history and literature

Things you find out from reading the 20-page introduction to Dracula:

  • Bram Stoker was queer af
  • Walt Whitman called Stoker “a sassy youngster”
  • Which is yet more proof that Whitman was the 19th-century American incarnation of Tumblr
  • Though to be fair, Stoker was sending him a lot of fanmail
  • Bram Stoker married Oscar Wilde’s ex-girlfriend??? This girl really doesn’t care about her husband’s sexual orientation
  • Intro confirms that Stoker’s wife was either ace or lesbian
  • Dracula is based on the actor Henry Irving, Stoker’s crush friend
  • Apparently Irving was a total jerk, but Stoker was all  (♥ ∀ ♥)
  • Irving just happens to have no interest in women
  • Stoker becomes completely depressed after Irving dies
  • ya know
  • just bros being bros

Academic conclusion: Hypothesis that all Victorian writers knew each other and they were all gay is yet to be disproven

How I Top My Literature Class!

For me, studying isn’t at all something I do to memorise the information covered in my classes. I study to understand and, most importantly, practice making analyses.

I should stress now, if you get anything at all from this post get this:

be different.

and no. I don’t mean that in the cliche feel good way. If your essay or assignment is the same or similar to everyone else’s then you’re not going to do well. Would you want to read the same thing just worded differently 50 times? No? Neither does your teacher. If you can give them a break from the ordinary, they’ll thank you for it in your marks - it will set you apart. Take it from someone who tops their literature and journalism classes.

This is how you do that:

1. When I’m reading a text or learning about an event I write down questions. Not who, what, when, or where questions though - why and how are the important ones. Answer these after class and try to form your own unique thoughts and ideas in regards to them. Make sure to write a decent paragraph at least and use this as an opportunity to practice writing formally. The more questions you answer, the clearer and stronger your own arguments will become.

2. Google Scholar is your new best friend! I use this for all of my assignments and my teachers always applaud my use of supporting references and sources. Just type in the text or the event and a tonne of formal essays, books, and theses will appear! They’re often incredibly long so I usually only read the introductions and conclusions of a few. AND they use lots of references themselves, so reading introduction will often give you up to ten other people to reference!

It will also give you a range of differing perceptions and analyses of the text or event which you can use to expand your initial perceptions and analyses! Or, they may bring completely new concepts to your intention!

3. This is the fun part, I promise!! Now that you’ve got a tonne of background knowledge you’re good to go! If you know what type of assignment you have I highly recommend polishing what you’ve learnt through that format. 

If you have to write an essay, then sum up the idea you want to follow, and explore it through an essay like piece of writing  - this will, unless you change your mind on what you want to do it on, become a draft for your assignment! 

Bring together all of the information, references, and thoughts you have. Initially you’ll be chopping and changing a lot as your ideas evolve into more specific ones but you’ll quickly find your flow. Once you do, it will be incredibly relieving because not only do you understand the text; you know exactly what you want to say about it.

And that, is incredibly important - it will show maturity and intelligence because your work won’t be scattered or off-topic at all - it will be what you want it to be.

I hope this was helpful!! This way of working opens up a whole bunch of pathways to take for each assignment so it kind of forces it to be interesting - for me at least! ((:

I’ll be making a similar post for maths soon so stay tuned!!

The wicked flat.

302-bis, Sadovaya street, Moscow. This is the very place where the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov worked on his disputable novel “Master and Margarita”. I invite you to walk around this strange flat where the writer lived , the place which he made alive in his novel. I’ve read this book about 15 times in different ages - in youth, being a student, and being a man. Every time this book shows me different flavors and angles. It’s fun to see how my perception changes through these times. This book is my old friend and companion.

“- What would your Good do if there was no Evil? And how the Earth would look like if there were no shadows on it? ”


anonymous asked:

I suggest you read The Templars and the Assassins: Militia of Heaven by James Wasserman. Very interesting read. A lot of what we know about the historical Assassins is slandar by their enemies. Also the characters of Assassin's Creed are just as interesting as their historical counterparts. How Ubisoft took the legends of both orders and expanded them is amazing and a stroke of sheer brilliance.

When you’re conducting research: One of the first steps is to vet the author. Who are they? What’s their background? Once you understand that, you can make an intelligent assessment of what you’re reading.

For example, Wasserman is not a trained historian. In fact, as far as I can tell he doesn’t hold any formal degree. His area of expertise is mysticism and the occult. His own bio describes him as, “an admirer of the teachings of Aleister Crowley.” So, if you were researching modern American mysticism, he might be a decent point or reference. Detailed historical analysis? Not so much.

Another thing to consider, when writing non-fiction is that bold claims require strong evidence. In very general terms, claims don’t get much bolder than, “everything you know about this thing is wrong.”

Wasserman… doesn’t really do that. He collected a lot of interesting tidbits of trivia, though given the errors I found from skimming through the first few chapters, I wouldn’t trust any of it without first verifying in more credible sources.

Wasserman also appears to lack the ability to evaluate the quality of his evidence. This is a very important skill in academic literature, particularly when evaluating historical events. Not everything said or written is true, and as an academic, it falls on the author to evaluate the available evidence. This often involves looking at the larger context of contemporary events, the agendas of people involved, and the amount of surviving primary sources.

For example, confessions obtained under torture usually aren’t viewed as particularly credible. As we’ve said before, turns out when you apply enough force to someone, they’ll tell you whatever they think you want to hear, rather than actually coughing up the truth. Torture is a crude tool used to confirm your version of reality, and is not a functional investigative tool. And then Wasserman takes these confessions at face value, and tries to find some way to square them away with reality.

Yes, I am frustrated by Wasserman. He takes a fascinating part of history and injects it with confirmation bias so severe it would make a YouTube commenter blush. As a writer, there’s a real reason you should study history. Looking at why people, real people, took the actions they did can really help you understand how individuals think, and the options your characters have.

What Wasserman does very well is demonstrate how you can take real people and events, and distort them to fit your setting. (To be fair, it’s not an intentional demonstration.) This can be useful when you’re working off some “secret history of the world,” story, or when you’re writing an alt-history setting. If you want to write a story where the Assassins were secret defenders of an alien civilization that secretly founded western civilization, then Wasserman and Erich von Däniken are probably authors you should investigate closely. Also Assassin’s Creed, for the Dan Brown on mescaline vibe, and because that  is the plot for Assassin’s Creed. (Though, von Däniken is pretty good for that flavor of weirdness in general.)

But, hey, at least Wasserman managed to secure an endorsement from a Golden Dawn magus for the back cover. So, you know, he’s got that going for him.


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Cristina Trivulzio di Belgiojoso (1808-1871) was an Italian noblewoman who played a prominent part in Italy’s struggle for independence. She is also notable as a writer and journalist, having published many works about the lack of education for women.

She was considered the richest heiress in Italy at age 16. After separating from her husband she started a salon in Paris which became a popular meeting place for Italian and French revolutionaries. During her lifetime she had to flee multiple times from oppressive regimes because or her principles.

Fun Fact 78

In 1861, when the various states of the Italian Peninsula were unified into a single Italian Kingdom, only 2.5% of the population actually spoke the Italian language. It was chosen to be the national language because it had the strongest literary tradition and was spoken by the nobility and clerks across the region. 

Thursday, July 27, 12:30-1:30 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Radical and Rare: Building a Collection of the Left with Brad Duncan