Category Archives: literature

Not Strictly Literary: 6 Unexpected Subjects You Learn About in English

I’m currently in the last year of my English undergraduate degree. Well, kinda. I will probably have to do an extra semester to finish off my credits completely, but after next semester I will have finally finished all my English requirements.

Like many students, I kind of fell into my major. In my first year of full time studies I was seriously considering a degree in economics, or anthropology. Until I took a class in those subjects and quickly changed my mind. Once I started figuring out what kind of classes I actually liked, I started talking about doing my degree in Sociology, Political Science, or Environmental Ethics. Then, when I transferred to UVic, I decided I would take their writing program. Well I thought I was decided, until I was invited to join the English Honours program. That invitation totally went to my head and I dropped everything in order to pursue that (very structured) program.

Because of the number of required English classes (and because I blew many of my elective classes during first year), I’ve been taking pretty-well only English classes for the last two years. During that time, I began to ask myself if I had made the best choice. After all, English is really just reading books, isn’t it? Couldn’t I do that in my own time?

Ah, reading for fun/relaxation. Can’t wait until I get to do that again.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of my degree, I’m able to look back and be thankful for (almost) all of the English classes I needed to take. Yes, I still feel like there are a million others I wish I could have taken, but I think I would have felt that way regardless of my major. There are more fantastic courses out there than what you can possibly fit into one undergraduate degree.

Getting close to the end has also allowed me to reflect on the many English courses I have taken and realize just how broad a range of subjects they actually address. I’ve included a few examples below.

Linguistics

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One of the texts we are translating for our final project.

I’m currently finishing off a class on Middle English that I did not want to take. Not at all. I’m required to take a class in early English literature, so I chose this class after a friend recommended the professor. I was then pleasantly surprised to find that it was a fantastic class. It was also not at all what I was expecting.

English has evolved considerably since the 12th century, so it’s hardly surprising that trying to read Middle English texts is like reading an entirely different language.

At the beginning of the class our professor touched on many of the other languages that have influenced the formation of the English language. Then, as the class progressed, a lot of the work we did in class involved translating various works. The translation process required a basic understanding of how to parse language, something I had almost no experience with. Like many English speakers, sentence structure is something I know intuitively, not something I’ve intentionally learned. However, if my experience in Quebec this summer taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to break down language is key to learning a new one. So I’m hopeful that the linguistic skills I’ve been struggling to learn in this class will help me with my future language learning goals. Continue reading

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer Released, Comics Lover Swears He Will Watch No More

As anyone who has been on the internet since Wednesday night probably knows, the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer has been released online. As a person who has professed his enthusiasm for comic books time and time again let me say to all of you, right now-

Shot-By-Shot Breakdown Of Avengers 2 Trailer Reveals Spoilery Details

-my mind and body are ready.

Let me follow that up by asserting that I plan on doing ever single thing within my power to not look at another trailer before I watch the full-length film next May. I repeat, I will not be watching any new trailers that are released.  Continue reading

The Strain: It’s Nosferatu on Steroids

My last quasi-review on this blog was of Helix, a sci-fi horror show about a strange and deadly contagion which had overpowered a research lab in the arctic circle. My issue wasn’t with the set or the story, but rather that Helix wasn’t really about anything. Science fiction is a medium for us to explore big ideas, like the line between humanity and technology, free will, and responsibility. The horror genre functions the same way, with its stories serving as ways for us to examine the duality of our nature…

…our place in the cosmos…

…and questions of faith.

Going into The Strain, my biggest question was “what’s this all about?”, and readers, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that it’s a blast.

Continue reading

Not A Review Of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry

The book in question, the eighth by Gabrielle Zevin, an author more known for her YA [young adult] fare, is one that I have altogether too many thoughts about. I’m choosing not to dub this post a review proper, as it’s really a slightly more cohesive version of one of the stream of consciousness responses to books/films/etc. that blogger/writer J. Caleb Mozzocco is so fond of doing.

In order to make this easier for all of you to read, and with no offence whatsoever meant to Mozzocco [whose writing I enjoy quite a bit] I have boiled down this post to the three primary thoughts I was left with once I’d closed the book.

To be upfront with everyone I also want to state, before starting, that I enjoyed reading this novel and while this will definitely make more sense having read it, I hope to have written it in such a way that doesn’t spoil anything and piques your interest enough to pick it up. Continue reading

Write Off, Write On

I’ve read all four Twilight books. Would have checked out Midnight Sun, a retelling of the first novel from Edward’s perspective, but a copy was leaked online and Meyers never ended up releasing it. My plan is to read a minimum of 52 books this year, and my hope is that 50 Shades of Grey makes it onto that list somewhere.

No, I’m not a middle-aged suburban mom who’s been catfishing you all these past two to three years. All of that was just a little background to set up today’s topic, which is our right to write about, well, anything. Continue reading

Culture War Correspondence: Censorship

GORDON: Welcome readers to another exciting installment of [redacted], where we’ll be discussing [censored] and the [undisclosed] surrounding it.
(The topic for today is censorship, for anyone baffled by my oh-so-subtle clues…)

While this topic did originate out of Evan’s and my discussion of TV (how we’d deal with rating systems, more specifically) we HAVE touched on this topic before, with our previous discussion of the UK’s automatic porn-block for British ISPs.

KAT: You guys actually included a poll in your discussion on television, too. And while there weren’t an awful lot of votes, it seems like more readers agreed with censoring daytime TV to some degree.

Censorship is such a big topic, but before we go much further, let me get an idea of how you feel about it. Is censorship ever okay? If so when? And by who?

Continue reading

Writing Issues

Well readers, I bring the joyous news that you can now, at long last, read the scribblings of yours truly on two internet sites. Primer magazine, which I reviewed in the past, was kind enough to publish an article of mine which I’ll be shamelessly plugging here. In addition, it got me thinking about writing in general, leading to our topic for today.

How can we make writing viable?

See, for the vast majority of would-be authors (myself included), writing simply isn’t a viable career, (excluding TV and movies, which are arguably a very different process). Yes, you’ve got such career novelists like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but these people represent the rare exception to the rule that writing is something you do when you’re not at your real job.

We could probably talk all day about the role of the publisher and the marketing team and everyone else involved in the process of getting the work out there, but today let’s just focus on the consumption of the product. I think there are a few factors that really contribute to the situation as it stands today. Continue reading