An Anti-Hero of One’s Own
May 26, 2017
What is an anti-hero?
Many assume the anti-hero is the villain, the antagonist. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. Several famous authors have brilliantly portrayed an anti-hero as their main protagonist: a person who is indisputably flawed, selfish, and possibly even resorts to horrific acts to fight a personal vendetta. Depicting an anti-hero often goes with a similar storyline. Tim Adams, in his TED-ed talk, “An Anti-Hero of One’s Own,” delves into the way writers can use the anti-hero to tell a particular story.
In his talk, Adams explains: “The anti-hero initially conforms, accepting the established views: a typical, unquestioning member of society. The anti-hero struggles to conform, all the while, starting to object, perhaps finding other outsiders which whom to voice his questions, and naively, unwisely, sharing those questions with an authority figure. The anti-hero openly challenges society, and tries to fight against the lies and tactics used to oppress the populus.”
However, unlike the stories we’ve come to known of our beloved heroes, the anti-hero may or may not succeed in his/her quest. She may be slain, or brainwashed once again to remain a mindless drone, complacently embedded in the society she once fought so hard to correct. Or, she may fail due to her own ineptitude to slay personal monsters, such as jealousy, fear of mortality, or self-doubt. Authors can use anti-heros to send a message about something they view is broken in society.
Does Grammar Matter?
May 24, 2017
“You mean, MAY I go to the bathroom.”
“Arrrgh, you know what I meant,” you cry, fingers curling half-moons into clenched fists. “Why does it matter?”
Today, we’d like to explore just that: does grammar matter? The intriguing TED-ed talk by Andreea S. Calude entitled “Does Grammar Matter” delves into the question every young student has asked at one point or another.
Grammar is described as “a set of patterns for how words are put together to form phrases or clauses, whether spoken or in writing.”
So if we’re asking if grammar matters, we’re essentially asking if it’s important for everyone to use the same patterns and rules. There are two camps to fall into here: Descriptivism and Prescriptivism. Prescriptivists think language should follow a consistent set of rules, while Descriptivists “see variation and adaptation as a natural and necessary part of language.”
Let’s give this some context. For a large part of our history, language was primarily spoken. That’s why we have things like old wives tales and folk songs with a thousand different variations-- they were spread by mouth over generations. However, as the world became more interconnected, it became important to be able to share written information with others in a format everyone would be able to understand, regardless of the dialect or spoken customs of their region. They needed to “ensure that people in other parts of a realm could understand one another.”
Thus came the notion of “proper” language, which was essentially the language spoken by the people in power at the time.
The Power of a Great Introduction
May 21, 2017
“All this happened. More or less.”
Vonnegut grabs you from the very first glance of Slaughterhouse Five. The lines are simple, the prose inelegant, and yet, you know you’re about to hear a spectacular tale so unbelievable, the author has to start by insisting it did, indeed, happen.
Caroline Mohr’s beautifully animated TED-ed talk entitled “The Power of a Great Introduction” takes us through the nuances of how to hook your reader from the very first paragraph.
There are four main parts of any essay:
Part One: Introduction
Part Two: Thesis
Part Three: Analysis
Part Four: Conclusion
It would seem obvious that if the first part of the essay is the introduction, that’s the place to start, right? Mohr says differently: “Here’s a tip for writing a great introduction: write it last, and write your thesis first.”