Poetry of the First World War

Today we broached the world of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke. The focus was on the way the English language became transformed during this period with the direct impact of the horrors of the First World War. The jingoistic idealism of Rupert Brooke was kicked out by the hard hitting, grating,…

The Early Twentieth Century

Blog Topics for Week 3 – Based on Weeks One and Two The Early Twentieth Century- Gerard Manley Hopkins & Joseph Conrad Chose any one topic for this week. Be creative, concise and edit your work carefully! Enjoy 1/ Take the first line of any one of Hopkins’ poems and write your own poem celebrating…

Top 19th Century Lit ePortfolios ACU 2016

There were some truly outstanding ePortfolios in this group of ACU students celebrating their experience and insight into the work of Romantic poets and the fiction of Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Tolstoy among others. The focus questions underpinning these ePortfolios were Writers and artists in the 19th Century were preoccupied with trying to solve the…

Best Shakespeare Plus 2016 ePortfolios

There have been some fantastic ePortfolios from students completing their Shakespeare Unit this semester. Plays covered included Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear and The Tempest along with the bard’s sonnets and miscellaneous poetry from around Shakespeare’s time. Students had to consider the ways in which Shakespeare’s art still speaks to our experience in the…

Shakespeare Performances 2016

What a wonderful collection of performances from the Shakespeare group today: scenes from Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear and The Tempest. What a treat! So well done, with little time for rehearsal and yet so much learned about what it needs to bring Shakespeare to life on the stage. I am sure that you all see…

Tolstoy’s Short Fiction

What a wonderful treat we have had to finish off our Nineteenth Century Literature with these two masterworks, “The Death of Ivan Illych” and “Master and Man”. Both stories present with such wonderful insight the ways in which humans delude themselves into believing in the self they carry around with them all day. Ivan Illych…

Twentieth Century Oz Lit Poetry and Prose Part 2

This week we finished our exploration of Patrick White’s amazing depiction of contemporary Australian society: its emptiness, but also its powerful potential for renewal in “Down at the Dump” and “Miss Slattery’s Demon Lover”- both in The Burnt Ones (1964). As a prelude to David Malouf‘s visit to us in a fortnight we explored “The Year of the Foxes”,…

The Tempest Part 2

  Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a play about many things; in one way it is as the large as The Globe itself! However, at its heart it is concerned with the power of art, of drama, of poetry, of music as transformative agents in a crazy, greedy world full of conflict and opposition. If Shakespeare’s message could…

George Eliot and Leo Tolstoy

Two nineteenth century masters of creative prose, both these amazing authors focussed on the inner lives of their characters and tried to show what it takes to become more fully human. Their interest was psychological and spiritual. They sought to document what it is that closes the soul up and inhibits the growth of the…

George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning & Matthew Arnold:Responses to the Condition of England.

All art, at its heart tries to rectify the destructive conditions of existence on this planet. In the words of the Australian poet A.D. Hope:  Arguably, the writers and artists of the 19th Century were all, in their own way, attempting to maintain “the frame and order of the world”, trying to resolve the huge…

Australian Poetry and Prose in the Early 20th Century

We had fun today exploring a range of authors: John Shaw Neilson, Miles Franklin, Frederic Manning, M.Barnard Eldershaw, Judith Wright, Rosemary Dobson, Francis Webb and Gwen Harwood. What an amazing cross-section of talent! The one strongest idea that came to me during the lecture was a question that arose after we pondered the meaning of A.D.Hope’s…

King Lear & Cordelia

How can we understand Cordelia’s confrontation with her father King Lear? In the Edwin Sherin directed version with James Earl Jones as Lear,  staged in Central Park New York, King Lear’s violence seems to provoke a response in Cordelia which is a mirror of her father. Like father like daughter? Is there any grace in this Cordelia,…

Education of the inner self: Dickens, Mill, Arnold, Newman

The Nineteenth Century was as “distracted from distraction by distraction“as we all are in the early years of the Twenty First Century. The messages sent to us by the “poets” of the inner-self in Victorian England (Dickens, Arnold, Newman … and others) are as relevant to us now as they were then. Matthew Arnold had…

Mid 19th Century Australian Poetry

What a wonderful contrast is made by Charles Harpur’s “A Mid-Summer Noon in the Australian Forest” (1851) and Henry Kendall’s “Bell-Birds” (1869). Kendall as a protegé of Harpur invested his picture of the Australian forest – “Bell Birds“- with meaning and magic, but his purpose was entirely opposite to that of his master (Harpur). This…

Shakespeare/ Victorianism & Charles Dickens – Week 6

Thomas Carlyle the great Victorian historian, close friend of Charles Dickens wrote these wonderful words which have been carved in stone in the foyer to the Mitchell ( State Library) in Sydney. This is where many of us visited the Shakespeare Room this week. But for those of studying Charles Dickens and Victorianism, these words…

Oscar Wilde and Victorianism

It has been so good to look back at all the features of Victorianism from the end of the century perspective provided by Oscar Wilde! I wonder how the Wilde of 2090 will review the shenanigans of the first decades of the 21st century? An interesting speculation! At all events, with Wilde’s hindsight one can…

Romeo & Juliet- Bell Shakespeare

This would have to be one of the liveliest, most powerful productions of Romeo and Juliet! Congratulations to the director, Peter Evans and the whole cast who brought the inner significance of this play so vividly, so entertainingly alive. In his pre-performance interview Peter Evans had spoken about the vitality of Juliet as a character. And Kelly…

End of Week 3: The Importance of Being Earnest: A Backward Glance at the Nineteenth Century.

What a buzz for us all to see The Importance of Being Earnest performed by an utterly world-class production by the National Theatre of London. David Suchet as Lady Bracknell would have to be one of the most GROTESQUE stage presences we have seen in a long time And this hard angular, masculine, pompous, utterly self-important…

Week 2 Summer/Autumn Semester

Another fabulous week of literature and life! I thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring Kim Scott’s That Dead Man Dance with Oz Lit students today. This is an amazing work that really brings to life an indigenous experience of life in relation to landscape and everything in it. It does this so powerfully through the sharp contrast…

Welcome to Literature & Life 2016

This semester I am running four units: Australian Literature (on Campus & at Mount Druitt with a group of Clemente students); Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature and Nineteenth Century Literature (Revolutions in Writing).  I will be posting regular blogs into this WordPress site in each of these units under the category names that you can see…

BEST ePortfolio/Blogs SPRING 2015

Hello All, I want to share with you this amazing list of the best ePortfolio/blogs produced by ACU students during the second half of 2015. For their ePortfolios they had to showcase their best Creative and Critical Blogs, their Peer Reviews of others in the group, and they had to answer a broad question on…

Language, Race and Culture : 2

Marlene Nourbes Philip and Salman Rushdie are both committed to expressing the ways in which writers can express freedom through both embracing aspects of the culture they are living in and holding onto the narratives, the modes of thinking of their own cultures. Marlene in her “Discourse on the Logic of Language” powerfully dramatizes the…

David Malouf- Fly Away Peter

In today’s lecture we spent time exploring the last few pages of this amazing novel Fly Away Peter. Malouf’s creativity is so attuned to his characters’ inner experience that it is very hard not to be deeply moved by what his characters experience. This is the power of his creative skill, shaping sentences, phrases, images to draw…

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