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On the grapevine: JCU presents "The Death of Criticism?"

More from John Cabot University this month; they bringing in the UKís "high priest of lit crit" (according to The Guardian, no less):
The Department of English Language and Literature presents
"The Death of Criticism?"
a public lecture by Terry Eagleton
Monday, 24 October 2011, 8:00 p.m.

He definitely gets points for the most interesting titles Iíve seen on a literary theory list in a while:
- "Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching" -- in the London Review of Books.
- The Meaning of Life (any literary critic who quotes Douglas Adams is a literary critic I can let into my house").
- "Christianity Fair and Foul" -- a lecture at Yale University.
- "Rebuking obnoxious views is not just a personality kink" -- in his own words, "taking Martin Amis to task for advocating the hounding of Muslims" in The Guardian.
- and the one I know about (in that Calvino-way of knowing about BOOKS YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE TO READ SOME DAY) -- How to Read a Poem.


[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[martedž 11 ottobre 2011 ore 09:37:08] []

Reading on the Inter-City

This weekend, I figured I wanted something good-and-meaty for the getaway to Orvieto.  So I took the quasi-Hemingway that Carlotta had brought me from Africa -- True at First Light.  But the train ride up was under an hour, the train ride down was an hour and ten (and came after a long and lovely dinner at Trattoria da Carlo -- "qui si mangia da matti"), and every minute in between ended up being Orvieto-time .  So I didnít get much further than the introduction, which is Patrick Hemingwayís random and rickety apology to the world for not being his father.  The piece has a couple of redeeming qualities though.  For example, he mentions "inadvertently walking into Papaís bedroom at the house Marty [Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's third wife] had found for the two of them in Cuba when they were making love in one of those rather athletic ways recommended in manuals for the pursuit of happiness in married life."

And then there is this -- the excerpt from Ralph Ellisonís Shadow and Act:

Do you still ask why Hemingway was more important to me than Wright? Not because he was white, or more "accepted." But because he appreciated the things of this earth which I love and which Wright was too driven or deprived or inexperienced to know: weather, guns, dogs, horses, love and hate and impossible circumstances which to the courageous and dedicated could be turned into benefits and victories.  Because he wrote with such precision about the processes and techniques of daily living that I could keep myself and my brother alive during the 1937 Recession by following his descriptions of wing-shooting; because he knew the difference between politics and art and something of their true relationship for the writer.  Because all he wrote -- and this is very important -- was imbued with a spirit beyond the tragic with which I could feel at home, for it was very close to the feeling of the blues, which are, perhaps, as close as Americans can come to expressing the spirit of tragedy.

So the best part of Patrick Hemingwayís introduction is the part where he quotes someone else.  I hope his editing is better than his writing.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[domenica 09 ottobre 2011 ore 22:51:08] []

Forewords (and the things that come afterwards)

This week Iíve been struggling (in that good way, though), with the front matter bits for this book that Iím working on.  The client has identified three things that they want -- a foreword, an introduction, and an as-yet-undefined-type-of-front-matter that puts the subject of the book in the context of its larger "universe" and points out why itís the greatest thing since sliced bread (in terms of prevailing theory and best practices for that universe, etc.).

The Chicago Manual of Style has been helping a lot: just being able to say "front matter" instead of "those bits and pieces that have to be at the start before you really start" -- thatís a relief right there.  And Donald Bastian at the The BPS Books blog has helped too:

A foreword [...] is most often written by someone other than the author: an expert in the field, a writer of a similar book, etc. [to] help the publisher at the level of marketing [and] the author by putting a stamp of approval on their work.

A preface is about the book as a book.  [The] author explains briefly why they wrote the book, or how they came to write it.  They also often use the preface to establish their credibility, indicating their experience in the topic or their professional suitability to address such a topic.

The introduction is about the content of the book.  Sometimes it is as simple as that: It introduces what is covered in the book.  Other times it introduces by setting the overall themes of the book, or by establishing definitions and methodology that will be used throughout the book.  Scholarly writers sometimes use the introduction to tell their profession how the book should be viewed academically (that is, they position the book as a particular approach within a discipline or part of a discipline).

He also mentions an additional option, "How to Use This Book," which I like (along with other great-when-appropriate meta-matter like "What this book is for," "What this book is NOT for," etc. -- kudos to the Dummies series for showing us that it really IS okay to be aware of -- and engaged with -- the reader).  And lastly, I love his point about the preface being, in a sense, an apology...

Now.  If only the writing were as easy as the Googling.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[mercoledž 05 ottobre 2011 ore 11:02:08] []

Brevity, thy name is hashtag

From Carlotta, a great little piece about how the UN can communicate well and humanly, after all -- Candid Images, Useful Information: The UNís Social Media Plan.

If thereís one thing I like about Twitter, and what it can teach you about communication, itís how to tell your story (or pitch your project, or your programme, or your concept note, or your workshop, or your working group,or your high level task force; or justify why you are paid an inordinate amount of money to do your job...) -- in 140 words or less.

Exhibit A: In the article, the interviewer asks Nancy Groves, "the U.N. social media focal point" to describe their social media strategy or vision.  Her response?

"Demystify how the U.N. works -- point followers to where the latest information is online -- let citizens know how they can participate"

She could have thrown in a period.  But still.  At 133 characters, thatís pretty good.

And I liked Grovesí last point most of all:

"...donít leave social media to an intern or volunteer.  Social media is a proven, effective tool -- but one that takes time to master -- so make sure a staff member is empowered to spend sufficient time on social media efforts and also empowered to make decisions about how to word online content and when/how to post it."

Hm.  There are SOME people who need to understand this, even when weíre NOT talking about social media...

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[giovedž 04 ottobre 2011 ore 15:04:08] []

On the grapevine: JCU presents "The Art of the Prank"

It seems that Joey Skaggs is Americaís most notorious socio-political satirist, media activist, culture jammer, hoaxer, and dedicated proponent of independent thinking and media literacy (according to his web site, anyway).  Heíll be speaking at John Cabot University next Monday, October 10th, on "The Art of the Prank: Social Activism Through Media Manipulation." The event is part of the JCU Media and Communication Speakers Series -- see their Events page for more.

[nightingaleshiraz] [?]
[Via Marco Aurelio, Roma]
[mercoledž 03 ottobre 2011 ore 10:34:08] []