The Wonderful World of Blogging in the Twentieth Century Literature Unit for 2020

Congratulations to All of You for Creating such Wonderful Readable Responses to the Wide Range of Questions posted Each Week:

Blogging has become a powerful transformative aspect of literary teaching that enables students to not only connect creatively with the energies of the writers that they love, but also to share their own intimate connection with these authors and reflect on how they have impacted directly on their own lived experience. None of this is possible in conventional academic research essays, which offers a pale reflection of the kind of engaged connection with literature and the arts that this process provides.

Listen here to one of our talented students Ellie Mccracken singing a song she has written on the theme of how language is both a prison and a release. This is the story of how a “quiet girl” learns how to find her feet and confidence through music:

Read here how another one of our multi-talented students (pianist/ composer/ photographer/ graphic designer)Amadeus Tjong, has described his experience of working on Zoom preparing his part in the Tom Stoppard Play Arcadia which helped all students to be engaged in this unit:

Here in these blogs we can read critical and creative responses to the whole of 20th Century Literature written by the young generation who have just appeared over the horizon into adulthood. They are powered by a sense that the literature and art of the previous century can really provide a living resource for dealing with the traumas of our own 21st Century. They are, many of them, aware of how the task of engaging with literature through informal blogging has freed their imaginations to 1/ connect with poets and novelist through learning their craft through imitation 2/ connect with their peers in sharing thoughts and experiences that have arisen from their mutual reading of the same text.

Blogging has here become a powerful transformative aspect of literary teaching that enables students to not only connect creatively with the energies of the writers that they love, but also to share their own intimate connection with these authors and reflect on how they have impacted directly on their own lived experience. None of this is possible in conventional academic research essays, which offers a pale reflection of the kind of engaged connection with literature and the arts that this process provides.

Read Sarah Vella’s powerful recommendations, based on her direct experience, of how reading and writing about 20th Century literature can provide us with the skills and insights needed to deal with the complexities and difficulties of our own age, in 2021. She summarises her outlook in the sentence:

The aforementioned writers are united in their aim to represent how we, “the people, have the power” (Chaplin) to challenge the war around us and inside our head in order “to make this life free and beautiful” (Chaplin); to make our spirit “express itself in unfettered freedom” (Joyce); and to “have some peace” (Yeats). Read the whole blog here:

Read Alicia Tichhio’s reflections on how studying 20th Century Literature with its landscape of traumas from the 1st World War through the 2nd World War and on to the Cold War has made it possible for her to endure the difficulties of the second decade of the 21st Century.  More importantly read her reflections on how the process of blogging has not only helped her to understand her own life better, but has helped her to connect with the community of literature bloggers and learn so much from what others have written. She writes “blogging has been a relieving escape for me this semester.” Thank you Alicia!

Read Moriah Taylor’s wonderful poem on the way that Yeats’s “Easter 1916” provides a kind of blueprint for our own experience in this bush-fire prone, pandemic-ridden Australian in 2021:

Read one of the top Summative Entries for this Semester by Georgia Houlihan:

Read another one of the top Summative entries for this Semester by Mariama Biro Saibou:

Read Issa Albaba describing his early childhood in war-torn Syria:

Read Mariama Biro Saibou’s prose poem “Language as agent of liberation or enslavement”:

Here Emily Baker describes a relationship to her child:

Hear Grace Mokdassi’s reflection on how T.S.Eliot’s Prufrock still has a special resonance for the world caught in a global pandemic:

Emily Baker describes the complexities of being a lover of language:

Here Jessica Aramini discusses the painful reality of belonging to two cultures and yet not solidly to either:

Read Andrew Carloss’s Summative Entry in which he expresses his sense of Siegfried Sassoon can turn youth today against any sense that war is necessary and also his sense of how Derek Walcott makes a real impact on sensing our responsibilities in multi-cultural Australia:

Read Anna Castagnella’s powerful poem “An Ordinary Day” inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway:

Read Georgia Houlihan’s reflections on being a privileged English speaker in a country where our indigenous brothers and sisters are marginalised through the superiority of language:

Read Andrew Cencic’s thoughts on how our current global chaos will continue to inspire writers in the future:

Read Menae Niotis’s vision of how a covid-ridden world creates new creative possibilities:

Read Joey O’Reilly’s Woolfian description of a day in the life of an ordinary person (like the rest of us all- don’t miss it!

Read Cate Roche’s reflections on how language can both imprison and release:

Watch Cameron Cole’s fascinating reflections on whether Virginia Woolf presents a case for imagination being a way of liberating humans from their prisons:

Read Holly Ibrahim’s powerful blog on the way using language can be a means of liberating us from the difficulties of our present times. A dramatic rendition:

Hear Andrew Colman’s powerful reflections on the creative and destructive powers of language in his poem “I weave a web of worRead

Read Evelyn Kavvalos’s wonderfully romantic vision of true love inspired by James Joyce’s line “I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can…..”

Read Sarah Weaver’s vision of how her wish to express herself “in some mode of life or art as freely as [she] can” (Joyce) will bring some new radiance to a world which seems enclosed in darkness today:

Hear how Maria Khattar’s Blog 5 responds to the following challenging topic:

Much of the literature of the 20th Century has been written in response to momentous events such as the first and second world wars. Draw up a short list of some of the momentous events that have been hitting our planet in the last 5 years and suggest a few ways in which writers might try to make sense of any one of these events. Your response to this suggestion, might itself be a piece of creative prose or poetry.

Find Maria’s response to this in the second blog on this page:

Listen to Frances Saad’s frightening picture of how language can imprison us!

Here is Charmaine Laoulach’s amazingly accurate imitation of Virginia Woolf’s writing in a prose piece entitled “Am I OK”:

Listen to Delaura Cauchi’s poem on “Challenging the TYRANNY  of English Culture”- inspired by post-colonial poets:

Here is Vyncianne’s reflections on the prison of language:

Here is Annie Devine’s questions about a career path which is equally divided between words and gestures:

Listen to Alexandra Licata’s powerful poem, “The Stolen Generation” about the way the imprisoning language of English has had a devastating, negative impact on our indigenous brothers and sisters:

Here is Georgia Houlihan’s letter to W.B. Yeats in which she reflects on the continuing relevance of the poem “The Second Coming” to our own difficult century:

Here is how Isabella Di Giandomenico discovers Woolf’s belief in the power of the imagination can help us in these COVID-ridden times:

Here is Jessica Dilworth’s poem on language as both imprisonment and release:

Here Charmaine Laoulach powerfully describes her response to James Joyce’s line

“I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can…..”

Listen to Teannie Makdessi’s reflections on how Yeats’ “Prayer for My Daughter” connects with her own experience and helps in her understanding of the world in which we currently live:

Read also the way that, for Teannie, James Joyce has helped to give her a real understanding of the importance of creative writing as an element of the way in which we can nurture ourselves and combat the difficulties of our environment:

Here is Marnita Hermiz’s explorations on the theme of language as a prison:

Here is Jada Brown’s vision of how following James Joyce’s advice can help overcome the pain of seeing a friend pass away with leukemia:

Have a look at Emily McNaught’s pigeon pair of blogs one describing her desperate need to go to her grandparents’ farm to escape the restrictions of Covid- Emily is also an amazingly talented user of visual support for her blogs!:

and here is her powerful Joycean wish to be free, to live as wholly as she can, no more “what ifs”:

Here are Caitlin Burke’s reflections on the difficulties of having a multi-cultural background (something nearly all of us share!!):

And here is Teneille Jacobsen’s discover of the real meaning of love in being MC at her friend’s wedding. And this is one of the most beautifully constructed blogs – don’t miss it:

Here also is Jared Marks’s vision of the momentous events of the last 5 years that might trigger some of this century’s great literature:

Finally Read Rhys Weller’s comic poem that takes up the theme of Language as a Prison. Read it right here:

Short Stories by Alice Walker and Tim Winton

What a wonderful closing session we had to day with Ian, Wei, Ben, Jimmy, Rosanna and myself, discussing the themes and ideas in these two powerful stories by two of the world’s best contemporary story tellers: African American Alice Walker and Australian surfer Tim Winton. Listen in to the lecture here:

And here is the white board for today’s session, followed by the slides that cover the whole of the last two weeks:

Short Stories by Kate Chopin and Henry Lawson!

So today is our second week of work on the genre of Prose Fiction and these two authors exemplify a range of techniques and express a variety of themes. Check out our White-Board Discussion file below and listen in to the video lecture that we all enjoyed on Zoom:

Lecture on our Art Gallery Visit, linking literary texts to some of the paintings.

This amazing painting by Ford Madox Brown in the mid-19th Century shows the powerful interconnections between literature and art. Here is a depiction of the Father of English Poetry, Geoffrey Chaucer, reading his wonder Canterbury Tales to the King. And there are all the medieval people around him who might have formed part of his pilgrimage troupe. Look at the video lecture below to see and hear some of Chaucer’s words speaking out of this very picture! Enjoy!

Click here to listen and watch. Here are some great insights by our students on their experience of the art works viewed together with reflections on literary texts inspired by the paintings or vice versa:

We also on this day began discussing the prose that we will be exploring over the next few weeks. This includes the following authors, all in the Clemente Anthology for this unit:

Kate Chopin (White American- 19th Century)

Henry Lawson (Australian- 19th Century)

Alice Walker (Black American- 20th-21st Century)

Tim Winton (Australian-20th-21st Century)

Here also are the lecture slides that accompanied this introduction:

Concluding Blog Topics for 20th Century Literature 2020

The Twentieth Century
Oil on canvas. 84.7 x 77.7 cm

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Inv. no. 474

We have started exploring some of the work of those writers who challenge the tyranny of English culture on their own lives, while at the same time demonstrating their passionate commitment to English as an expressive medium. What a paradox!

We have found this in M.Nourbese Philip and now in James Joyce. We are going to find it also in a number of other writers appearing next week.


1/ Write a poem or a short prose passage that illustrates the ways in which language can be both a prison and a release from prison.

2/Write a paragraph that continues this sentence be James Joyce and the expresses your own hopes for your life:

” I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can…..”

3/ Write a short paragraph which gives some insight into the tensions that occur in your own life between the traditions of your own family and the traditions of English Australian culture – as you perceive them.

4/ Much of the literature of the 20th Century has been written in response to momentous events such as the first and second world wars. Draw up a short list of some of the momentous events that have been hitting our planet in the last 5 years and suggest a few ways in which writers might try to make sense of any one of these events. Your response to this suggestion, might itself be a piece of creative prose or poetry.

5/ Summarise your sense of what is most powerful in the literature you have read this semester. Give a couple of powerful examples to illustrate what has touched you most.

Mission Australia/ Clemente/ Art Gallery Visit 8th October 2020: How does understanding the visual arts deepen my understanding of the way literature communicates its experiences, its stories…. ??

Audio Recording of our walk round the gallery:

A walk around the gallery from contemporary Australian art through to the age of Shakespeare!

Here are the art works that we explored. Look at these along with the audio above:

Some Fabulous Posts from Students working on Twentieth Century Literature in 2020 the year of Covid 19

These students, many of them bound to their home/bedroom offices since March 2020 are working passionately on their literary understanding. These blogs show a heightened creativity in times of crisis and reveal a wonderful range of experiences triggered by their reading of early twentieth century authors. What comes through very strongly is the extent to which students are both comforted by and shocked by the extent to which the times in the 1920s were not dissimilar to the times in the 2020s. At all events these blogs show active, creative young minds making sense of their own complex experiences, filtered through their creative and critical reading of some of the greats of the early twentieth century: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Siegfried Sassoon, May Cannan, Wilfred Owen, Viriginia Woolf, Picasso, Munch, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and more…. enjoy:

Sarah Vella’s reflections on Prufrock and Covid 19

Holly Ibrahim’s reflections on the isolation caused by the Pandemic:

Jessica Dilworth’s poem inspired by “The Waste Land”:

Isabella Di Giandomenica’s celebration of her Italian Grandparents:

Emilee McNaught’s reflections on Wilfred Owen’s horror at war and the continuing relevance of his message today:

Amadeus’s video VLOG on Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”:

Isabel Toma’scelebration of the arrival of her cousin/brother- wonderful heart-warming piece!

Maria Khattar’s heartbreaking blog about the violent explosion in her own homeland Beirut:

Mariama Biro Saibou’s wonderful multi-cultural version of T.S. Eliot – :

Holly Ibrahim’s reflection on the Egyptian roots of her being:

Vanessa Mitchell catches a bus at 15 over the harbour bridge…

Teneille Jacobsen’s moment of being an MC at a wedding:

Alexander Licata’s amazing transformation of Rupert Brooke’s Soldier into an anti-war poem:

Evelyn Kavvalos’s understanding of how Wilfred Owen has a strong message for our own times of isolation:

Georgia Houlihan’s amazing resource kit on the First World War poets :

Andrew Carloss’s powerful, and honest reevaluation of his attitudes to war and memorials through his response to Sassoon’s poem on the Menin Gate. It is wonderful to see Sassoon’s insights resonating more than 100 years after they were written.

Emilee McNaught’s powerful interpretation of T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock” and the relevance of the experience to our own times:

Charmaine Laoulach’s Imagist poem about the homeless in mid-winter,  in August!

Amadeus Tjiong’s ekphrastic poem on Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907)

Sarah Weaver’s reflections on Sassoon: “I fought thinking it was honourable and died in some of the most inhumane ways and all I got was this plaque”-

Reilly Winch’s powerful condemnation of a world that is STILL enmeshed in so much violence despite what we haven’t learned through two world wars.

W.B. Yeats & Virginia Woolf

Blog Topics Emerging from Week 8 and earlier….

Take the first line of any one of Yeats’ poems that has touched your imagination and write a poem of your own based around the theme of Yeats’ poem. This is a wonderful way of developing your own writing ability and was often recommended as the best way of learning how to find your own poetic voice!

Do any of Yeats’ poems connect with your own personal experience? Select one of Yeats’ poems ( or a section thereof) and discuss how the poem connects with your own understanding of the world in which we live.

Virginia Woolf seems to be intent on showing us that our way of behaving and thinking is both random and pre-determined. Do you think this is a fair assessment of what she is trying to show in her writing?

Virginia Woolf believes in the power of the imagination to liberate human beings from the shackles of their enslavement. Do you have a comment on this statement?

Write a poem or prose paragraph in a style that is rather like Virginia Woolf illustrating and ordinary mind (perhaps your mind) on an ordinary day.

Please remember that you can create your own blog topic on any subject that links with what we have been doing in the last few weeks. It is always good to weave your own personal experience into your blogs.

Hamlet for Clemente (Mission Australia Students 2020) Week 2.

Please find here the annotated pages from the Shakespeare School Shakespeare which is the set text for these students. You will be able to help your students more effectively if you familiarize yourself with these pages. Each week the relevant documents will be posted here, as will the recordings of their 2 hour class.

As well as helping our students understand the concepts in these texts more effectively, the two questions that I am especially wanting students to focus on is

1/ What range of emotions does Horatio present in this scene? Clues for answers to this can be fond on page 2 of the Hamlet text document (Act 1 Scene 1) below

2/ What themes can you identify in this scene. Clues for answers to this can be found on page 12 of the Hamlet text document (Act 1 Scene 1) below.

Here is the URL for today’s Zoom lecture on Shakespeare’e Language and on Act 1 Scene 1 of Hamlet:

Topic: Michael Griffith’s Personal Meeting Room
Start Time : Aug 27, 2020 01:55 PM

Meeting Recording:

T.S.Eliot, literary modernism and the quest for meaning.

T.S.Eliot, right from the start of his career was a passionate seeker for truth. This expressed itself in the metaphor of the journey which runs right through his whole work from “Prufrock” through to “The Four Quartets”. What truth was Eliot seeking? He was clearly living at a time of universal fragmentation, immediately after the First World War and like Picasso he looked directly at what was in front of him and saw the cracks in everything around him, from the material world through to human relationships and the individual human soul.


Eliot’s quest in poetry was to look with remorseless honesty at everything around him and in him, and in this deep seeing it was as if he found- not a solution- but a ballast against the disintegrating forces all around him. It was maybe this capacity of his for seeing and not flinching that led him towards the end of his life to embrace the path of the religious seeker. We had a taste of this in “Little Giddint” from The Four Quartets. 

Blog Topics for this week

1/ Write a short poem in the style of the Imagists and explain what you think the Imagists were trying to do with their radically new approach to language.

2/ Near the end of Eliot’s “The Waste Land” he writes

“These fragments I have shored against my ruin”.

In the spirit of Eliot’s vision of the world, write a poem or a short prose passage that uses this line as its opening.

3/ Describe the Picasso painting above. In other words paint his picture IN WORDS. Say briefly what makes it “modernist”. Your piece, whether in poetry or prose, will be Ekphrastic writing!!

4/ Have you experienced, or do you know someone who has experienced any of the situation described in “The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock”? Tell their or YOUR story about what it feels like to be him.

5/ As always: create your own topic! Remember to incorporate visual elements into your blog!!

ENGL104 Clemente Introduction to Literature August 2020

Here are the slides and the recording for this week’s lecture. The recording is a little frustrating to listen to because you will only be able to hear my side of the conversation. From next week I will be posting up the video version of our sessions (with student permission) and you will then be able to hear both sides of the conversation. You will be able to see the whole session on your student’s screen when you are working with them as learning partners.

creativity in time of war

Today we broached the world of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen 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, consonantal observation of Sassoon and Owen ( and others): “Tins, boxes, shapes too vague to know; /a mirror smashed…”God blast your neck! Get up and guide me through this stinking place.””Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, /Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge…” – All the horror and detritus of human beings totally abandoned, mired in a landscape totally destroyed.

What did these poets bring to this landscape through their unrelenting vision of human bestiality? Was it their capacity to see unflinchingly, to see wholly, to see with compassion, sympathy and with the deep necessary satiric irony that all governments need to be subject to?

We discussed very much the way that creative artists have the power to make us see the world in new ways, often shocking us (and society at large) into realising that our usual responses may be inhumane and completely inappropriate.

Charlie Chaplin is one of the great creators who dared to challenge both the first and the second World War with his extraordinary mimicry.

Here are some Blog Topics you might consider for this area. Remember you are also entirely permitted to create topics of your own if you think they fit in to our discussions this week. These topics can of course draw on your own experience as much as on the literature we have been looking at. 

Blog Topics for Week Your First Week of Blogs:

1/ CREATIVE Take the first line of any one of the poets studied this week, and in the style of that poet, compose your own poem about the horror of wars as you might imagine them.

2/ CREATIVE Write a letter to Sassoon or Owen telling them that their vision, their ideas are still sorely needed in the world today.

3/ CRITICAL Create a mini-digital kit that helps newcomers with some great resources for understanding the power of war poetry.

4/ CRITICAL How does your response to Sassoon’s “On Passing the New Menin Gate” make you reassess your reaction to war memorials in your own country? Try to be as honest as you can about this.

5/ CREATIVE Create an atmospheric youtube video of yourself reading and commenting on one of the war poems we have been exploring:

6/ CRITICAL How effective do you think Charlie Chaplin was with his creative challenge to war?

Please look out for the list of Peer URLs so that you can get started on your peer reviews.


The Early Twentieth Century

Blog Topics for Week 3 – Based on Weeks One and Two


The Early Twentieth Century- Introduction to the 20th Century & Gerard Manley Hopkins 

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 the arrival of Spring in your part of the world. Try to incorporate some of Hopkins’s amazing experimentation with language texture especially with sounds.

2/ “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” (God’s Grandeur)

“Selves – goes itself; myself it speaks and spells” (“As kingfishers catch fire”)

Hopkins’ poetry seems to want to plummet down into the core of things, of human beings: why does he want to do this?

3/Describe an experience in your own life where you seem to have touched something much deeper than your ordinary everyday experience.

4/ An ekphrastic poem is a poem that vividly describes a painting, such as X.J. Kennedy’s poem “Nude Descending a Staircase”  (refer to slides for lecture in Week 2). Try to write your own ekphrastic poem with reference to any one of the paintings shown to you during lectures in the first two weeks. Include an image of the painting in your blog.

5/ To “….compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a moment at the surrounding vision of form and colour, of sunshine and shadows; to make them pause for a look , for a sigh, for a smile…” Do you think this is a noble aim for any kind of artist (novelist, poet, musician, painter)? Discuss in a short paragraph.

Spring-time in the bush around Sydney is upon us!!!!


The Early Twentieth Century

Michael Griffith: Home Page- Literature and Life Winter into Spring! 2020

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 the arrival of Spring in your part of the world. Try to incorporate some of Hopkins’s amazing experimentation with language texture especially with sounds.

2/ “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things” (God’sGrandeur)

“Selves – goes itself; myself it speaks and spells” (“Askingfisherscatchfire”)

Hopkins’ poetry seems to want to plummet down into the core of things, of human beings: why does he want to do this?

3/Describe an experience in your own life where you seem to have touched something much deeper than…

View original post 164 more words

Best Blogs from 19th Century Literature 2020

Overall, an amazing feast of student talent in reflecting on how 19th Century Literature can shed so much light on core issues of human experience in the 21st Century. Thank you All!!

Here is one student Alicia Ticchio reflecting on her semester, writing during the Covid 19 Pandemic, when all studies were on-line using Zoom technology! Thank you Alicia:

This semester I feel has been a bit of a roller coaster. Yet I think that studying this topic in literature was a saving grace. I was introduced to the everlasting art and literature of the Romantic and Victorian ages. I discovered that although the works were produced centuries ago, they are very much still relatable to the concerns of the 21st century….Overall, blogging has been an experience that has excited me in times where it was very much needed. It allowed me to explore my peers work, enabling me to view others understanding of the works we studied. In doing so, I feel I was more enlightened towards appreciating the power that poetry has in illustrating societal issues that are very much relevant today. I was able to heighten my appreciation for my natural surroundings and learnt to keep my mind kind and happy. Although it is unfortunate that these issues of ignorance towards nature are still prevalent today, I think it is wise to note that poetry is just one example that illustrates that there are people who care about our environment and self-wellbeing.

Here is a great blog from one of our international students reflecting on the impact of Covid 19 on her learning. She is from the USA and has been unable to get back to her country. Thank you Lilly:

Here is a wonderful blog on the continuing relevance of Matthew Arnold’s “Scholar Gypsy” on our own times – and a great comparison with T.S.Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”. Thank you Georgia:

A visually stunning Summative Entry. Thank you Amber:

A great poem written in response to the question can you remember a time in your life where “nature was your teacher” (a la Wordsworth). Here is Teneille reflecting on her time in her grandparent’s garden. Thank you Teneille:

Another great poem in response to “let nature be my teacher”- this time with reference to the Snowy Mountains. Thank you Abanoub:

Here is an amazing poem responding to the huge bushfires earlier this year linked to the topic “let nature be your teacher”. Thank you Jared:

Here is a wonderful blog inspired by Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Illych. Thank you Greg:

Here is another great blog pondering on death inspired by The Death of Ivan Illych. Thank you Victoria:

Here is a great ekphrastic poem on the painting The Gordon Riots which encapsulates so well the fear of revolution which was still haunting England into the late 19th Century. Thank you Laura:

Another great ekphrastic poem, this one inspired by Eugene Von Guerard, great Romantic artist of the Southern Oceans. Thank you Natalia:

Students were asked to share their experience working with marginalized groups (in the context of Charles Dickens’ celebration of Circus People. Here is a beauty! Thank you Huzaifa:

And students were inducted into the art of the Enlightenment to show them how dramatically transformative was the ideology of the Romantics. Here is Dylan reflecting on how an Enlightenment depiction of a pug dog embodied so much of what the Romantics hated! Thank you Dylan:

Here are two of the best Summative Entries. Thank you Lili & Veronica:

Here is the opening of one students reflections on how the issues of the 19thC are mirrored in our own times: Thank you Courtney for these fine words:

Read on here:

And here is Courtney’s response to the question Describe a contact you have had with some marginalized group (gypsies/ circus people etc). Has it shown you the deficiencies of your own world view?: Wow this is awesome:

Coronavirus perceived through the filter of Hamlet or Ophelia!

Students studying Shakespeare this semester have been asked to write a response to the global situation as perceived by Hamlet or Ophelia. This has led to some extraordinarily creative and heart filled descriptions of global condition from the perspective of our 2020 university students. Enjoy:

Thank you Alexandra:

To you, with love-Ophelia

The Petal

Write a prose soliloquy in which you are either Hamlet or Ophelia commenting on the world around you in 2020.

The entirety of a women’s life in this contemporary world is at odds; with herself, her lover and her duty. It is as if she presents two bouquets at the altar. The first, a highly constructed and carefully manufactured bouquet of ever-glowing, silvery lined Gardenia’s. There is an assortment of Daisies, that outreach their limbs, fighting over the attention of the bride’s original master. The father, her original master, is pleased with this reminder of his sweet child’s innocence and purity that is held in this bouquet. Beaming at the altar, like the way Daisy’s beam towards the sun, stands his daughter who is the epitome of his hope and investment. 

But there! There, o’ there lies her eager Groom. The clouds veil the penetration of the sun rays as his eyes follow up her laced gown to the second, more daring bouquet. The dripping scarlet hues of the roses fall within the bouquet, like the blood of a sacrificial lamb. The carnations bow their head, promising drunken pleasure to the groom as they display their wine-like colour at the altar. The Bride stands as an object who is ready to obey.

Obey, obey

 If the Bride obeys as I had done to both my masters, her lungs will be ignited by the rush of her last breath. The lungs, the fertilisers for her sweet life are imploded with droplets of anguish. Her heart will pound with the tsunami of obedience towards what her masters seek from her. The women that allow for submissiveness to overflow the desires of their hearts secure a fate for themselves. If you sacrifice your truest self for obedience, your garments will float on the riverbanks and your aspirations will seep into the soil of the earth.

A master, however, in this world is not merely as clearly divided as I experienced in my lifetime. 

The master for you, dear men and women, gleam from the rays of your devices. These rays hypnotise you into a sense of conformity to what Instagram or Facebook begs of you to show. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is the demanding Soldier of your workplace ordering you to do overtime whilst your sweet child sings themselves to sleep with a lullaby. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is each minute decision made that removes you from your truest self.

The stream of opportunity will flow for the one who triumphs over the masters in this world. 

For whoever throws their bouquets of obedience over their head, will celebrate the unity between themselves and their souls at the altar. 

Thank you Mariama!

HAMLET: (sighing)

It’s bushfires and viruses and cunning toilet paper runs. It’s climate change and Trumpism and healthcare systems trumped by capitalism. It’s advertising fear and scrounging for hope. It’s the globe and the floorboards on this stage are wired with so much worry it feels as though we’re about to fall through, a feeling I’m afraid we’ve all heartily acclimated to.

In this month’s craze, we’ve all been struck down with terror of the plague!

We move through global emergencies like we churn through diet fads, reminding ourselves not to eat too much because we need to panic buy the rest tomorrow when, across the sea, others are starving. That’s dramatic irony for ya, eh?

The media sends the hordes into frenzied hysteria; I pity them honestly (I pity myself, too). But would we prefer a climate of oblivion or hyper information? Is there even a difference between the blur of too much and none at all? Perhaps the sea of news articles and broadcasts is some sort of blissful ignorance within itself. Perhaps we like to distract ourselves from our lives with the lives of everyone else – or more precisely, the lives of strangers in jeopardy and the lives lost inevitably.


HAMLET sneezes into his elbow and begins to wash his hands

Well, you learn to switch yourself off…fall asleep walking through these masked and crowded streets, trying to fade from the facts and the fear. To best describe it: you’re in a large pool with the rest of the world’s population and everybody’s drowning–helpless, flailing and floundering, delirious with panic from this perpetual doggy-paddle. But if you stop swimming, stop floating, you sink beneath the surface and find a weightless, purring calm. It’s pleasant; it is eerily familiar, like the womb before the knife to the belly of Banquo’s mother.

Sadly, we must all come back up for air one time or another and, by the time we resurface, the next apocalypse has tagged you and Kim Kardashian in its Facebook status.

HAMLET continues washing his hands, humming the tune ‘Happy Birthday’

Thank you Nina:

To tweet, or not to tweet: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler for my thumbs to be still

The world is already full of outrageous stories

Shall I add more fuel to the fire?

To inform my peers and influence their choices

Of what on earth is happening around me…

It appears as though I am living a terrible nightmare

Except when I awake, I am unable to figure out where my nightmare meets reality

As we face the elements of fire and floods;

Yet no element seems to be as ghastly

As that of the human condition

No; there is a monster far worse than the natural elements

Ripping our world apart, day by day

The human greed we see each day

As we see a villainous plague flood the streets

And gluttony burn towns to the ground

Whilst human nature is threatened,

We choose to fight not forgive

We choose to hoard instead of hug

Steal instead of support

This is not a world I wish to be apart of, if this is hatred is to continue

Where will man ever find the good again?

If I am to tweet about the morsels of joy I am able to find on this earth, am I seen as heartless to the reality around me?

If I am to tweet of the 21st century plague, am I merely adding more anxiety, panic and pandemonium into an already fragile work?

And if I am to do nothing,

To merely lay in my chambers

Am I truly doing enough?

To tweet or not to tweet

All the sinners of this time will be remembered

Ophelia’s thoughts of 2020

Thank you Isabella:

Oh, what a year thus far! Three months in and already it feels like the world has come crumbling down. January, what we thought as the beginning of the new year, a time of change and resolutions, oh but no! Rather a scorching hellfire. Raging bushfires, toxic air, thick blanketing smoke. Our lungs, our precious lungs! Oh, how they suffered. Then, of course, February. The gates of hell remained open, pouring destruction all over our nation. The month of floods, oh how mother nature was so cross with us! Our beloved earth, who cares for us so tenderly, oh how we failed you! But alas, what can we do? What can I do? I am nothing but helpless, a tiny speck, a grain of sand amongst this vast ocean. 

And the disease! Oh, how this coronavirus is so close. For the fear looms over me. Am I next? What can I possibly do to protect myself? It’s too late! Countries in lockdown, entire nations divided over toilet paper, oh how the world has gone absolutely mad! Madness I say! 

Two thousand and twenty (2020), must you have brought forth hysteria to the start of a new decade? Not even a quarter through the year and we are almost undone, hanging by a thread, about to snap. No bandages to patch us up just yet. Oh two thousand and twenty (2020), for I hope you offer us assistance. We are in need, the world has come undone! Ridden with madness, controlled by selfish desire and not a shred of light in the horizon. 

Please, two thousand and twenty (2020), for I ask you to save us. Save us from your reckoning and help us to understand the consequences of our actions. For we are the result of our undoing. But, my woes are yours and yours mine. We can only hope the final three-quarters of the year are a time of rebuilding and saving. Saving us from ourselves. 

Image of Australian Bushfires sourced from:

Image of Australian Floods sourced from:

Image of empty shelves sourced from:

The Ophelia of 2020:

Thank you Skye:

Why has mother nature scorched, destroyed and abandoned our dreams for the new decade? a decade that was most anticipated and one that promised change. Fire, rain and wind have made us tremble with every step. Why must she torture the innocent without a thought and not teach those who remain selfish how to look after our world? And yet, my mind is torn, I cannot fully blame her for the destruction we have seen as we are our own enemies and are the causes of our own misfortune. The physical landscape shook all around us and yet human kind agitates us more than we can admit. Nature heals and re builds itself into the most mesmerizing landscapes ever seen. If only we could do the same! More and more I am disappointed with the direction our world is taking, the disregard of basic human rights for those less fortunate, the toxic politics and fanatic addiction to money that fills our news feeds. One cannot escape the screens that control our minds, if we would only look up and appreciate the natural beauty of our world. Trees once blackened have already begun to sprout colours of green and yellow, water nourished the earth when it needed it most. From this, hope is born and we should aim to grow as a society and show compassion and strength in times of hardship. Amongst this chaos I have never felt so grateful for the things I am able to achieve and that my eyes have been so lucky to admire. Where around the world suffering, poverty and abuse encapsulate the lives of many- the selfish need to slow down and work with each other. Stop! I say! and take a look.


Recordings for Children’s Literature ENGL104

Audio Recordings for both tutorials on 22nd April 2020- on Racism and Post-Colonialism:

This tutorial spoke about your second research assignment and also explored the story “The Rabbits, by John Marsden and Shaun Tan. There are a few gaps in the recording where students went into break-out groups so you will have to fast forward through these to get to the important bits!

The Winter’s Tale 2020

This is one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays that brings into focus the talent that enabled him to show the world how art could be redemptive. This is the story of chaos created by human emotions (jealousy in particular here) and the way that art can be an agent in resolving some of the pain created by madness. Enjoy our next two weeks together on this play.

Here for your interest is a useful pdf resource:

Lecture on The Winter’s Tale 20/04/2020
Tutorial on The Winter’s Tale 20/04/2020


1/ Write a short review of the production features of the first half of Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Winter’s Tale.

2/Critically review the casting decisions made by the Branagh production of The Winter’s Tale. In other words, how well were the decisions made on the actors who played the key roles.

3/ Write a short script that depicts a man or woman collapsing in a rage of jealousy.

4/ Write a review of Marcia Williams’ “translation” of The Winter’s Tale into a comic book version.

5/ Critically compare a short passage of prose with a short passage of poetry in The Winter’s Tale and comment on why you think Shakespeare modulated between these two genres within his play.

Zoom recording of second lecture on The Winter’s Tale 27/4/2020- there is an audio version of this in LEO. – please let me know if you wish me to remove this video from my blog….

The Victorian Age

Today we began exploring the period between 1837 and 1901. This was a time of huge industrial expansion and a widening rift between those who had everything and those who had nothing. This lecture explores the way these concerns was expressed in the literature of the age.

Audio Recording:

View this audio in conjunction with the following slides:
Queen Victoria’s Railway Carriage:

Lecture for Week 8: Audio:

Audio Lecture for Week 8.


1/ Describe a contact you have had with some marginalized group (gypsies/ circus people etc). Has it shown you the deficiencies of your own world view?

2/ Write a letter to Charles Dickens commending him on how he has exposed real deficiencies in human behaviour.

3/ Write a letter to Louisa Gradgrind trying to make her feel better for what has happened to her in her life.

4/ Write a short two stanza poem about moving into a new form of life (like with the Gypsies). Use any line from Matthew Arnold’s poem “The Scholar Gypsy” as the first line in your poem.

5/ You are a Victorian woman or man. Describe the things that you value most in life.


Art Gallery of NSW “Virtual” tour of Enlightenment/ Romantic/ Victorian Art and its links with Literature of the Age.

Hello All, here you can find the slides we used for our Zoom lecture (available in LEO) and you can also find an audio version of the same lecture (in 2 parts) – enjoy!

In the tutorial this week we looked closely at the way Shelley, both in his poetry and his prose exemplified the Romantic’s belief in the divine power of poetry, connecting the human spirit through landscape to the creative force in the universe. Shelley’s ideas in his “Preface” give voice to this amazingly optimistic point of view that it is the poetic imagination, the way of seeing the world through the lense of poetry, that can undermine the mechanistic ways of seeing that have brought the planet to its knees. See the poet Adrienne Rich on this topic at

Lecture Part 1 30/3/2020
Lecture Part II 30/30/20
Week 5 Tutorial on Coleridge & Shelley…

Blog Topics arising from the Art Gallery visit:

1/ Which painting made the strongest impression on you and how did it amplify your understanding of any of the literary themes that we have been exploring.

2/ Ekphrastic writing: In words (either poetry or prose) vividly describe one of the paintings that you saw on our virtual tour of the gallery last week.

Please remember that all your blogs will have to be submitted through Turnitin at the end of the semester and any direct copying from any source will be recognized – this will be deemed plagiarism.

State Library and Shakespeare Room “Virtual” Visit

Audio for State Library and Shakespeare Room Visit

Blog Topics for week 5

You are welcome to create your own topic centring on any aspect of our visit to the State Library. 
Here are a couple of additional topics :
*What impression did you get of the importance of Shakespeare to Australia from our visit to the State Library? 
*Write a short poem in tribute to one of your favourite singers/ actors/ creative artists – in which you compare your “hero” to one of the constellations. 
*How has your love of Shakespeare been enhanced by your “virtual” visit to the State Library and to the Shakespeare Room? 

Clemente Surry Hills 2020 Lecture week 3

Hello all, 

Here is the fabulous Zoom Tutorial that we had on Hamlet this week. Wow, so much covered and such great ideas based on your observations of the play last week. How lucky were we to get into the theatre before everything shut down. We can now spend our time studying and preparing for when we re-open. And remember we are all meeting up again next Wednesday at 3pm via Zoom. Simply click on the Zoom link below the tutorial:

Tutorial on Hamlet Wednesday 18th March.

Zoom Meeting Space for Next Wednesday

The first assignment you have is entirely voluntary and is designed to give me a chance to look at your writing skills and give you some direct feedback. It is a short 200 word piece that is a review of the play you saw last week (and believe it or not your were just about the last group to see the play before it shut down!- today). 

In the outline it says: The first assignment is entirely voluntary. For those who want to do this I will look at and correct the writing of all submissions – and they can be submitted either as a blog on WordPress OR as a Word document which could be lodged in the assignment box in LEO. I will show the class tomorrow how to do both of these things.   Voluntary Blog post 1 – Due Tuesday March 24. Write a short review (200 words) of your visit to the Opera House. What comments do you have about the play, the actors, the lighting, the scenery… What did you enjoy most? Did you find the play relevant to our own times? – I am going to accept this as a blog or as document which you can upload into LEO. I will show you in the lecture tomorrow how to create a blog account- if you would like to go down that path. I will also show you where to “drop” your Word assignment if you decide to go down that path.  

Assignment 1: Short Quiz 1: Hamlet- based on reading, watching and performance. Multiple choice and true/false questions. Date and Time: One hour after class on 01/04/20

The details of this assignment are simply that you will be tested on your reading of the play and many of the questions will be related to passages that we go over in class in the next couple of weeks. 


SIMPLY GO TO and follow the prompts to creating your own FREE blog. Don’t be tempted to spend any dollars to upgrade your site. You don’t need any upgrades to have a powerful and functional blogging space. You will need an email address in order for WordPress to check that you are bone-fide. So don’t start the process until you have an email address. Once you have set up your blog you will need to send my your URL which is based on the name you chose for your blog. For example mine is – yours will come out as something similar. When you send my your URL I will be able to look at your writing there  and suggest corrections. This is a space also where you will be able to share your wise words with the rest of the world. 

The Romantics Week 4

Here you will find the lectures in video and audio sections. Enjoy the poems and your time with them! Let me know what is working for you and what is not. This is really important.

Opening part of the lecture for week 4. I begin discussing Wordsworth’s short sonnet “The World is Too Much With Us” on page 358. Read the poem first and then listen. Enjoy!
Audio Section on “Tintern Abbey”- on page 299 of your anthology.
William Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud” compared to Dorothy Wordsworth’s Journal Entry for Thursday April 15th, 1802
William Wordsworth’s “The world is too much with us” and Denise Levertov’s “O Taste and See”
S.T.C Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Frost at Midnight”

Hamlet Lecture Week 4

Hello All, well this is the beginning of our totally on-line teaching for Shakespeare. And we begin with a short video (myself lecturing you from home) and from there we will turn to audio focussing more closely on the key sections of the play.

Introduction to Hamlet Week 4… Enjoy… and please listen to the audio that appears directly underneath this.
Here is the talk (audio version) that we had from one of the Bell Shakespeare Actors Matilda Ridgeway last Wednesday evening just before the performance. Enjoy! You can see a short video clip of Matilda right here! Last year she was pregnant but she played Portia in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice despite her pregnancy!
So let’s now return to the play in some more detail. I am going to do some of this section as a video recording- the sound quality is better and I don’t have to spend so much time adjusting my hair!!
Commentary on Hamlet’s first soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 2, line 130ff.
Commentary on Hamlet’s prose depiction of the human condition in Act 2, Scene 2, line 278ff
Commentary on Hamlet’s “To Be or Not to Be” speech in Act 3, Scene 1, line 57 ff, followed by Ophelia’s lamentation at what has become of her one-time lover: Act 3, Scene 1, line 144 ff.
Hamlet’s tortuous self-accusation as he compares his own lack of action against that of the “heroic” actions of young Fortinbras and his army: Act 4, Scene 4, line 32ff.
Gertrude’s amazing depiction of the drowning of Ophelia in Act 4, Scene 7, line 166

Graphic translation of the power of Shakespeare’s imagery into this painting by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Millais.

Having worked through all these pieces, keep your ears and eyes open for what is happening in the tutorial this afternoon. There will be a discussion forum, but there will also be an experiment with Zoom to see how we can all link up with this interactive platform. See you then….. MG

Zoom tutorial for Week 4:

ENGL104 Week 2: Introductions and Bell Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Opera House!

Today we began with introductions from everyone in the class. So great to meet you all: Stephen, Patricia, Mei(Wei?), Glen, Ken, Alan, Brendan, Branko, Benjamin, Gretta, Ian, David, Michael, Jimmy and Bert!

From there we went into a brief introduction to the difference between the three main genres of literature: drama, poetry and prose. From there we began talking a little about Hamlet, about how this play mirrors the world, even today.

Here is our whole session captured in Audio: enjoy!

And on this same afternoon we wandered down to the Sydney Opera House to see Hamlet. The event began with a great introductory talk by Miranda, an actress with the Bell Shakespeare Company and an Arts Educator. Here is the recording of that event:

Please listen to this recording carefully. After you have listened to this, try writing down a number of things that you really enjoyed about the play itself. Can you also say whether you think Hamlet was a hero in the play or a madman? Also now try to read Hamlet again after having seen the production.
A few pictures will be appearing here shortly too!
Just before the show started!

Week 3 Shakespeare Audio

This week the lecture moved from a consideration of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 146 and its relevance to Hamlet through to a survey of how the language of drama is a very specific literary genre and how, in the case of Shakespeare, it embraces ALL the genres. Enjoy!

Lecture on the language of drama, on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 146, and on Hamlet
Tutorial 1- fragment
Tutorial 2 fragment
Tutorial 2 fragment
illustration 1 for Sonnet 146
illustration 2 for Sonnet 146

First Blog Topic- Questions:

1/Post a review of your overall impressions of the Bell Shakespeare production of Hamlet. Include things like: interpretation, casting/acting, lighting, stage effects… Be very economical in your blog. Stick to the point and try to stay within the word limit.


2/Are there any key differences between the Globe Shakespeare and the Bell Shakespeare productions of Hamlet? Be very economical in your blog. Stick to the point and try to stay within the word limit.


3/Write a prose soliloquy in which you are either Hamlet or Ophelia commenting on the world around you in 2020.

ENGL200 Week 3- Unacknowledged Legislators Part 3- Audio.

Please find the audios for this week’s classes right here:

This lecture was largely on Wordsworth’s Preface to the Lyrical Ballads and his wonderful poem “Expostulation and Reply”. Please find also the white-board list of insights that students produced during this lecture.
Here is the fruit of your wonderful input during our discussion of “Resolution and Independance”!!! Great Work!!!
Here is the first of the two tutorials in week 3, focussing on Wordsworth’s “My Heart Leaps Up” & the first section of his massive “Ode” on childhood.
Tutorial 2…. a longer tutorial upon the same theme… enjoy!

ENGL104 Lecture Week 1

Thank you Jess for taking this lecture! Students had a great time working through some of the texts in the workbook with you and being introduced to the language of the theatre. They began to understand terms like mise-en-scene and the ways in which the language of the theatre is language with many bells and whistles added to it! A great start!

Blog Topics for the first three weeks of Nineteenth Century Literature 2020

  1. Are you in agreement with Dorothy Wordsworth’s reactions to S.T. Coleridge’s domestic life? Say why you agree or disagree.
  2. “Wise Passiveness”- describe a moment in your own life where such a phrase might apply.
  3. Write a poem about an experience in your life in which nature was the teacher.
  4. Are the concerns expressed in the film Pandaemonium still relevant in the 21st century?
  5. Does Wordsworth’s sonnet “The World is too much with us” apply in any measure to the contemporary 21st century world?
  6. Can you write a poem along the lines of “The World is too much with us” that directly reflects your experience in the 21st century?
  7. Write a letter to Dorothy Wordsworth telling her what you think of her journals.
  8. Write a letter to either Coleridge or Wordsworth expressing your appreciation of their insight into the importance of nature in human experience.
  9. Write a brief summary of what you consider the chief points of Wordsworth’s description of what kind of language is needed to write poetry.
  10. Do you agree with Shelley’s assertion that poets are the “unacknowledged legislators”.

Please remember that all blog entries will have to go through Turnitin at the end of the semester and if there is any plagiarism in your entries you may forfeit the total amount for your blog component of the assessment.

Updated my Literature and Life Site.

Hoping you all enjoy this update of my WordPress Web/Blog site. I have now created separate pages for all the various activities in which I am engaged, from University Teaching, through to Extra-Mural (off campus teaching), through to leading contemplative pilgrimages, through to enjoying the wilderness around Sydney. Enjoy all the new content and links on my home page which is now, still at:

A favourite haunt north of Berowra Waters

And here are some of the wonders you see on your way down to the water: Gompholobium Latifolium (Big Yellow Lips!); Day Lily (intense purple delight); Boronia Ledifolia (Sydney Boronia)… and more:
Isopogon Anethifolius and Boronias bursting with colour and design…

Top of the Class ePortfolios in The Visionary Imagination ENGL329

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A Section of Brett Whiteley’s Alchemy on display at the Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills

Here are the top 9 ePortfolios presented for marking in Visionary Imagination ENGL329- and again indeed it was very hard to pick between them, although the top 2 in the list scored the maximum marks possible. All are outstanding examples of the art of blogging and of creating an effective ePortfolio in WordPress. More importantly they all demonstrate a passionate interest in the way that literature can shape our way of thinking and experiencing the world in the 21st Century. These blogs have explored the relationship between literature and painting in the work of William Blake and his impact on artists and writers Brett Whiteley and Patrick White. Many of these students have found through this study new ways of understanding and assessing their own experience and event their attitude to spirituality and to God. It has been so refreshing to see how many of you have truly found a resonance in these writers and artists with your own experience. Well done!

It was also really evident that many of you found that having to do blogs in a literature course was a powerfully liberating experience. Not only did it allow you to express yourselves freely and openly on any subject that took your fancy, but it also allowed you to connect with each other in some really meaningful ways. So thank you all again and enjoy….


I suspect that for most of you this is now your last literature class. So I will miss you all and hope that your future leads you into the paths that you most hope for. Please stay in touch and I am always happy to give references as needed.


These students are blogging across a number of different units. Please click on their Visionary Imagination links and go directly to their “Summative Entry”

Alexandra Nematalla

Anthony Young

 Mitchell Frewen 

Izabela Gorgievska

Alina Goro 

Jacob Hall

Taylor-Rose Stevens-Youssef

Joshua Straw

Nicola Toigo

Top of the Class ePortfolios in American Literature

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Here are the top 12 ePortfolios presented for marking in American Literature ENGL204- and indeed it was very hard to pick between them. All are outstanding examples of the art of blogging and of creating an effective ePortfolio in WordPress. More importantly they all demonstate a passionate interest in the way that literature can shape our way of thinking and experiencing the world in the 21st Century. The fact that all these blogs deal with American literature gives them added power and relevance. As many of the blogs expose we are all (especially in Australia) so dominated by American ideas and values that reading the literature of this huge country creates a way of looking critically at the ideas and values that dominate our thinking. So writing about this is a way of giving us some freedom from the tyranny of the USA, while at the same time giving us space to celebrate the amazing creativity of so many of its poets, novelist, dramatists and thinkers.

It was also really evident that many of you found that having to do blogs in a literature course was quite a liberating experience. Not only did it allow you to express yourselves freely and openly on any subject that took your fancy, but it also allowed you to connect with each other in some really meaningful ways. So thank you all again and enjoy….


Hopefully I will see most of you again next year. Please have a safe and happy holiday- and do lots of reading. As soon as the text books for next semester as in place I will release these into LEO.


Please be sure to click on the American Literature link in these blogs: some of these students have a multitude of simultaneous blogs happening from their one site. So go to American- Summative Entry……. enjoy

Lili Braidner 

Anna Castagnella

Cameron Cole

Izabela Gorgievska

Chloe Hayfa

Georgia Houlihan

Laura Nash

Joey O’Reilly

James Sacco

Huzaifa Shakir

Sarah-Jessica Talarico

Nicola Toigo

The Dry Salvages- 4 Quartets – Session 4

Thank you all for being such wonderful participants in our collaborative exploration of T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. We are all now a little wiser and come to this astonishing group of poems with fresh eyes. T.S. Eliot is a poet who brings the spiritual and poetic search for truth a little closer to us all. Despite his “greatness” on the world stage of poetry he is a self-proclaimed “ordinary” human being wrestling with precisely the same problems that we all have to deal with in our individual quests for truth.

It was a joy to be the ringleader in this exploration and I hope to see you all again sometime next year. Remember also (mentioned at the bottom of this blog) that I am running a “pilgrimage” in quest of contemplative poetry (especially T.S. Eliot) to England next July. Numbers are strictly limited for this event so please, if you are interested, put in your expression of interest soon.

Here now are the images I used today- click on the link

The Dry Salvages

And here are the recordings of our pre and post morning tea adventures.

Remember if you have any questions at all I will be happy to answer them. Send an email to and please make mention of the fact that you are from the Aquinas T.S.Eliot group.

Pilgrimage details together with contact email are in this PDF attachment:


To register your interest in this Pilgrimage

Poetry Workshop 24/11/2019

Hello All,

this is where you will find all the materials used in the Workshop held on 24/11/2019.


Music and Poetry- in Francis Webb

Poems workshopped:


General comments on poems:


Audio Recordings of Key Sessions:

Invitation to Pilgrimage June 30- July 13, 2020

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Further Details and for Expression of Interest contact: Reho Study Tours:

For Program Details: Click Here

Estimated Cost: $7350 (+ air fares/ twin accomodation)



East Coker- Four Quartets Session 3

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Thank you all for your fabulous participation in our exploration of T.S. Eliot’s East Coker the poem that confirmed for him that he was actually in the process of writing the second of what would become The Four Quartets. Published on Good Friday 1940, just near the start of the Second World War, this poem embodies a powerful expression of T.S. Eliot’s quest for spiritual insight and sanity in a world that truly had gone mad. The title of this poem connects him to his British Ancestry in the tiny village of East Coker in Somerset where his relatives had lived for around 200 years prior to their departure for the New World in search for religious freedom in 1668, in an England that was riven with religious dissent. Eliot himself was born over in America, but now, back in England, he reclaims his deepest roots with British traditions. One of his British ancestors, it turns out, was none other than the famous British 16th Century author Sir Thomas Elyot who published The Boke named The Governour in 1531. It was lines from this book that were directly imported into East Coker as part of T.S. Eliot’s seeming wish to anchor his physical and emotional life in a stable landscape of ancient rural traditions which seemed such a powerful antidote to the chaos that he saw around him in the London Blitz:

In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Enjoy the slides from today’s session, the audio introductory talk and the LIVELY interaction with the always wonderfully wise and questioning audience:

Click on the East Coker link to open the slides from today’s session:

East Coker

Click on the audio link below to hear the lecture, the conversation and T.S. Eliot’s own aural rendition of East Coker:

Remember that you can post into the blog either posting your own poetic creations or any comments you might have on today’s topic, by simply clicking into the Comment tab a the top right hand of this posting.

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Cream of the Crop for Australian Literature 2019!

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Thank you all for some fabulous blogging this semester. It has been a real feast to trawl through your many rich and creative insights into the literature of Australia. So many of you were able to express yourselves freely and openly, giving voice to what concerned you the most and finding ways of expressing your own creativity. Well done all!

Here is the cream of the crop! Most of these earned Distinction and Above for careful and well constructed efforts.

Anna Castagnella

Victoria Martin

Natalia Ng 

Emily Baker

Veronica Barbagallo

Mariama Biro Saibou

Cameron Cole

Andrew Colman

Ashureena Dankha

Isabella Di Giandomenico

Holly Ibrahim 


The Four Quartets 2: Burnt Norton

We began today’s session by reflecting on some of the key ideas in Burnt Norton, in particular the relevance of the following quotes from from parts III, IV and V of the poem. These summarize Eliot’s view of the modern human condition and also his aspiration towards a different quality of Being. You can hear the full discussion of this and indeed of the whole seminar by clicking on the sound track below. You can also view the images that were displayed during the seminar. View these alongside your listening to the talk and discussion.

Towards the end of the seminar we spent time in small groups discussing the meaning of the whole of section IV with its focus on the Kingfisher…. enjoy!

The Chinese Jar was provided by Rose! Thank you…..  Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 9.28.49 pm


Find all images used during the presentation here (click on the title Burnt Norton):

Burnt Norton

And tune into the audio by clicking on this link: