All posts by John Flood

John Flood lectures in the Department of English Language and Culture at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

Portrait of the Artist

BBC Radio 4 logo

Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is currently running as BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime and the episodes can be heard on the BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09t89gc

The Word of Mouth programme (on English language) has most recently been given over to language and gender identity with an interview with C. N. Lester author of Trans Like Me.

See also the BBC book page which includes various authors and topics on BA and MA syllabuses: Muriel Spark, Frankenstein, book cover design, John Le Carre and Jane Austen.

 

Written Style

A review of three books about style in writing:

A World Without “Whom”: The Essential Guide to Language in the BuzzFeed Age, by Emmy J. Favilla; Bloomsbury, 400 pages, $26.

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker; Viking, 368 pages, $27.95.

Write to the Point: How to be Clear, Correct and Persuasive on the Page, by Sam Leith; Profile Books, 288 Pages, £14.99.

Writing Hand

 

Merchant of Venice

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Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice is often regarded as the most controversial play The Bard has ever written. This is not peculiar: the tale of Italian merchant Antonio who signs a contract with the Jewish Shylock is riddled with antisemitic motives and questions the morality of the law. The Groningen University Theatre Society (GUTS) brings The Merchant of Venice to the Groningen stage in an authentic and completely English rendition.

16-18 February, Vrijdag Theatre. Click here for details.

Note that this play is on the syllabus of the year 2 course Shakespeare & Early Modern Literature.

 

Native English speakers can earn some money – experiment participants wanted

Paid volunteers for study on effects of learning a new language.

Earn up to €150: Participants are paid €10/hour for their time, with a bonus of €20 if all 12 sessions are completed.

What are the consequences for the mind and the brain to learn a new language even for a relatively short time? We are seeking enthusiastic volunteers who want to learn Dutch for 10 days!  This study will take place over the course of 12 sessions. Each session will last between 1 and 1.5 hours.

During Session 1 volunteers will complete simple tasks such as; counting items, remembering sequences, responding to patterns on a screen, and completing a short language history questionnaire. During Sessions 2-11 volunteers will come to the lab and study Dutch through  computerized software. During Session 12 (final session) volunteers will repeat all the tasks that were administered on Session 1.

Requirements:

  • Must be 18 years+
  • Must be a native speaker of English
  • Normal or corrected-to-normal vision
  • Cannot be colorblind
  • Must have no history of neurological trauma (e.g. concussion) or disorder (e.g. seizures), or language disorders

If you would like to participate in this study, please contact Sanna Tahir – stahi001@ucr.edu

If you have questions or concerns about the nature of this research, please contact jfkroll@gmail.com

New Staff Book: Literature and Truth

Richard Lansdown’s latest book has been published. In Literature and Truth he continues a discussion concerning the truth-bearing status of imaginative literature that pre-dates Plato. The book opens with a general survey of contemporary approaches in philosophical aesthetics, and a discussion of the contribution to the question made by British philosopher R. G. Collingwood in particular, in his Speculum Mentis. It then offers six case-studies from the Romantic era to the contemporary one as to how imaginative authors have variously dealt with bodies of discursive thought such as Stoicism, Christianity, evolution, humanism, and socialism. It concludes with a reading going in the other direction, in which the diary of Bronislaw Malinowski is seen in terms of the anthropologist’s reading habits during his legendary Trobriander fieldwork.

Studying and Reading Aloud

A recent paper suggests that the best way to remember the information that you’re reading is to read it aloud. This fits with the findings of previous research. Merely reading is the least effective method of studying material you wish to remember.

In discussing these results, the researchers used the term “the production effect”. This describes the memory advantage one obtains if you say things aloud instead of just hearing the information. The production effect is likely caused through the combined advantage of three factors. First, reading things aloud involves motor processing, making it a more active process. Second, when students read words, it requires an element of visual processing, which may lead to deeper learning rather than just listening. Third, reading aloud is self-referential (i.e. “I said it”), which can make the information more salient.

from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/11/30/why-youre-more-likely-to-remember-something-that-you-read-to-yourself-out-loud/

A New Odyssey

During the age when The Odyssey took form, near the end of the eighth century b.c., the Greeks were voyaging into the world once again after a period of dark decline. They were setting up colonies and resuming the trade that had been interrupted by whatever cataclysmic forces—invasions, rebellions, pestilence, natural disasters—brought down the Bronze Age civilizations of Minoa and Mycenae. Yet the spirit of the second Homeric epic is wary. Unlike The Iliad, which sings of the glorious feats of godlike warriors in a legendary heroic age, The Odyssey tells of a weary man’s fight for survival in the face of threatening Others who can never share his view of the world or take his interests to heart. This besieged sense of a realm seething with social hostilities and deep divisions, in which the very possibility of dialogue seems out of reach, may well strike a chord.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/12/the-odyssey-and-the-other/544110/