Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Vintage" by Amy Lowell

One of the delights of my mornings is reading the "Poem-a-Day" e-mails from the Academy of American Poets

The weekday poems are contemporary--poems usually published within the past year. Reading these "cutting edge" poems helps to keep me current in the styles and content of the poems of our time.

The weekend poems, however, are classic poems by poets from Chaucer to Dylan Thomas and everyone in between. Because my taste for poetry is firmly fixed in the 19th century with rare forays into the early 20th century (namely e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Langston Hughes, etc.), I delight in these poems, greeting them as old friends.

Often while the poets are familiar, the poems posted are not. Rarely do the weekend offerings include well-known poems; rather, the poems are often as new to me as anything by today's poets.

Such is the case with "Vintage" by Amy Lowell. I don't know a great deal about Lowell except for name recognition from literature classes in 20th century poetry and that she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, but I really enjoyed the powerful imagery in this poem and thought I'd share it with you this morning:


Amy Lowell1874 - 1925
I will mix me a drink of stars,—
Large stars with polychrome needles,
Small stars jetting maroon and crimson,
Cool, quiet, green stars.
I will tear them out of the sky,
And squeeze them over an old silver cup,
And I will pour the cold scorn of my Beloved into it,
So that my drink shall be bubbled with ice.
It will lap and scratch
As I swallow it down;
And I shall feel it as a serpent of fire,
Coiling and twisting in my belly.
His snortings will rise to my head,
And I shall be hot, and laugh,
Forgetting that I have ever known a woman.

I wish you all a lovely week! 
With warm poetic wishes,

Monday, January 5, 2015

Twelfth Night

Today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Although our school schedule states that we are starting back into our homeschooling today, I made this day very light: B is doing math only in order to stay current with his tutor's schedule, and J is reviewing his Russian from last semester in preparation for returning to Grossmont Community College for the second semester Russian an algebra class.

I am responding to the Welcome and Introductions posts for my new Brave Writer class that begins today: the Groovy Grammar Workshop which is full to capacity with 25 families and I have several more Definition essays to grade for the Expository Essay class I teach at our homeschool program's co-op Class Days. My students are juniors and seniors and are very hard workers, so I really enjoy their thoughts about the abstract terms they are attempting to define.

But tonight we'll trundle down to the vicarage and enjoy the "Burning of the Greens" as part of the Twelfth Night festivities with Blessed Trinity, a conservative Anglican church that we have been attending on Friday mornings and on Holy Days since 2006. After Evensong, we'll enjoy sherry and treats as well as each other's company as we say farewell to Christmastide and welcome Epiphany.

As I was praying through one of my devotionals last night, The One Year Book of Hymns, I came across a hymn that was more of a poem and knew immediately that I wanted to share it here. The title and refrain were familiar to me because Thomas Howard used it as a title for one of his books that has long been on my "to read some day" list.  

Lead, Kindly Light!
Lead, kindly Light! amid th' encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on;
Keep Thou my feet: I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on;
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.

So long Thy pow'r has blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

~John Henry, Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)

The story that accompanies the hymn tells of Newman returning from a trip to Catholic leaders in Italy. On the way, he contracted Sicilian fever and boarded a ship bound home to England. But the ship remained in the Mediterranean Sea, a lack of wind and dense fog keeping them motionless. Restless and ill, Newman wrote this hymn. Finally, the ship's captain pointed heavenward and said, "The star is shining tonight. If a wind rises, we can chart our course. At night one little star is sufficient." Newman took these words as divine assurance. Later he wrote that he had been searching for dazzling sunlight to be his guide, "but He sent me the kindly light of a star to show me the way one step at a time."

The Scripture included with this hymn and story is Revelation 7.15-17, TLB: 

"The one sitting on the throne will shelter them; they will never be hungry again, nor thirsty, and they will be fully protected from the scorching noontime heat. For the Lamb standing in front of the throne will feed them and be their Shepherd and lead them to springs of the Water of Life. And God will wipe their tears away."  

So as Christmastide wanes and Epiphany comes, and as we start a New Year in God's grace, may we keep in mind that His "kindly Light" will indeed lead us, often one step at a time. But that one step is sufficient if we trust in the One who kindly leads us along His pathways. 

Merry 12th Day of Christmas!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Films I Watched in 2014

Just as I track the books I read each year, I also jot down the films I watch each year. Here's my list for 2014:

films i've seen in 2014:

  • A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (1980 Made for TV)
  • A Tale of Two Cities (1989 Masterpiece Theater)
  • A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014 in theatres)
  • Captain America (2011)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014-in theatres)
  • Captain Blood (1935)
  • Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)
  • Frozen (2013)
  • Ghost Adventures (2007)
  • Great Expectations (2012)
  • Hamlet (Tennant, 2009)
  • Holiday (1938)
  • Jane Eyre (1999)
  • Jane Eyre (2010)
  • Lincoln (2012)
  • Mansfield Park (1999)
  • Monkey Business (1952)
  • Murder on the Home Front (2013)
  • Peter's Friends (1992)
  • Red Dawn (2012)
  • Sense and Sensibility (2008)
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
  • Tangled (2010)
  • That's Dancing (1985)
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
  • The Holiday (2006)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)
  • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2013)
  • The Monuments Men (2014)
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)
  • Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Just as with the books I read during the year, I also track the films I watch in the sidebar of this blog.

Happy watching!

Books I Read in 2014

For the past fourteen years, I've tracked the books I've read each year, and here is this year's list which includes a great deal of Austen fan fiction:

books i've read in 2014:
·  A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell (2008)
·  A Plain Death (#1) by Amanda Flower (2012)
·  A Plain Scandal (#2) by Amanda Flower (2013)
·  A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1859)
·  Almost Matched (#1) by A.O. Peart (2013)
·  An Age of Extremes (A History of US Book 8) by Joy Hakim (2003)
·  Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke (2010)
·  Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (2013)
·  Death on Blackheath by Anne Perry (Pitt #29) (2014)
·  Dorchester Terrace by Anne Perry (2012)
·  Dreaming of Mr. Darcy by Victoria Connelly (2012)
·  Fatally Flaky by Diane Mott Davidson (2009)
·  Feint Art by Hailey Lind (2006)
·  Impulse & Initiative by Abigail Reynolds (2008)
·  Innocence by Elise deSallier (2013)
·  Midnight at Marble Arch by Anne Perry (2013)
·  Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale (2012)
·  Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly (2012)
·  Mr. Darcy's Obsession by Abigail Reynolds (2010)
·  North by Northanger (#3) by Carrie Bebris (2006)
·  Passion and Propriety by Elise deSallier (2014)
·  Pride and Prescience (#1) by Carrie Bebris (2004) (re-read)
·  Protection by Elise deSallier (2014)
·  Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers (1930)
·  Suspense and Sensibility (#2) by Carrie Bebris (2005) (re-read)
·  The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History by A. Kenneth Curtis 
· The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh (2010)
· The Book Stops Here (Bibliophile Mystery #8) by Kate Carlisle (2014)
· The Deception at Lyme (#6) by Carrie Bebris (2011)
· The Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie (1949) (re-read)
· The Executive's Decision by Bernadette Marie (2011)
· The Intrigue at Highbury (#5) by Carrie Bebris (2010)
· The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2006) (re-read)
· The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds (2010)
· The Matters at Mansfield (#4) by Carrie Bebris (2008)
· The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain (1882)
· The Tidings (A Ghost Huntess novella) by Marley Gibson (2012)
· The Truth in Lies by Jeanne McDonald (2013)
· The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler (2008)
· Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh (1998)
· Treason at Lisson Grove by Anne Perry (2012) (re-read)
· Twelfth Night at Longbourn by Maria Grace (2013)
· Waiting for Rachel by KR Jordan (2013)
· War, Peace, and All That Jazz (A History of US Book 9) by Joy Hakim (2003)
· What Would Mr. Darcy Do? by Abigail Reynolds (2011)
· Wholly Unconnected with Me by Maria Grace (2014)
· You Had Me at Merlot by Marley Gibson (2014)

So as my goal for 2014 was to read 50 novels, I made it to 47 which isn't too awfully terrible considering how crazy-busy my year has been. 

2015? Let's try to read 50 again. Any takers? My running total will be in the sidebar of my blog throughout the year, as usual. 

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

In Memoriam: PD James

Ever since I picked up my first Nancy Drew mystery in the fifth grade, I have been a passionate devotee of the mystery novel. I roared through all 56 of the original hardcover Nancy Drew mysteries, followed immediately by the Trixie Belden series of teen mysteries which were so popular in the late 1970's.

In high school after getting my first job as a bookstore clerk at B. Dalton Booksellers, I discovered Mary Higgins Clark's Where Are the Children? and I was hooked. I distinctly remember staying up until three in the morning reading the deliciously creepy-crawly A Cry in the Night and finishing it during my first period Algebra II class, the paperback in my lap, my textbook on the desk.

I had a short-lived relationship with Stephen King while I was in college; Salem's Lot kept me from walking unaccompanied to or from the library after dark. I much preferred his short stories in Skeleton Key. 

After college, grad school, and kids, I found my niche in the mystery market with Anne Perry's Victorian London Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series, Victoria Thompson's Gaslight series set in turn-of-the-century New York City, and PD James' mystery series featuring contemporary London's Detective Chief-Inspector Dalgliesh. While I admire and enjoy other mystery series, especially Kate Carlisle's delightful Bibliophile Mysteries and Marley Gibson's Ghost Huntress series of young-adult paranormal novels, Perry, Thompson, and James are the trinity of contemporary mystery writers in my book (pardon the pun).

Of course, one cannot forget the incomparable Lord Peter Wimsey series by Dorothy Sayers which started in 1923 with Whose Body? and  ended with Lord Peter and Harriet Vane's rather exciting post-nuptials mystery Busman's Honeymoon in 1937. Spanning eleven novels and several short story collections, Lord Peter will always be my number one literary sleuth, but as Sayers is not a contemporary mystery writer, she's not part of the contemporary mystery author trifecta listed above,

(Although Jill Paton Walsh has done a lovely job in completing (with permission of Sayers' family) the unfinished Thrones and Dominions in 1998 and has since written A Presumption of Death (2002) based loosely on Sayers' The Wimsey Papers published during World War II in The Spectator, and The Attenbury Emeralds (2010). As I looked up Walsh's works today, I noticed that she has published a new Wimsey mystery, The Late Scholar (2014) which I just reserved from the library.)

Now returning to my fave three contemporary mystery authors....

While I knew that PD James was past ninety, I have been hoping for just one more Dalgliesh mystery despite her statement that The Private Patient (2008) was Dalgliesh's final mystery. Her last publication was a Jane Austen mystery entitled Death Comes to Pemberley which was made into a movie in Britain and was featured on PBS last month. With her death on November 27th, the long reign of her poet-detective Adam Dalgliesh, along with her other mysteries, is over...unless she has finished or nearly finished a final novel that we will learn about later.

The world of mystery readers will be in mourning for a long time as James (technically "The Right Honourable Baroness James of Holland Park") started her Dalgliesh mystery series in 1962 with Cover Her Face and finished the series of fourteen novels with The Private Patient in 2008. James also wrote two Cordelia Gray mysteries plus a few miscellaneous mysteries including Death Comes to Pemberley (2011).

So now my beloved living mystery author trifecta of Perry, Thompson, and James has been broken...although the recent continuation of the classic Lord Peter Wimsey series by Jill Paton Walsh has perhaps suggested a possible replacement. (As if anyone could possibly replace PD James....)

Now it's back to grading MLA research first drafts for me....

(Please note the title of the novel on my desk beside the stack of essays I'm grading back in 2010....)


Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent

When  the sermon started at Pine Valley Community Church last week, you could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. Our interim pastor, Pastor Jim, started informing our church about Advent, and the topic of his sermons up until Christmas will be the significance of the four candles in the Advent wreath: Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, plus the central white candle, the Christ candle. This is a different set of meanings from the sobering Anglican tradition (Death, Judgment, Heaven [thus the lightening of the penitential purple candles to a rose-colored one], and Hell) as well as the evangelical tradition we observed at Lake Murray (Prophecy Candle, Bethlehem Candle, Shepherd Candle, Angel Candle).

As regular readers of this blog will know, celebrating the Christian Year is one of my passions, and Advent has been central to our family's devotional life since the kids were small. So I was thrilled beyond belief to have Advent being preached from the pulpit; I somehow managed to restrain myself from standing up and applauding mid-sermon. ;) 

The term "Advent" means "coming" or "arrival" and refers to the first Incarnation of Christ as well as the expected second coming of Christ. Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest to the Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30), and ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). If Christmas Eve is a Sunday, it is counted as the fourth Sunday of Advent with Christmas Eve proper beginning at sundown.

Advent also marks the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition.

We've been celebrating Advent since 2001 in our household. Keith made us the tabletop Advent wreath above, and through the years we have celebrated Advent with different materials. We read through the adventure books Jotham's Journey and Tabitha's Travels which tell an adventure story that ends on December 24th at the manger and the birth of the Christ Child. We've also used a little book called Christ in the Carols, a devotional with the lyrics to and the background of each carol with a closing meditation and prayer. We've used the Scripture readings from Focus on the Family or the Lectionary from the Book of Common Prayer. As the kids grow up, each year we do something slightly different.

Each family member has his/her turn to light the Advent candle(s) in the wreath and to read the Scripture from the Advent calendar wall hanging Keith's sister made for us with 25 hand-embroidered pockets for candy/gifts and a laminated Scripture verse attached to each one.

The Book of Common Prayer 2011 has the Collect for the First Sunday in Advent which is to be prayed during the Advent season until Christmas Day:


ALMIGHTY God, give us grace to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now during this present life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, so that at the last day when he will come again in glorious majesty to judge the living and the dead, we may rise to eternal life; Through him who lives and rules with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. (References: Romans 13.12; 2 Timothy 4.1; Philippians 2.5-8; 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17)

Advent is richly symbolic. The light of the candles reminds us that Jesus is “the light of the world” and that we are also called to “walk in the light, as He is in the light.” The purple of the candles symbolizes the royalty of Christ, the Almighty who “made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” The rose candle reminds us that hope and peace are near, available only through God. The white candle, the Christ candle, recalls Christ’s holiness, purity – He who was without sin who died for the sins of all. The greenery, symbolizing abundant life, surrounds a circular wreath – never ending, eternal life. The red of the holly berries reminds us of His blood to be shed on the cross for us. 

The origins of the Advent wreath are found in the folk practices of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples who, during the cold December darkness of Eastern Europe, gathered wreaths of evergreen and lighted fires as signs of hope in a coming spring and renewed light. Christians kept these popular traditions alive, and by the 16th century Catholics and Protestants throughout Germany used these symbols to celebrate their Advent hope in Christ, the everlasting Light. From Germany the use of the Advent wreath spread to other parts of the Christian world. Traditionally, the wreath is made of four candles in a circle of evergreens. Three candles are violet and the fourth is rose. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent.

Historically, the primary sanctuary color of Advent is purple, the color of penitence and fasting as well as the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the King. The purple of Advent is also the color of suffering used during Lent and Holy Week which points to an important connection between Jesus’ birth and death: The nativity, the Incarnation, cannot be separated from the crucifixion. The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world, of the "Word made flesh" and dwelling among us, is not only to reveal God and His grace to the world through Jesus’ life and teaching, but also through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

To reflect this emphasis, originally Advent was a time of penitence and fasting, much as the Season of Lent and so shared the color of Lent. In the four weeks of Advent, the third Sunday came to be a time of rejoicing that the fasting was almost over (in some traditions it is called Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for "rejoice"). The shift from the purple of the Season to pink or rose for the third Sunday Advent candles reflected this lessening emphasis on penitence as attention turned more to celebration of the season. 

The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Thus, Advent is far more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history; it is celebrating a truth about God, the revelation of God in Christ whereby all of creation might be reconciled to God. That is a process in which we now participate, and the consummation of which we anticipate. Scripture reading for Advent will reflect this emphasis on the Second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment of sin, and the hope of eternal life. In this double focus on past and future. 

Advent also symbolizes the spiritual journey of individuals and a congregation as they affirm that Christ has come, that He is present in the world today, and that He will come again in power and glory. That acknowledgment provides a basis for Kingdom ethics, for holy living arising from a profound sense that we live "between the times" and are called to be faithful stewards of what is entrusted to us as God’s people. So, as the church celebrates God’s inbreaking into history in the Incarnation and anticipates a future consummation to that history for which "all creation is groaning awaiting its redemption," it also confesses its own responsibility as a people commissioned to "love the Lord your God with all your heart" and to "love your neighbor as yourself."

The primary focus of Advent is Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as we wait together to celebrate His birth, death, and glorious resurrection. 

My favorite Advent devotional is Watching for the Light, and from it I have jotted down some wonderful quotations, including the one for this week:
"Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent -- that is, a time of waiting for the Ultimate."
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
So enjoy your family or church celebrations of the Advent season. I'm so glad I started the Advent tradition when our kids were fairly small so that it has become an important part of their childhood memories. 

NOTE: I'm sorry that this blog has been practically silent since school began--it's been a truly crazy autumn with an overwhelming teaching load which caused a flare-up of my autoimmune illness. So here at last is a post--yay!! :) 

Wishing you a blessed and holy Advent,

Friday, August 29, 2014

Teaching 2014-2015 Classes at Heritage Class Days and Brave Writer

This fall will be a very busy one for me. In addition to homeschooling our two high school boys (a freshman and a senior—our other two have already graduated high school), I will be teaching writing and literature classes at Heritage Christian School’s East County II Class Days Co-op as well as online writing and literature courses at Brave Writer.

I’ve taught at Heritage’s Class Days since 1997 when we officially started homeschooling our four children. This year I will continue teaching Expository Essay I (formerly Intermediate Writing) to fifteen students. This class is based on the Writing 110 (freshman composition) courses I taught at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) before we started our homeschooling adventures.

We will be covering the descriptive essay (Keen Observation from Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle), the personal essay, the comparison and contrast essays, the definition essay, the literary analysis essay, the poetry explication essay, the in-class timed essay, the revised essay, the persuasive essay, and the MLA research essay over the school year. We meet in class only eighteen times over the school year, so the students usually have two weeks in which to write and submit their essays via e-mail; I comment and grade their essays, returning them before the next essay assignment is due so that they may apply my suggestions to their next assignment.

This year I am also preparing a new class: Discussing Shakespeare. This class is based on the many Shakespeare plays I have taught online through Brave Writer. No written work will be submitted; this course focuses on reading and discussing the comedy, history, and tragedy plays of Shakespeare, including clips from filmed performances (either actual movie versions or films of stage plays), reading certain scenes aloud, discussing the background, characters, poetry, and themes of the plays, etc. We will start with a look at Shakespeare’s life, times, and writing style and the Elizabethan Theatre scene, and then we’ll explore three comedic plays (Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice), two historical plays (Henry V, Richard III), and three tragic plays (Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet). Before each class meeting, I’ll e-mail links to audio versions of the plays, film recommendations, humorous links regarding the plays, etc., to the students to help them to thoroughly enjoy the plays.

While the courses at ECII Class Day will extend all the way to the final days of May, the classes I teach at Brave Writer are of much shorter (yet far more intense) duration. On September 2, I’ll start teaching a four week high school class entitled Literary Analysis: A Tale of Two Cities. We will read and discuss this Dickens novel for three weeks, and then finish the class with the students choosing one of the four options for their Final Writing Project: 1) writing a letter from one character to another; 2) writing a formal review of one of the several recommended film versions of the novel; 3) writing a comparison/contrast essay on two characters from the novel; or 4) writing an exploratory essay on a theme from the novel. After completing the class, students will receive a Brave Writer High School Transcript form detailing their final course grade, the contents of the class, and the high school credits earned.

Literary Analysis: A Tale of Two Cities will be followed by the five-week Literary Analysis: British Poetry which will provide a survey of British poetry as well as in-depth analysis of nine poems (three per week) following a week of learning how to analyze a poem. The Final Writing Project will entail a poetry explication essay on one of four British poems not yet studied by the students. Poems for analysis and explication are still being chosen but should cover the major movements of British Poetry (Medieval, Renaissance, Neoclassical, Romantic, Victorian, Modern, Post-Modern).

Following the two Literary Analysis courses at Brave Writer will be one of my favorite courses, the six-week MLA Research Essay. Using the seventh edition of the Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, students will be taught how to select an appropriate persuasive topic, how to locate sources and create source notes, how to take notes from these sources, how to write and format an outline, how to draft an MLA research essay using parenthetical citations, how to revise the first draft (with feedback from other students and the instructor) in a virtual read-around, how to format a Works Cited and create a Title Page, and finally, they will submit their final draft, including Title Page, Outline, 5-7 page Research Essay, and Works Cited to be graded by the instructor and returned via e-mail with comments, a grade, and a Brave Writer High School Transcript form detailing their final course grade, the contents of the class, and the high school credits earned.

In Brave Writer’s winter term, I will be teaching two family workshops: the Groovy Grammar Workshop and the Playing with Poetry Workshop. Both workshop classes are set at one price for the entire family, and activities are provided for students ages 6-18, rather like a buffet in which families choose which activities will be most valuable for their students. Parents are also encouraged to do these activities along with their students, and I’ve received some amazing poems from parents in past years. In addition to the two workshop classes, I’ll also be teaching Literary Analysis: Rebecca. Daphne DuMaurier’s wonderfully gothic mystery will be a delight to discuss and analyze, and the same four options for Final Writing Projects as we saw with A Tale of Two Cities will be required of students. All three courses are four weeks in length.

In the spring term at Brave Writer, I’ll be teaching another family workshop class, the Shakespeare Family Workshop. A five-week workshop, we’ll explore Shakespeare’s life and times, the Elizabethan theatre scene (Week One), Shakespeare’s writing style and his sonnets (Week Two), and then we’ll spend the final three weeks on Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, one week on each. As with the other two family workshop courses, a variety of activities will be made available, and each family may choose the activities that will work best for their family learning style, ages, interest levels, etc. Lots of fun links are provided to charm the least-eager fan of the Bard. And finally, we’ll end the spring term with Literary Analysis: Twelfth Night. Set up similarly to the Literary Analysis courses on A Tale of Two Cities and Rebecca, we’ll explore Shakespeare’s life and times, the Elizabethan theatre, and Shakespeare’s use of language (Week One) before reading and discussing the play in-depth for two weeks, and then complete the class with the same Final Writing Project options as the other two classes.

In the summer, I hope to teach the Fan Fiction class again. This course allows creative writing—writing stories based on popular books, movies, video games, TV shows, etc. With students already knowing their characters well from the original works, story writing becomes much more exciting as we learn to extend our favorite characters into new adventures. Fan Fiction is a wonderful way to keep kids writing over the summer without realizing that they are actually writing; it’s that fun!  

Plus I have essays being submitted for comments and grading through my website,  Homeschooling families from across the US send me their junior high and high school essays, and for $10 per double-spaced, 12-point font page/part page, I offer copious commentary, suggestions for improvement, encouragement, and a letter grade for the assignment. To read more about my online essay grading service, check out Susanne Barrett: Online Essay Grading Service. Sample graded essays are also available for review. 

So these courses are my teaching load for this year. I’ll definitely be quite busy, but I’ll also be having so much fun teaching on and writing about British literature and many more of my favorite topics.

Have a wonderful fall,


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