The Liberal Arts: Crucial for Education and Society

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(https://pixabay.com)

I was looking over some of my early blogposts, and I decided I wanted to revisit this piece about the Liberal Arts–the humanities–and their importance. The idea I write about in this little post is crucial for our society–the importance of the Liberal Arts in Education.

I had a piece published in the “Education Guide” of the Sunday, 2/15/15, edition of The Morning Call, the largest newspaper in the Lehigh Valley, PA. I am very proud of have the article in the paper, because I am very proud to be part of the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

The Wescoe School is the name of the adult college program for Muhlenberg College. In this school, adults are able to gain full Bachelor degrees in a variety of majors and programs as well as certificate of study if they are focused on one specific area.

I have been teaching college English courses for many years, and I have been an adjunct instructor at many colleges, but I am deeply impressed with the quality of education and the care for the adult students that are demonstrated in this program.

I was honored to have been asked to write this piece, and I hope that I delivered a clear and sound explanation of the Liberal Arts, both in terms of history and application. I am an unrepentant Humanist; I still believe in the power of education to help people and in the ability of writing and words to help bridge gaps among people. Even at my age, I remain an idealist. Especially in the Wescoe program, I see education having a positive impact on students, many of whom have never attended college, might be starting their higher education in their 40s or 50s, and many of whom have full-time jobs and families. Their ability to learn and achieve never fails to humble me and to reinforce my belief in the strength of the Liberal Arts.

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(https://pixabay.com)

Favorite Horror Movies of the 1930s: Dracula: a Reposting

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

When I first considered doing an examination of my favorite horror movies, I thought that going decade by decade would be sufficient, but I realized that some periods have far more excellent films than others.  A simple examination of 2-4 movies from the 1930s will not work, so I am going to look at one film at a time for that decade. I will begin with Dracula, a film I love, and which I have taught in college classes such as Literature and Film and Gothic and Horror.  I also hold the novel to be an excellent and very important book.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Dracula, made in 1931, and released for Valentine’s Day–a nice touch–was a huge success and established Bela Lugosi as a top box office star. This production was itself based on the very successful theatrical play Dracula by Hamilton Deane and James Balderston. Stoker’s novel did not see great success during his life, but after his death and the success of the play, it became one of the best selling novels of the 20th Century–worldwide.

Carl Laemmle Jr, capitalized on the story’s growing popularity and produced the movie.  Tod Browning, who had directed Lon Chaney Sr. in several movies, directed this piece. This film is highly atmospheric with a Gothic set and influenced by German Expressionism. Lugosi was brilliant with his authentic Hungarian accent and menacing presence. His performance and voice set the standard for the image of Dracula and vampires for decades to come. Dracula was a sensation and terrified people; today’s audience would probably find it slow and not at all frightening, but that reflects our jaded views that have been glutted with gore as the staple ingredient of contemporary horror.  This film depended on story telling, atmosphere, and acting. The film’s success created an era of classic horror films through the 1930s and part of the 1940s with Universal studios leading the way.

Additionally, Dracula is generally accepted by most film critics as one of the best horror films made.  I certainly consider it to be one of the best and most important.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

It is an interesting and little known detail of film history that in addition to the English language version, Universal also made a Spanish language film at the same time.  The  two films shared the same sets, and the same basic scripts, but with different actors and a different director: George Melford directed, and Carlos Villarías stared as Dracula.  While not as well known, an argument can be made that this is a better film than the more established English language version.  If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I recommend that you do.

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Maledicus: The Investigative Paranormal Society Book I by Charles F. French is available for purchase on Amazon either as an ebook or a print book!

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

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Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

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Freestyle Writing Challenge

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I was surprised and honored to have been nominated to perform a Freestyle Writing Challenge by Kayla Johnson https://thefirsttwentyrows.wordpress.com .  Ms. Johnson is a writer whose blog I follow and whom I respect enormously.

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I found this idea of doing a freestyle writing very engaging, because I use  a similar exercise with my students in my First Year Writing classes in college.  So, it is only fair that I, also, do this exercise.

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Here are the rules that I should follow (and also for those who accept my challenge):

1. Open a blank Document

2. Set a stop watch or mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes

3. Your topic is at the foot of this post – DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!

4. Once you start writing do not stop until the alarm sounds!

5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)

6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals

7. At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame

8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees and copy/paste these rules along with your nomination (at least 5 bloggers)

My topic to write about was to describe a home you’ve lived in.

My freewrite — I gave myself ten minutes:

I grew up in what seemed to me to be a very large home on the south side of town. It was a half-double (twin or duplex, depending on what you are used to hearing), but it was truly a very large and mysterious home to me, at least when I was a child.

The front of the house sat up off the street, with a set of old, concrete stairs that went straight up for about 15 steps then turned onto a landing of about 10 feet, then another 10 steps. The front of the house had a porch that ran the width of the house.

This porch was one of the best features of the house when I was a child. My friends and I, especially my cousin, played there in all kinds of weather. Many board games, battles with toy soldiers, including create handkerchief paratroopers, and other adventures were done there.

The yard was also a deeply important part of the house when I was a child. It ran the length of the house and then curved onto the back. The yard was flat for about half of the distance, then had about a 2 foot slope leading to a longer hill up to the top or the yard. In the winter, this was an extraordinary place for the kids to ride their sleds. Because there was a large hedge at the bottom of the yard, we had no danger of flying into the streets.

A retaining wall ran part of the length of the house, and it had a depression in it, creating a long runway, or at least that’s what we called it. As a kid, I believed it had to have been created for use to run our toys cars on.

Today, many people would see an old, run-down house in a depressed area of that town, but for me, it was a wondrous building.

The inside of the home was also mysterious and full of wonder. The basement, which ran the length of the house, ended with stairs that led to nowhere. I was convinced they had to be magical, although I know now an addition covered the outside entrance they had led to.

Time!!! Ten minutes just elapsed, so I have to stop.

The word count is 371.

This was a very interesting experience, and I enjoyed thinking and writing about this home.  Once again, thank you to Kayla Johnson!

Here are my nominees, and a big drum roll please!

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Purpleanais  http://arwenaragornstar.com

Kait King  https://kaitking.wordpress.com

Miss Andi https://journeyofawriterworldtraveler.wordpress.com

Marlene https://insearchofitall.wordpress.com

Russell J. Fellows http://russelljfellows.com

Tricia  https://threehandsoneheart.wordpress.com

Herminia Chow https://aspiringwriter22.wordpress.com

In My Cluttered Attic https://inmyclutteredattic.wordpress.com

Sarah Higbee https://sjhigbee.wordpress.com

Karen Pearce https://fillyourownglass.wordpress.com

Rebecca McLaughlin https://makawalli.wordpress.com/

Kat Kent 2014 https://writersback.wordpress.com/

Mae http://onetrackmuse.com

Please do not scroll down until you have decided to accept and begin the challenge!

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If you could travel to any place in the world at another historical era, where would it be?

What Book Would You Choose To Be?

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(http://mritsmith.wikispaces.com)

One of the central themes in the Young Adult novel I am writing is the issue of who controls knowledge and of book banning. I was thinking about it this morning, and I remembered an assignment I used in several classes that reflects this question. I have taught Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the most recently in a class on Banned Books.

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Montag, the fireman book burner turned book lover, finds a group of people living on the outskirts of society, who are dedicated to the preservation of books by becoming living copies of the books. They choose a book, commit it completely to memory, and then find another young person to pass this knowledge to until the time comes when the books can be once again printed and read.To have my students understand this idea personally, I assign them to choose a book they love and to memorize a small passage of 1-2 paragraphs, which they then give to the class at the end of the semester. I, too, perform this exercise.

So, as I was thinking about this today, I was wondering what books other people would choose to be, if we lived in such a terrible world. What book would you choose to become? If you can’t decide on one, then suggest a list of 1-5 books.

My choices, in no particular order, are: Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Don Quixote, by Cervantes, A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin, and The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.  Yes, I know these are huge texts!  Please offer your choices.

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Teaching Shakespeare!

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I usually write about writing in some way, but in this post, I want to talk about teaching Shakespeare. The spring semester is over, but as an adjunct professor, I teach the entire year. I am not complaining about this situation, because I love my work, just explaining the schedule.

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I have loved Shakespeare most of my life—the reading of the plays, the viewing of productions, acting in them, directing one production, writing about the plays, and teaching the plays. I studied Shakespeare as one of my areas of specialization in graduate school, so I am always excited when I have the opportunity to teach Will.  Shakespeare has been a lifelong companion.

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This college class is being held at The Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College.  Because this is an adult evening college, which also administers the summer session, all of the students in my class are adults.  They are working towards their undergraduate degrees as are the traditional age students, but they bring the added responsibility and attentiveness to the class that comes with maturity and experience.  I love teaching both traditional and non-traditional students, but both bring different needs and different expectations.

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The class has just begun, because the first summer session has already started. I have held the first class, which was an introductory lecture on Shakespeare’s theater and England at the time. Tomorrow we will begin examining the plays. We will cover some of the comedies in the first half of the session and some of the tragedies in the second half. By the end of 12 classes during the span of 6 weeks, we will read and explored 9-10 plays. The first play of the course will be one of my favorites: A Midsummer Night’s Dream.   I feel like I have a special relationship with this comedy, because I have studied it, taught it, written about it, acted in it, and directed it.  It was also the play of the first live Shakespeare production that I saw when I was in 10th grade.

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I am looking forward to teaching Shakespeare!

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