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Showing posts from August, 2011

Is technology good for my studies, part 1: Smartphones

It may seem rather strange to be asking this question in a blog, because the very fact that I am blogging at all suggests that I may be a convert to the cult of technology.  Mind you, if you are reading this blog then you probably are too, so perhaps it all evens out in the end.

The problem is that there are so many conflicting messages about using technology for study. Depending on what you read you may be either paranoid that you are not taking full advantage of the range of sophisticated tools for research which are available, or paranoid that by using them you are pretty much ensuring that you will fail your degree because of either weak sources or plagiary - possibly both.

So, I thought it might be useful to take some time to explore the potential, and the potential pitfalls, of relying on technology to help you through your studies. 

To begin with, I am going to look at an aspect of technology in studies which appears to be sneaking in by the backdoor, and significantly impacti…

Is 'Literature' the same thing as 'Culture'?

Why is literature worth studying?  What is the point?  If a play was written by a glove-makers son in Stratford back in the late 16th century, what makes it worth reading today?

These are questions tend to get a lot of focus at the beginning of an English degree, and which are frequently vocalised in derisory tones in any discussions about the future of Higher Education.  Those of you who have done an English degree might be able to cast your minds back all the way to your first year(oh, the good old days of youth and innocence!), and may find niggling away in some cognitive corner a recollection of the critic F. R. Leavis, whose view on this issue was dominant for some time.  He, together with the new wave of critics re-vitalising the study of literature in the early twentieth century, set out a clear set of values which students of literature should be interested in:

Its importance in human society for the sustenance of civilisationThe way it develops sensitivity to the natural respo…