Remember, remember, the Fifth of November...

Sunday 5 November 2017

Several, somewhat unconnected things...

Interesting article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper today:  famous writers/artists making recommendations of their favourite graphic novels.  If anyone knows some of the less well known ones, or  - even better - has taught them - do say so!  It would be nice to share experiences.

The curriculum review continues apace and there is plenty of lively discussion (!) on the OCC.  It now seems certain that HL will retain a version of written coursework, and I guess I am slightly at odds with Dave in that I am quite pleased to see this happen.  One of the reasons for this is that the course, along with all DP programmes, has to prepare students effectively for university study - and for my money, the skills demanded by this assignment in terms of research, planning, drafting and re-drafting, provide further affirmation of one of the reasons why the DP is so highly regarded by those in tertiary education.  I am also sorry to see the commentary/discussion taken away as an assessment task - again, for the range of skills and ways of thinking about literary works it succeeded in promoting.  To place increasing and majority emphasis on final examinations in my view runs the risk of aligning the course with so many other, more traditional approaches to the study of literature.

In theory, the flexibility being given to us to construct programmes of study that appeal to varied kinds of teaching and learning approaches is of course a good thing - but my fear is that the reduction in assessment tasks, and the absence of variety inherent in them, will discourage this from happening.  Time will tell - but, as Dave says, we will make sure that this site provides you with as much support as necessary in order to accommodate these changes, and to sustain any and all facility to deliver the course in an exciting, dynamic and creative manner.

Sitting by a warm fire on an otherwise cold but clear evening in south east England - the sky is occasionally punctuated by the light of fireworks;  November 5th - commemorative date of the conclusion to Guy Fawkes rather sombre story.  James Shapiro’s book, 1606, has some wonderful things to say about references Shakespeare might consciously or otherwise have been making - first (coincidentally because it was written before the events), in King Lear:  ‘How uncanny was it to have imagined before the Fifth of November a story that turned on a mysterious and forged letter, in a play that took an old tragicomedy and reworked it into a tragedy that ended apocalyptically, with the destruction of the entire British Royal Family?’    And then a few pages later he adds, ‘The Fifth of November, that ‘confection of all villainy’ … prompted not only Shakespeare but everyone else in the land to confront questions they had never been forced to grapple with so deeply or desperately:  how can ordinary people attempt such horrible and unthinkable crimes?  In doing so, what kind of lies or stories must they tell themselves and others?  Does this evil come from satanic forces or from within us?  What binds us together- be it a family or a marriage or a country - and what can destroy these bonds?  Recognising the hunger for a play that probed these very questions how haunting his world, Shakespeare began to think about Macbeth.’ 

(And to think that you sometimes hear people ask what the point is of studying him...)

Finally, this site has been up and running for quite some months and we hope sincerely that it is proving useful.  We would be most grateful, however, if you could let us have feedback. Which are the pages or areas that you value?  Which need more development?  Are there areas or resources you will like more information on, or resources provided?  Please do tell us.  And please do add comments to any individual page - we both check in daily and will respond to queries, concerns or suggestions as quickly as possible.

Mark



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