Archive for May, 2012

Title: How did language evolve?

Speakers: Josh Clark and Charles “Chuck” Bryant from Stuff You Should Know

Provider: HowStuffWorks.com

I was beginning to dread that I would never get to recommend this brilliant series of podcasts on our blog because the subjects of individual tracks are so different and not really what we should write about. But here it is: a podcast about linguistics from my favourite pair of podcasters. Admittedly my fellow student’s won’t get much new knowledge out of it – but it’s a good place to start revising for the finals – remember what we spoke of in introduction to linguistics classes in the first semester.

With that said I have learned something interesting from the podcast – the alternative view of how the language came to be – so far I’ve only been familiar with Chomsky’s hypothesis.

All in all Stuff You Should Know is for me the epitome of what a non-university podcast should be – not overly professional, yet providing valuable information (with sources) and often extremely amusing. The variety of subjects is impossible to describe – they go from funny lists (10 fun festivals) through economy (How Bail Works), social issues (Guerilla Gardening) to science (How Medical Marijuana Works). What really proves the quality of the podcast is that those guys are capable of saying that they are wrong and actually request insight from listeners.They are also involved in a very admirable thing – kiva.org (if you don’t know what it is they did a podcast about it)- and they’ve already reached a million dollars donated under SYSK (StuffYouShouldKnow) team.

I think it is the best easy listening – when you don’t really have the energy for anything overly intellectual and when you’re stuck with boring chores – this is the way to go.

I did not add the link at the top as usual, because I found the podcast in several places so you have to choose which source is the most convenient for you. Though I think that the full list of podcasts is only on iTunes, but I’m not sure.





by Izabela


Read Full Post »

Title: Literary Criticism: Key Terms and Concepts

Speaker: Each talk is delivered by a different speaker

Provider: Cambridge University

Finally a podcast from Cambridge – so far It could look like I’m favouring Oxford (or Warwick for the matter) but I can promise I’m not.

I’m back with literary criticism – it is one of my favourite subjects and I know that many students at my home University have problems with grasping just how many ways can a text be read. This series is a little different then Modes of reading I’ve written about before. It is more about the tools used by writers then the way a text is then read. For instance one track (by Alex Houen ) deals with the sublime – a concept that too is difficult to grasp by many students (maybe it’s is not familiar because we are not native speakers of English?). I’ve felt the sense of the sublime before – for example in a grand gothic cathedral, but never had a name to put with the feeling – there is no such word in Polish. The podcast explains everything there is to know about it and analyses it on the example of various literary works.

I really recommend listening to this podcast, especially to my fellow students – it will be useful not only in literary criticism classes (and on the final) but also in the history of English Literature – the word appeared on the midterm test and, as not many people gave the correct answer, it will probably appear on the final exam. So don’t leave it for later, download the podcast and listen to it while in the bus, or underground, or walking or … (name your favourite method of commuting here). Go listen!  (and then come back and comment :-P)

by Izabela

Read Full Post »

Title: Great Writers Inspire

Speakers: each talk is delivered by a different speaker

Provider: Oxford University

Absolutely fascinating series of lectures. So far I’ve listened to four -(while running, might I add – sorry couldn’t resist sharing the personal achievement to start exercising again after a too-long break). Anyway they held my attention completely allowing me to run longer then I thought I could – I simply was to lost in the lectures to notice the passing time. The podcasts provide interesting insight I would have never thought about myself – how the life situation and the environment of the writers influenced their work. At first I was afraid the analysis would be very psychoanalytical – and I’m not a fan. Fortunately I was wrong. For example in the lecture about Shakespeare, Tiffany Stern talks about how being an actor and writing for a specific group of people affected the plays. To elaborate – in the earlier plays the fool is often silly, not to say stupid, but then a new actor was engaged and the roles changed completely – the jester became the wisest person in the whole play – like Touchstone in “As you like it”.

For someone who does not necessarily enjoy Shakespeare you may still like the series as each talk is about a different author Here is the list of the tracks:

  • Shakespeare and the Stage by Tiffany Stern
  • Beowulf by Francis Leneghan
  • Jonathan Swift and the Art of Undressing by Abigail Williams
  • 18th Century Labouring Class Poetry by Jennifer Batt
  • William Blake by David Fallon
  • George Eliot – A Very Large Brain by Catherine Brown
  • Katherine Mansfield and Rhythm Magazine by Faith Binckes
  • Olive Schreiner by Elleke Boehmer
  • J.M. Coetzee by Peter McDonald
  • Why Dickens? by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst
  • Only Collect: An Introduction to the World of the Poetic Miscellany by Abigail Williams
  • The Lure of the East: the Oriental and Philosophical State in Eighteenth-Century England by Ros Ballaster
  • John Milton by Anna Beer
  • Mary Leapor by Jenny Batt
  • Ezra Pound by Rebecca Beasley
  • Chaucer by Daniel Wakelin

I can wholeheartedly recommend the series. The lectures are available both as audio and video and the quality is very good – some podcasts too are too quite to listen in a bus, or anywhere noisy – but this is not the case. So go listen and tell me your thoughts…. I know I’ve said this before, but … Anyone?

by Izabela

Read Full Post »

Title: ”Jane Austen’s Equations”
”Irony in Jane Austen’s Novels”
Speaker: Sandie Byrne

It is the high time for the third author of this blog to reveal herself at last – and to invite you to the world of the author of my favourite books!
Jane Austen’s novels are absolutely unique, full of charm and elegance. Unfortunately, we often cannot admire them fully and appreciate all the details which are hidden on the pages of “Pride and Prejudice” or “Emma”, because we simply lack the knowledge of Austen’s times. These two very short podcasts provide the essential background for reading her works.
“Jane Austen’s Equations” presents things which every man and every woman in England of that time had to take into consideration while arranging marriages – it touches ticklish problem of money and the position in social hierarchy. I am glad that today we do not have to do our equations and worry about our potential income…
”Irony in Jane Austen’s Novels” is a great introduction to the analysis of the narrator in Austen’s works. After listening to this podcast I am quite convinced that the significant element of these books, which makes them so special, is this fantastic sense of humour allowing the reader not to treat some situations or characters too seriously. I think it is inherent part of Jane Austen’s style and I agree that it is in fact impossible to transfer the narrator’s irony into the adaptations of the novels (which does not mean, of course, that the attempts to achieve it should not be made). I hope these small pieces will help you to enjoy Austen’s novels even more.

by Alicja

Read Full Post »