Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Persistent Widows: Religious Scripts in the Illness Narratives of Anne Halkett, Ann Fanshawe, and Alice Thornton

I am happy to report that t. successfully passed her M.A. thesis defense in history at the University of Saskatchewan this morning. I am biased, of course, but when a potentially three hour long defense is over in an hour, when the examiners describe the thesis as "brilliant," "wonderfully well done," "very important," and "a treat," and when the only substantive suggestions for improving the thesis concern its future publication, it is fair to conclude that the defense went tolerably okay.

I've included the thesis abstract, which summarizes t.'s argument, and the dedication below the jump break . . .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Egocentrism and College Composition

Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing (3rd Edition)The novice writer's "natural tendency as a writer is to think primarily of himself--hence to write primarily for himself. Here, in a nutshell, lies the ultimate reason for most bad writing. He isn't aware of his egocentrism, of course, but all the symptoms of his root problem are there: he thinks through an idea only until it is passably clear to him, since, for his purposes, it needn't be any clearer; he dispenses with transitions because it's enough that he knows how his ideas connect; he uses a private system--or no system--of punctuation; he doesn't trouble to define his terms because he understands perfectly well what he means by them; he writes page after page without bothering to vary his sentence structure; he leaves off page numbers and footnotes; he paragraphs only when the mood strikes him; he ends abruptly when he decides he's had enough; he neglects to proofread the final job because the writing is over . . . Given his total self-orientation, it's no wonder that he fails repeatedly as a writer. Actually, he's not writing at all; he's merely communing privately with himself--that is, he's simply putting thoughts down on paper." - John R. Trimble, Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing (3rd Edition) (Prentice Hall, 2011), 3.

The paragraph strikes me as a particularly good description of a lot of beginning college composition, but I'm reading the book in the hope that it will help my own writing. So far Trimble's book is as bracing and brilliant as James M. Lang said it would be. Tolle Lege!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blogging hiatus

The blogging dry spell over the last several weeks has not been for want of ideas, but for lack of energy and time as the semester winds down. This will likely continue as our family enters a busy and significant week--on which more anon--as I polish off the last of my marking, and as we prepare for family visits later this spring. Then, of course, there are research projects waiting in the wings that seem more urgent than casual blogging. Nevertheless, semi-regular posting will resume eventually. In addition to several posts at various stages of drafting, I would like to begin a weekly series on Christian prophecy as a way to distill and work out ideas from this semester's Prophecy after the Prophets seminar. Look for the first installment next Sunday.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mort's Day

"Shamus and Findley sat silently on the slivered wooden bench as the dirty fog of darkness hovered over them. . . . "

So begins "Mourir," a short story I wrote as an assignment for grade 12 English. The story itself is best forgotten, but I am still intrigued by the idea of a Mort's Day--a term and concept borrowed from my high school physics teacher--which the story develops. According to Mr. Armstrong, a Mort's Day is a 24 hour period between 11:59 and 12:00 a.m. when time stops for everyone but you.

The possibilities are endless, though I most often wish for one when I enter my office and look wistfully at Edwyn C. Hoskyns and Noel Davey's The Riddle of the New Testament (London: Faber & Faber, 1931) or C.F.D. Moule's The Birth of the New Testament (3rd ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982) sitting unread on my shelves.

Perhaps as a warning against such utopian dreams, my short story concluded on a darker note, with the bench "stained red with Shamus' blood."