Saturday, 28 April 2018
Friday, 27 April 2018
Wednesday, 4 April 2018
Minstrels and Knights
scops composed poems and performed them, usually with the accompaniment of a harp. Later, however, they were replaced by minstrels. Minstrels were a kind of professional entertainer: they would wander from court to court or had a fix abode at the court of a noble. They sang and recited lyrics and narratives, including ballads and romances.
Minstrels sang about romances whose main character was the knight, a central figure in the Middle Ages. This figure grew in importance as a result of the prosperity achieved by the courts, particularly in France, where the nobles wanted to hear stories about heroes, adventures and chivalry.
The knight was an idealised figure in literature. He was expected to uphold a code of chivalry which was usually associated with ideals of honour, courtly love and virtue. He was expected to be loyal to his king or lord, fight for him in battle and, if necessary, sacrifing himself for honour.
Another knightly phenomenon was courtly love, a love relationship between a knight and his lady, in which the knight served his beloved with the same loyalty he had for his king or lord.
The duties of a knight also included a Christian element: faith in God and commitment to fight against evil. The knight was also expected to protect the weak and the poor, to be humble before others, merciful to his enemies and gentle to the noble ladies.
Saturday, 31 March 2018
Since the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, in which a former student of the school killed seventeen students and staff with a legally acquired semiautomatic rifle, several of the survivors have become veteran public speakers. Among them 17-year-old Emma Gonzales who, during the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., galvanized the crowd with her words and, especially, with her silence.
In the worksheet below you'll find reading comprehension activities (read and fill in the gaps, read and answer the questions) a listening comprehension task (watch the video and answer the questions) and questions for discussion. (B2/C1)
Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Tuesday, 6 February 2018
When Queen Elizabeth I died with no heir in 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England. It was the beginning of the Stuart Dynasty.
James I Stuart 1603-1625
- James was the son of Mary Stuart who had been condemned to death by Elizabeth I in 1587
- As James the VI of Scotland he united the two kingdoms of England and Scotland under one crown with the name of James I
- He was a protestant, unlike his mother
- Like the Tudors, he worked with a small council of ministers
- He only summoned Parliament to ask for money
- He surrounded himself with Scottish favourites and his court was disreputable, corrupt
- That caused a pessimistic view of human nature we can recognize in the works of two famous playwrights of the time, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare (especially in his last works: Henry VIII , Othello, Macbeth, The Tempest)
Thursday, 21 December 2017
A scandalous novel by a clergyman's daughter
Emily Brontë was a clergyman’s daughter. She grew up in a remote part of England, in Howarth, a tiny village in Yorkshire. She didn’t like to travel. When she left home she became ill. She never married and she died at the age of 30 having published her only novel and some poetry.
Wuthering Heights was one of the most shocking novel in English literature. When it was first published in 1847, it created a firestorm of protest. It was called “one of the most repellent book ever published”. One critic said it should be burnt. The protest only settle down when the second edition came out and the author was revealed to be the daughter of a parson from west-Yorkshire. How had a parson’s daughter created such a threat to civilized society as Heathcliff, a hero driven by sexual passion and vengeance and, instead of a proper Victorian heroine, she gave the world a married woman who runs around on the moor in her nightgown with her lover. The reading public was shocked. Shocked. But the novel has never been out of print and has had many film adaptations.
Sunday, 5 November 2017
It's a fateful moment in history. We've seen divisive elections, divided societies and the growth of extremism -- all fueled by anxiety and uncertainty. "Is there something we can do, each of us, to be able to face the future without fear?" asks Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. In this electrifying talk, the spiritual leader gives us three specific ways we can move from the politics of "me" to the politics of "all of us, together."
Friday, 3 November 2017
European Influence of Machiavelli
The influence of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469 - 1527) on European poliical and philosophical thought and literature was immense in the 16th and 17th century, particularly with his famous treatise on politics and statecraft: Il Principe (written 1513 - published 1531). This fame, however, was very much contrasted both in Italy and in Europe.
In Italy, Il Principe was officially condemned by the Church at the Council of Trento (1545) and in 1559 the book was finally included in the Indice dei Libri Proibiti because of its atheism and anthi-religious doctrines. In many European countries, on the other hand, Il Principe was considered to be he instrument of Jesuit propaganda against Protestants and Catholics because he was the first to separate politics from ethics or religion. In his treatise, Machiavelli portrayed not the ideal ruler but the kind of ruler that emerged from a study of past and present history.
Thursday, 12 October 2017
Date and Sources
Much Ado About Nothing marks Shakespeare's greatest achievement in comedy with As You Like It and The Twelfth Night. The date of its first performance was 1598 and it was probably printed two years later. A story by Italian author Matteo Bandello is the source of the plot (as it happened for Romeo and Juliet too). Shakespeare read Bandello in the French version by Belleforest in his Histoires Tragiques.
The central part of the action turns on two main plots: the Hero-Claudio plot, which is a conventional story belonging to the tragi-comedy type, and the Beatrice-Benedick plot, belonging to the comedy of wit. In this way we are offered differrent views of the same reality, views which we might call respectively romantic and realistic, in whose clash and interrelatio lies a great part of the substance of the play.
Sunday, 1 October 2017
Monday, 25 September 2017
Read the conversation between Holden Caufield (16), the protagonist of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, and his little sister, Phoebe. He has just come back home after escaping from the last college he was expelled from and after wandering around New York City for a few days... "Old Phoebe", 10 years old, wants to know why he escaped and disappeared . She asks him if there is anything he likes in his life, because he doesn't seem to like anything...
The Phoniness of the World
"You can't even think of one thing"
"Yes, I can, I can"
"Well do it, then"
"I like Allie", I said. "And I like doing what I'm doing right now. Sitting here with you, and talking , and thinking about stuff, and - "
Wednesday, 13 September 2017
Friday, 1 September 2017
Dante’s use of the Arthurian legend
By the late 13th century the Arthurian legend and its stories were so well-known throughout Europe that Dante could use them for one of the most famous episodes of his Divina Commedia: that of the tragic love and death of Paolo and Francesca (Inferno, Canto V). Dante placed the two lovers from Rimini in the ring (girone) of the lustful (lussuriosi). Virgil, who is Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatory, first points out to Dante some of the famous figures in the ground of the lustful: some of them come from classical history and literature - Helen of Troy, Dido, Cleopatra; others – such as Tristan – come straight from the Arthurian legend.
Tristan, one of the bravest knights of the Round Table, is there because of his adulterous love for Isolde, wife to King Mark of Cornwall – who was Tristan’s uncle and who finally killed him.
Thursday, 3 August 2017
Thursday, 13 July 2017
|Jamie Campbell Bower and Laurie Davidson as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare in TNT drama series|
William Shakespeare is one of the most widely known authors in the world and in history, but we actually know very little about the man. For instance, we know very little about his life during two major spans of time, commonly referred to as the "lost years": 1578-82 and 1585-92. The first period covers the time after Shakespeare left grammar school, until his marriage to Anne Hathaway in November of 1582. The second period covers the seven years of Shakespeare's life in which he must have been perfecting his dramatic skills and collecting sources for the plots of his plays. The TV series “WILL”, which premiered on TNT on 10th July 2017, in a very imaginative way, tries to fill in the seven years’ gap.
WILL tells the wild story of young William Shakespeare's arrival onto the punk-rock theater scene in 16th century London -- the seductive, violent world where his raw talent faced rioting audiences, religious fanatics and raucous side-shows. It’s a contemporary version of Shakespeare's life, played to a modern soundtrack that exposes all his recklessness, lustful temptations and brilliance.
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
The Teacher job is very stressful. It's not a small thing to be responsible for an entire generation of students. Teachers don't just share knowledge with their class, they form the way kids think and perceive the world. Managing one or more classes is a serious endeavor and takes a lot of time, will and experience. There are a number of things you need to pay attention to and luckily there is a solution for that. TeacherKit is a powerful app that allows teachers to manage their class with ease. What TeacherKit is and how it can help you, we shall see in this article.
Sunday, 2 July 2017
It was published in 2012 and since then over 5 million people have read it. Anyone who's read #1 New York Times bestseller WONDER by R. J. Palacio has fallen in love with Auggie (August) Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. A movie based on the book is coming soon starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
While learning to speak English, pronunciation is probably one of the biggest frustrations we may experience.But here are two lovely young ladies ready to help us in our journey through awkward combinations of letters and sounds.
Emma and Lucy have many videos on their Youtube channels with useful pronunciation tips. (HERE and HERE)
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
Friday, 20 January 2017
Friday, 13 January 2017
Monday, 9 January 2017
When you look at Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, what do you see: a woman of faith? a scholar, a mom, a sister? or an oppressed, brainwashed, potential terrorist? In this personal, powerful talk, Mogahed asks us, in this polarizing time, to fight negative perceptions of her faith in the media — and to choose empathy over prejudice.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
A context of fear
|The Salem Girls in The Crucible (The Old Vic, London, 2014)|
Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in the 1950s, in a climate of fear, during the Cold War, when communist infiltration of US culture was considered a pathology, a virus that could kill their politics and their nation.
Writers and intellectuals gravitated to communism during the 1930s Depression, either hoping its precepts could lead to social reform or as a way to protest America’s isolationism, specifically the nation’s neutrality in the Spanish War. In the 50s, in a period of right-wing paranoia, they became Senator McCarthy’s scapegoats. They were considered Un-American. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) turned its attention to writers and actors who were supposedly seen as a threat to the republic. Those who in the 1930s had embraced radical politics were now to be made to pay.
In January 1952 Elia Kazan, Miller’s friend and film director, was summoned by the Committee. Although at first he refused to name names, he changed his mind, confessing what he had done and said to Miller, who then left Kazan’s house and drove directly to Salem, Massachusetts to research what would become The Crucible.