Category: Readers, Writers, Texts

Prose Study: The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

In these stories, a man sees his favourite elephant vanish overnight; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald’s; and a young woman discovers a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard and can read her thoughts. You never know what is going to happen in one of Murakami’s stories – or even which reality you’re going to find yourself lost inside.

Prose Study: Broken April by Ismail Kadare

The novel describes the way life is lived in the high mountain plateaus of Albania, where people follow an ancient code of customary law called the Kanun that has been handed down from generation to generation. The code demands men to take the law into their own hands. Insults must be avenged, family honour must be upheld – and blood must be spilt.

Prose Study: The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

Published in 1979, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories retells classic fairy tales in a disturbing, blood-tinged, explicit way. Angela Carter revises Sleeping Beauty, for example, from an adult, twentieth-century perspective. You might think that fairy tales are the sorts of stories to read to children in bed to lull them to sleep – not these versions! Her renditions are intended not to comfort but to disturb and titillate.

Dramatic Study: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

When George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925, he was praised for turning “his weapons against everything that he conceives of as prejudice.” This is clearly true of Pygmalion, which was premiered in German in Vienna in 1913. The play is a modern interpretation of an ancient myth, the tale of Pygmalion and Galatea. In Shaw’s rendition, Higgins, a teacher, “creates” Eliza, his pupil, by teaching her to speak like a duchess – a transformation that allows Shaw to attack the superficial class prejudices of his time.

Fake News! The Future of Truth

What changes will the internet bring to the types of news we encounter? As you read this, several large newspapers are under threat. Over the past decades news organizations have been bought by multinational corporations. What are the positive and negative effects of centralizing the news?

Distorted Reality

Learn some underlying theories of the news (whether print, online or televised) which will teach you to be critical about the information you receive via news media and ‘official’ outlets like mainstream newspapers, BBC, Sky or Fox news. You will learn the key concepts of bias and how the news is narrativized – turned into stories for public consumption.

Logical Fallacies

The basis of arguing or debating effectively is using objective evidence to justify opinions, rather than relying on assertions that are based on logical fallacies. Understanding a logical fallacy is an immensely empowering skill.