume & BioData. Nishant Pandya - fromer student and a faculty of Mahuva BBA/BCA College, dealt interestingly with 'English is not a Language but Languages….
The presentation deals with variants of English language. Language refashions her shape according to social and cultural requirements. Individuals differ in the manner in which they speak, although usually not markedly within a small area. The differences among groups of speakers in the same speech community can, however, be considerable. Heenaba Zala, visiting faculty, Dept. of English, MK Bhavnagar University, made beautiful presentation on 'Soft Skills'. Her presentation can be viewed here: 

The ACE of soft skills: Enhancing Employability from Heenaba Zala

Apart from these presentations, there was something to make us proud. Six of our students make wonderful presentations. Yashpalsinh Gohil, Pratipalsinh Chudasama, Devendra Joshi & Kaushal Desai prepared very engrossing presentation with appropriate images and videos on 'How to make effective PowerPoint Presentation?' Their presentation can be viewed here:

Pratiksha Solanki and Drashti Dave made presentation on 'The Definitions and Differences: Resume, C.V., Bio Data & ePortfolio'. Their presentation can be viewed here: 

Resume/ CV/ Bio-data Differences & e-Portfolio.. from solankipratiksha

Teachers & PG students interacting with UG students of Computer Science 

Sunday 21 July 2013

2: Meetings, Teaching and Presentations

Academic Year 2013-14:
Post 2: Blending Teaching Methods:

The week (15-20 July 2013) was the week full of meetings and most of the time was eaten away by monstrous Mr. Admin. If I have to rewrite Dryden's aphorism: 'The corruption of a Poet, is the Generation of Critick'; I would rather put it as - 'The corruption of a Teacher, is the work known as Meetings and Administration.' The body and mind (fortunately, not the soul), were so exhausted that it fell prey to fever, headache and diarrhoea. Amidst, the work which I do not love to do, if there is anything relieving, it is the time when I am either in the classroom or on the tennis court.

Stone walls do not a prison make, Nor iron bars a cage; Minds 
innocent and quiet take That for an hermitage. (Richard Lovelace)
During let-down moments, the vine like this (see photograph) has some message for us. It makes, if not friendship, at least, adjustment with the iron-twines. It sustains and goes on growing, longer, climbing, twining against the odds - but do not think of ending a life. There are different kinds of suicidal tendencies. The worst of them is not self-slaughter; it is to return back from the path taken for a tough journey.

Well, the classroom interactions went on quite well. In semester 1, we continued out discussion of 'Literature, 'Criticism', 'role of a Critic' & 'difference between theory & criticism'. The class has a few quite impressive fast-learners. They can sense questions and hit answers right on the head of the nail. As most of their responses were on the slides, there was but little space to do board work. So, there are no green board images. Instead, have a look at the presentations discussed in the class. The following three presentations were discussed in the class with quite a lot of discussion.

The discussion ended with a conclusion that it is 'language' and the 'use of language' which makes for the literature. 

The confab on Criticism Vs Creativity was aimed at understanding role of a Critic. A few students came with interesting observations. Say for instance, one of them said: 'the relationship between critic and creative writer is analogous to the relationship between 'Bahu and Saas' (it is daughter-in-law and mother-in-law relation deeply rooted in Indian cultural context). Tom and Jerry can be yet another similar relation. The other student came with an observation that: 'critics are very important as they give new vision to the work of art'.
To a question: 'whether we need a critic when we consume literature outside academic periphery?', some students nodded to the voice that the movie reviews are read before deciding on watching a movie. This confab concluded in congruence: the role of critic is as important as that of creative writer, who is also a critic of life.
The week ended with final discussion on the difference between criticism and theory.
Difference between Literary Theory and Criticism from Dilip Barad
We ended with concluding remark that: 'Criticism is passing judgement on various aspects of literature; whereas, Theory is not judgement, but understanding of the frames of judgement.

 Semester 3: The Waste Land

The Waste Land: III. The Fire Sermon
The Waste Land: V. What the Thunder Said
The teaching of this poem was pedagogically based on I. A. Richards's 'The Practical Criticism;. Purely, New Critical approach. We listened audio of the poem downloaded form and dissected it into bits and pieces. Yes, dissection is the most appropriate word. First of all, we torn the poem apart by separating scenes and images. The collage was operated & individual pictures were separated; and then had microscopic view of the scenes as an individual image before seeing it as a part of whole picture. At the end, we connected the seemingly incongruent images - and the beads got settled with the string to make a rosary! Yes, beads (rudraksha) and rosary (prayer mala) give spiritual connotation, and 'The Waste Land' also ends with very strong spiritual connotation: "Shantih, Shantih, Shantih." The peace that passeth understanding.


Next week, we will discuss some questions (handouts are already distributed) and probable answers - more of an exam oriented teaching - an unavoidable evil!  

Monday 15 July 2013

1: The Beginning of New Academic Year, Classroom Discussion & the Boardwork

Academic Year 2013-14:
Post 1: Blending Teaching Methods: 
From Sage on the Stage to Guide by the Side

What is Literature? (Classroom discussion chalked out on green board
It was fairly good beginning (11 July 2013). The new students are quite impressive. In just two days of interaction, I am impressed. They have 'hyper'-actively participated in the classroom discussion. In normal condition, in the first week, the questions bubbled in the classroom do not exist longer. They burst to die in their infancy. Instead, the questions were tenderly nestled and blown wider in size and higher in the air. See, the image of the board-work. The essence of discussion in chalked out on the green board. 

The Waste Land: An Introduction

 The classes for Semester 3 students commenced quite earlier (24 June 2013). We have a small group of students in this class. Not all are always keen to discuss but a few of them lead the discussion to its destination. We discussed historical, social and economical background of the Twentieth Century English Literature. It was rather an oral discussion with a rare use of board work, and I forgot to take photographs of those interactions. Here are a few images of the discussion on T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Waste Land'. 
The Waste Land: Part 2: A Game of Chess
The students were quite active in responding to the questions chalked on the board. Though, the poem is a puzzle which requires a bunch of keys to unlock it. No single master key can unlock the meaning of 'The Waste Land'. After listening the recitation of the poem, it seems that the students were more participative. The number of students's interaction increased on second day. Tomorrow, we are going to continue with Part III: The Fire Sermon and I expect passionate participation from the students.
The photographs are taken on mobile phone. The Interactive White Boards (IWB) can be better option for sharing teacher's board work with students. In absence of such hi-end technology, even a simple phone with camera features can help in capturing the images of board work.
Normally, I do not use board work a lot in the classroom. I would prefer to have blank PowerPoint screen and pen or simple Word Document to type students interaction. This year, I am planning to blend this (s)age old traditional chalk-and-talk method with blog etc web 2.0 tools. Let's see, how long I can sustain this . . .
(The Department of English, Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University - Gujarat, India)