Reading 14-20 April 2013 (ZiR)

shakespeare_graffiti_in_japan_by_reaperc-d50tbyzRachael Benavidez, Zeteo Associate Editor

[One in an ongoing series of posts. For the full series see
Zeteo is Reading.]

14 April 2013

To blog or not to blog. The question is does it make you a better writer? Maria Konnikova, a writer and a doctoral candidate in Psychology at Columbia University, argues that it does. In her article “Why Grad Schools Should Require Students to Blog” on the Scientific American blog, she discusses her experience working on her dissertation and how it helped her to be a better writer. She cites a 2007 scientific study from Saint Louis University’s Psychology Department “Improving the Writing of College Students” to prove her argument:

Advanced writing skills are an important aspect of academic performance as well as of subsequent work-related performance. However, American students rarely attain advanced scores on assessments of writing skills (National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2002). In order to achieve higher levels of writing performance, the working memory demands of writing processes should be reduced so that executive attention is free to coordinate interactions among them. This can in theory be achieved through deliberate practice that trains writers to develop executive control through repeated opportunities to write and through timely and relevant feedback. Automated essay scoring software may offer a way to alleviate the intensive grading demands placed on instructors and, thereby, substantially increase the amount of writing practice that students receive.

Good to know.

15 April 2013

Today, I didn’t read anything but tax forms, so not much to share.

16 April 2013

It’s a blustery spring day in NYC, and I’m reading Ann Petry’s The Street (1946), a bestselling novel about a character named Lutie Johnson’s experiences in 1940’s Harlem. Petry’s personification of the wind provides a sense of foreboding as the novel, which has been described as “tragic” and “heartbreaking,” begins.

There was a cold November wind blowing through 116th Street…

It found every scrap of paper along the street — theater throwaways, announcements of dances and lodge meetings, the heavy waxed paper that loaves of bread had been wrapped in, the thinner waxed paper that had enclosed sandwiches, old envelopes, newspapers. Fingering its way along the curb, the wind set the bits of paper dancing high in the air, so that a barrage of paper swirled into the faces of the people on the street. It even took time to rush into doorways and areaways and find chicken bones and pork-chop bones and pushed them along the curb.

It did everything it could to discourage the people walking along the street….It wrapped newspaper around their feet entangling them until the people cursed deep in their throats, stamped their feet, kicked at the paper.

Fortunately, today’s wind, which nearly blew a plastic bag into my head (I ducked just in time), did not discourage me from walking along the street, but provided amusement for a passing six-year-old boy and for me.

18 April 2013

Speaking of the weather, on The New Yorker blog Germaine Greer wonders “Did Shakespeare Love the Cruellest Month?” She notes that “No other month is mentioned half as often in his works as showery, windy, sometimes unforgettably exquisite April,” and quotes from, amongst others, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Act I, Scene 3, lines 85-88:

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.

Never mind the looming clouds, then.



Photo: Graffiti in Japan

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