Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Bridget Jones in Paris" Blog

'Petite anglaise' blogger wins sacking case
By Henry Samuel in Paris
An Englishwoman sacked for bringing her employers in Paris into disrepute by writing an internet diary under the pseudonym petite anglaise was awarded £30,000 for wrongful dismissal yesterday. a test case for bloggers in France and beyond, a tribunal concluded that Catherine Sanderson, whose blog is said by some to be the equivalent of "Bridget Jones in Paris", had been dismissed "without real and serious causes". >>more

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Twitter": Cell-phone Mini-blogging

Verily, the end of the world, for those who view frivolity, puerility and narcissism as an eschatological anti-trinity:

By Richard Waters and Chris Nuttall in San Francisco
Silicon Valley is abuzz over a new mini-blogging service for mobile phones that some predict will be a mass-market hit with the reach of a YouTube or MySpace.
Over the past two weeks, Twitter has attracted the sort of hyperbole the Valley reserves for its next internet darling – though such self-reinforcing adulation also led to dotcom mania.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Group Projects: Update

We'll have class time this week to get caught up on the Group Projects.
I had an idea after chatting with a few of you before last Wednesday's class that might pique your engagement: why not adapt your project so that it is a pitch to a Hollywood Media Company for a film version of Parade's End? You would then emphasise the aspects of war, gore, sadism, decadent aristocracy, feminism, Satanism, and fall-of-the House-of-Groby in Madox Ford's text. Can't fail!

Term Paper: Support

From the Student Learning Commons people at the great W.A.C. Bennett Library:

As we near the end of the term, the Yosef Wosk Student Learning Commons would like to remind you of the additional academic support we provide students in writing and learning skills. (Via one-on-one appointments or drop-in .)

As....students enter the semester's 'writing crunch' and then final exams, please take a minute to remind them that there is additional writing and learning skills support available in the Student Learning Commons (room 3695-Podium Level 3-to the right of the Library). (Emphases mine.)

Some of the areas our friendly and knowledgeable Peer Educators and myself can assist students in are:

- planning and flow of a paper,
- integrating quotes (sic) and paraphrasing,
- improving coherence and cohesion,
- controlling sentence structure and punctuation,
- exam strategies,
- overcoming exam anxiety,
- ....more.

.....we do not edit or proof papers. The YWSLC Coordinator and Peers provide the insight, skills, and techniques to improve a students own performance, including learning how to write, edit and proofread their own work.

First World War in Canadian News

Support for my contention that the First World War still has very powerful resonancy in Canada today comes from two recent news stories.

In one, DNA evidence has solved the mystery of a Vimy Ridge soldier.
EDMONTON — Doreen Bargholz's family rarely talked about her uncle, Private Herbert Peterson.
His parents and five brothers were heartbroken when the 22-year-old soldier from rural Alberta never returned from the muddy French battlefields of the First World War. The military told them he had gone missing, and was presumed dead.
"There was a big photo of him hanging in my grandparents' living room. That's how I knew him," the 78-year-old Ms. Bargholz said in an interview.
But thanks to hard work by a team of Canadian scientists, genealogists and Defence Department historians and officials, the private's body was recovered in 2003 and identified earlier this year.
Next, is a story from the Toronto Globe and Mail concerning ongoing argument over the legitimacy of the maple-leaf Canadian flag (accused of being a partisan Liberal-party product) versus the traditional Red Ensign (supported vigorously by Canadian veterans.)

[A blog dedicated to these type of topics is here.]

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper has requested the Red Ensign flag fly at Vimy Ridge ceremonies next month, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Mr. Harper told his cabinet ministers yesterday that he wanted both the Red Ensign and the Maple Leaf hoisted in Vimy, France, at the 90th anniversary of the First World War battle, sources close to the Prime Minister said. "He said, 'The Red Ensign of 1917 will fly over Vimy,' " one source told The Globe.
The decision was hailed as a victory by veterans' groups and advocates, who have been lobbying Ottawa to have the historical ensign displayed over the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Parade's End end.

That is, our focused study of Parade's End is coming to and an end. For me, Madox Ford's master-work is the centre of our course: a major literary work which gives gravity to a select cluster of consequential satellite novels and first-class poetry. Not only a tetralogy but a foundational text in the development of literary modernism, Parade's End is daunting enough in its mere form. Moreover, its setting in the span, across the Great War, from the Edwardian to the Georgian eras; and its representation of a social ideal - English Toryism -- as dead entirely to us as the Myan priesthood, adds blank unfamiliarity to the challenges that the book seemingly presents to today's reader.

Yet, that being said, in my estimation, Ford has done what only literary genius proper can do: craft his art into a delightfully, trippingly, captivatingly readable narrative. Now, admittedly I have loved Edwardian fiction from youth, brought a passionate conviction that the absolute horror of First World War shaped our own world down to the smallest cultural effect (not the so-called butterfly effect but the rogue moon, Deep Impact asteroid-collision effect;) and allow, even encourage, the distortions caused by my Yorkshire diaspora to influence my reading. But still, Parade's End is simple & varied, fast-paced, engagingly clever, suspenseful and arousing, and a real tale of a love triangle between three alluring chracters.

In a phrase, it is not Ulysses -- though Madox Ford was instrumental in the successful creation, advocacy and defence of Joyce's cause celebre. Now we have completed our three-week study of Parade's End, we have, I believe, a very strong sense of the Great War in its historical context; of the political and social nexus that created and prolonged trench warfare; of the timbre of the men -- mass millions yet discretely individual -- who, if they did not die or lie smashed, fought for four years amid rats, gas and shell-shock, up to their necks in mud; of the character of an Age, dead and discredited, but with much, if seen advisedly and from a charitable prospect, to commend it and to admire.

The lectures on Parade's End sought to make the larger work accessible by concentrating on its binding themes: the history, characteristics and fate of English Toryism; the literary devices, techniques and methods of Madox Ford's vanguard modernism; the operation of Freudianism in the text; and the manifold binaries represented by Tietjens and Sylvia -- repression & impulse; Sadism in its clinical sense & continence on principle; Roman Catholicism & Anglicanism; promiscuity & monogamy; Whigism & traditionalism; id & super-ego, etc. etc.

Please be encouraged to add your comments (either signed or anonymous) to this post on your assessment of our engagement with Parade's End.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Modernism: Visual Mappings

Here are the scans of the schematic representations of Modernism in the context of Ford Madox Ford from our group work on Monday. Click on an image for a larger view (the worksheets used were slightly bigger than the scanner platen.)
I am really best pleased with the work here: my respects

WWI-type Gas Attack: Terrorists in Iraq

Iraqi terrorists have now begun using chlorine gas in a new suicide bombings that brings one of the horrors of WWI into our own day. This is as appalling and inhuman now as it was then. [Click here for the CNN video report....and then despair.]

Suicide bombers strike with chlorine in Iraq
SAMEER N. YACOUB Associated Press
BAGHDAD — Multiple suicide bombings struck the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, and about 350 Iraqi civilians and six U.S. troops were treated for exposure to chlorine gas, the military said Saturday. At least two policemen also were killed in the attacks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First Theatre Troupe: Success

Well, a strong opening to our theatre sports competition today, with Cristal, Mariya & Ann acting the "Lobscheid" section. Be ready the rest of you to have your shot of glory on Monday: email your fellow cast-members to be sure not to leave you holding the bag....
The tension is killing me.

Update: watching the theatrical presentations this class has already added dimensions to my conceptual experience of the novel. I hope the same for you.
Update 2: I found this link to a BBC screenplay of "A Man Could Stand Up." -- the Parade's End project will quite conceivably come to cinematic fruition.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Term Paper

The Term Essay is open topic, and is due April 6th in my Department mailbox(*). For the inevitable excuses or good-reasons-exclusive-of-those-exceptions-published-in-the-syllabus, there is a buffer period wherein late penalties will be waived until noon Monday, April 16th. (**)
The Open Topic will incorporate at least two of the primary course texts and be organised around central course themes. It is not required but advised that an outline of your paper or a draught of your thesis paragraph be discussed in advance of the due date with the Lecturer in Office Hours.

Update: I have added an option for a creative scholarly paper. For this option, you would detail strict failure standards for my written approval, and submit by the deadline a crative alternative to the full-length essay accompanied by a three-to-four page (i.e. a thousand word)scholarly justification for your project.
Update II; See here for more detail.
(*) Changed from April 4th in lecture, to match the previously published Syllabus.
(**) This is the last minutes so no more room to negotiate!
Update III: Assignment Deadlines.
There is a four percent per day late penalty for assignments, documented medical or bereavement leave excepted. For medical exemptions, provide a letter from a physician on letterhead which declares his or her medical judgement that illness or injury prevented work on the essay. The letter must cover the entire period over which the assignment was scheduled and may be verified by

Battle of the Somme: "Lions led by Donkeys."

Following our class presentation last week on the Battle of the Somme, here is reflection onlast year's anniversary or that "worst battle ever fought."

On the Somme, some 73,000 British dead were never identified; at Verdun, the "unknown" are buried in regiments.
Paul Stanway.

Canada Day this year is the 91st Anniversary of the the Somme. The Canadian Press news wire leads with this story:
OTTAWA (CP) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaelle Jean began Canada Day celebrations Saturday by taking part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial. The event marked the 90th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. It was "very, very moving," Harper later said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
From the centre-left CBC to the centre right Edmonton Sun, an ideological range of Canadian media support my idea that WWI is loathed irrespective of a person's view toward war in general.

On Canada Day in 1916, some 100,000 soldiers of the British Empire climbed out of their trenches near the River Somme in northern France and advanced at walking pace towards the German line - only to meet death on a mind-boggling, industrial scale, in a futile contest that would redefine the meaning of slaughter. By the end of the day the British forces had suffered 60,000 casualties, including 20,000 dead - Canadians among them. At Beaumont-Hamel, the 1st Newfoundland Regiment was cut to pieces by the German machine-guns, with more than 700 casualties in half an hour.
An interesting video reflection of the battle itself can be found on the BBC as well as a useful study into the origins of WWI. There is also a meaningful article on Britain's Oldest WWI survivor as well as this remarkable contemporaneous letter. There are powerful memorials being held in the north of France by the British.

Revisionist accounts of the Somme are also available, in fairness sake, including an article with an audio recording of the son of the man responsible for the unimaginable carnage effected -- at a place, it must be said, against Haig's judgement -- merely to distract from an imbecilic French military action elsewhere.
I did find this one passage arresting, resonant with our Forester text:
Were Haig and his generals really "donkeys"? The evidence suggests not. Haig lost 58 of his fellow generals, killed or dying of wounds while leading from the front during the four years of war. Three died in the Somme in the first few days. So the General Melchett image of Blackadder - of arrogant Generals safe back at headquarters - is unfounded. They were brave...

Literary Modernist Diction

A recent article elaborates one cause of elevated diction in High Modernist literature is one James Miller's "Is Bad Writing Necessary" and can be read online at the Lingua Franca mirror site here.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Theatre Sports

Be ready for your Parade's End performances beginning this Monday: the judges are all ready and the Glenfiddich & chocolate truffles are safe backstage. We'll fit everyone comfortably in over the next week or so, and still have good time for detailed lectures the novel, indivdual presentations, and then moving into Vile Bodies. Oh, yes, we have the last five minutes of Regeneration to view as well, and a discussion of the issues that its script of Patricia Barker's novel raises.

Monday, March 5, 2007

WWI TV on Trench warfare

A great tip from classfellow D.S.
Just wanted to send you this link to a great show about the trenches I watched this afternoon....a great review of how the trenches were built and what a terrible placement (geographically - visually laid out in the show) that the Allies had at Ypres, and how it was pure British patriotism / stoicism / stubbornness that kept the Western line against all odds.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

World War I in the news: Victoria Cross

A great story reported in the weekend's Toronto Globe & Mail about the upcoming 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. The Victoria Cross, the highest reward for military bravery in the Commonwealth, will apparently be again made available to Canadians in April when Her Majesty hands the Victoria Cross to our Prime Minister.

The medals are made from the bronze of cannon at a fort captured during the Crimean War.

The revival of the VC is a testament to the persistence of veterans' groups – notably the Royal Canadian Legion – which for years lobbied the federal government to reinstate it as Canada's foremost decoration for military valour. The VC was shunned in 1972 [i.e. by the Pierre Trudeau Liberals] when the government created a new Canadian honours system that neglected that the country might be at war again. The new system included military honours for meritorious service and bravery but nothing specifically for rare instances of military valour.