An Invitation to Join the ULS: The Underground Library Society

Standard

narrative-794978_960_720

(https://pixabay.com/)

As some of you know, the students in my English 2 class at Lehigh University became members of a group I created for my class on book banning, the U.L.S. or the Underground Library Society.

It is based on Ray Bradbury’s extraordinary novel Fahrenheit 451 in which the owning and reading of books is a criminal act. A group of seeming nomads attempt to save books by “becoming” them. They memorize books in the hope that one day books will again be able to be printed.

My students had to choose a book they would become, blog about it, and create a poster featuring the logo of the group: a book with the letters ULS on it. Additionally, they put the title of the book and a statement about it on the poster. This was one of the most successful class activities that I have had the pleasure of assigning and witnessing in my time as a teacher.

I spoke with the class and asked if they would like to open membership in the ULS to everyone, and they enthusiastically said yes. I am very proud of this wonderful group of students.

My invitation is this–would you like to become a member of the ULS? All that is necessary is to chose a book you would memorize if you had to in order to save it, to design a small poster about the book, and to put it up somewhere. For those of you who chose to join, please either do a post about your book and poster or reply here.

Again, I am very proud of my students!

unity-1767679_960_720

(https://pixabay.com/)

Please join us!

My recent book reading: Gallows Hill:The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 2 by Charles F. French

Standard

IMG_0739

(pic by Heather Simoneau)

I had a wonderful time at my recent book reading of Gallows Hill: The Investigative Paranormal Society, Book 1 at Scheler Humanities Forum in Linderman Library at Lehigh University: Bethelehem, PA.

This was a relaxed affair, with students and colleagues in attendance. I spoke about both books in this series, including Maledicus: The Paranormal Society, Book 1.  After a brief introduction, I read several excerpts and then answered some questions.

I always enjoy this kind of event, and as you can see from the photograph, it was informal and relaxing. And the room in this remarkable library is wonderful, filled with beautiful, old bookshelves and some of the library’s collections of rare texts.

To all who attended, thank you!

gallowshillposter-2emfuw8-232x300

And thank you to Heather Simoneau for arranging this event and creating this lovely poster!

GallowsHillFinalCoverEbook

Gallows Hill can be found here in ebook.

Gallows Hill in paperback can be found here.

An interview about Gallows Hill can be found here.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Cowardice, Hypocrisy, and Corruption

Standard

Those who follow my blog know that I try to keep politics out of it, but I can not sit by and ignore the utter insanity of the events that keep happening–of the never ending mass shootings in our country. Then politicians, the President and many in Congress, come out and offer their prayers and thoughts, while they take blood money from the NRA and the gun manufacturers.

How many innocent people, how many children, both elementary and high school children will have to die and be wounded before action is taken to correct the situation?

When will Americans say, in a united voice, that this will happen no more, that we will hold politicians who do not enact reasonable gun legislation responsible for their increasing cowardice, hypocrisy, and corruption? I have never been a one policy voter, but now I will never vote for a politician who does not support gun legislation, and I hope the majority of Americans say the same thing. Only then, can real action be taken, and the situation can be changed.

I am not arguing that Americans should not be able to have certain guns for self-protection or hunting, but no citizen should be allowed to have an automatic or semi-automatic weapon.  They exist only to kill as many people as possible in a short a time as possible.

And for those who would scream out “The Second Amendment,” I suggest you read it, parse it, analyze it, and understand its intention. We have a military now, and a militia is no longer needed.

As a nation, we need to grow up and act as responsible adults. We need the United States of America needs to be a civilized nation where children and teachers are safe in school, where people can gather to enjoy an evening out, and where attending a concert is not an act of bravery in the face of danger.

We need responsible gun legislation now.

How many will join me in voting against any politician who will not support such laws?

My Students’ Blogs

Standard

narrative-794978_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

During this semester, Spring 2018, my students in English 002 at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA will be creating blogs about banned books.

I will post the urls for their sites as they are created. Please feel free to drop by and say hello to them.

32570160

Please follow the following links to find my novel:

ebook

Print book

Thank you!

The book trailer:

Maledicus:Investigative Paranormal Society Book I

My radio interview:

interview

Let Us Celebrate Thomas Paine Day!

Standard

ThomasPaine_2

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

January 29 is Thomas Paine Day, which is a time to remember one of the most important, but often forgotten, writers of the American Revolution. His pamphlet Common Sense was one of the main reasons that the majority of colonists came to support the revolution against England and for independence.

He was born and raised in Britain, and he became embroiled in legal problems for advocating the abolition of royalty. Afterwards, he would support the French Revolution, and he also ran into problems there, only to be imprisoned. He was later released because of influence by the American government.

Commonsense

(ahttps://en.wikisource.org)

He was a revolutionary thinker and a representative of the Romantic movement, in which individual rights and revolution in all aspects of life and society were encouraged.

Paine went on to write several other important works, including Rights Of Man and The Age of Reason. If you have not read these works, I recommend all of them!

Like many of the other intellectuals of this time, Paine was a Deist and let his ideas be known. As a result of his forthcoming, he suffered being ostracized by many of those whom he  had helped.

He should be remembered, however, for his contributions to the United States of America, to human rights, and to literature.

thomas paine-881249__340

(https://pixabay.com)

Quotations From Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Standard

MND

(https://pixabay.com)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare is one of my favorite plays, and I have had a life long connection with this work. I have read it, seen numerous productions, acted in it, directed it, studied it in college and graduate school, written about it, delivered a conference paper on it, and taught the play in college at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. So, you can see that I have had quite a relationship with this wonderful play.

As a simple tribute to Shakespeare and this play, I offer a few quotations from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“Captain of our fairy band,

 Helena is here at hand,

 And the youth, mistook by me,

 Pleading for a lover’s fee.

 Shall we their fond pageant see?

 Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

                                             (Act 3. Scene 2. Lines 110-115)

 

“I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was.”

                                             (Act 4. Scene 2. Lines 203-204)

 

“If we shadows have offended,

 Think but this, and all is mended,

 That you have but slumbered here

 While this visions did appear.

 And this weak and idle theme,

 No more yielding but a dream,

 Gentles, do not reprehend.

 If you pardon, we will mend.

 And, as I am an honest Puck,

 If we have unearned luck

 Now to scrape the serpent’s tongue,

 We will make amends ere long;

 Else the Puck a liar call.

 So, good night unto you all.

 Give me your hands, if we be friends,

 And Robin shall restore amends.” (Act 5. Scene 1. Lines 418-433)

shakespeare-67698_960_720 (1)

(https://pixabay.com)

Quotations on Character

Standard

Maya_Angelou_visits_YCP!_2413_-_crop

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

                                                                     Maya Angelou

 

M0015415 Sophocles, from the bust in the Lateran, Rome.

(https://commons.wikimedia.org)

“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

                                                                          Sophocles

bruce-lee-2167350_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

“Knowledge will give you power, but character respect.”

                                                                          Bruce Lee

Beautiful Writing: Part 7, Frank Delaney

Standard

Frank_Delaney_at_book_signing

(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Frank Delaney was a brilliant writer, historian, and journalist who was born and lived in Ireland. As a novelist, he wrote, among other books, Ireland A Novel, Shannon, Tipperary, and The Last Storyteller. Delaney’s work is insightful, lyrical, and beautiful. I have used Ireland A Novel in my Irish Literature class at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and the adult students loved it. In this novel, Delaney weaves a double narration of the history of Ireland as told by the last seanchai–the Gaelic word for storyteller– with the family history of Ronan O’Mara, a boy of nine when the book begins.

For those interested in Irish history and culture and for those who love a magnificent family drama,  I give this extraordinary novel the highest recommendation!

I offer a few quotations from the novel:

“No, I’ve never separated history from myth,” said the great voice. “I don’t think you can in Ireland.” (151)

“Here in Ireland, we’ve received most of our inner riches from Mother Nature. In olden days, the monks in the abbeys made art from natural matters. They were inspired by the sights they saw every day–a rabbit leaving its burrow; a fox running across a hillside with its red bush of a tail streaming out behind it; a horse standing in a field, its back to the rain; a hawk making its point far up  in the sky. And even their painting materials also came from the nonhuman world–bird’s feathers and colors from the earth.

So: all our expression, all our means of saying what’s in our souls, came first from the universe that we see every day around us, out under the air.” (264)

“I cannot satisfactorily explain this widespread individualism, but when I try to grasp it, or discuss it with people who have been listening to my stories, I often feel I come close to a greater understanding of the whole island; this forty thousand square miles of Atlantic land has a vivid fame the world over. What caused it? Do we talk so long and so loud that everyone hears us? Or did it come about because we put the first dent in the might British Empire?

Perhaps our writers did it. I would like to think that they did, because they came from my tradition–poetic, journeyman storytellers who may have twisted and fractured the forms of language along the way but who have always tried to get the flavor across.

Liken it to a stew, a tapestry–anything that draws a final impression from mixed and visible ingredients. The individual counties when melded give me the whole island. We are illogical–the man from Carlow taught me that. And how violent we are; to kill a British soldier matters not a blink to men I have met, no thought of how his eyes closed, where his blood flowed, if he tried to breathe at the last minute and found he couldn’t and panicked.

. . . We are seers too–or so we say. Islands appearing in the oceans of the coast surprise no one; strange birds in farmyards portend death; ghosts stride hillsides.  what I mean is–we are infinitely permissive of possibility ; we rule out nothing.” (397-398)

Please do yourselves a favor, and give yourselves a gift, and read this book!

 

I Am Proud Of My Students!

Standard

IMG_2468[1]-1

I feel blessed that I am able to follow two of my passions in my life–teaching and writing. I spend a great deal of time in this blog speaking about my writing, but now I want to talk about one of the classes I teach at college.

I love all of my classes, but something extraordinary happened this semester in one of my classes at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. This was part of a cluster–two courses taught by two different professors about a central issue or question. This cluster’s name is America on The Cusp of Crisis: The Literature and History of A Nation in Turmoil, and it is about the history and writing of the Civil War of the United States of America.

I was also fortunate to be able to work with Dr. William Feeney, who taught the history course. Dr. Feeney is one of the most talented teachers I have ever had the honor of knowing, and I have known many in my now 25 or so years of teaching English at college. Dr. Feeney is a scholar on the Civil War and is deeply invested in teaching and finding new and challenging ways for his students to learn. Any student who has him as a professor is fortunate.

The students were given a project, working in small groups, to conceptualize, design, and print a model of a Civil War monument. This was not working on an existing monument, but creating a new one about an aspect of the Civil War they found important and interesting. The students would use the college’s 3-D printer to make the model. They also had to write a dedication speech and a reflective essay on their projects. The students were aided in the design and printing by Instructional Technologist Jordan Noyes.

The 4 groups created monuments to Civil War horses, Clara Barton, The Sanitary Commission, and the Battle of Shiloh.  All of the models of the monuments demonstrated an abundance of work, planning, and execution. I was astounded by their efforts.

The students presented the models, including a ribbon cutting and a reading of their dedication speech. They then spoke about the process of their work. Their presentation was covered by the student newspaper The Muhlenberg Weekly. This was an exercise that included analysis, knowledge, creativity, design, and production, and I believe this work brought out the best in these students.

The models are now on display on the main floor of the Trexler Library of Muhlenberg College.

I am honored to have worked on this cluster with Dr. Feeney and with Jordan Noyes. I am deeply proud of the work of my students.

IMG_2468[1]-1

What are you reading?

Standard

light-465350_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

Occasionally, I write a post in which I ask this question, and it has been some time, so I wanted to ask all of you again: what are you currently reading?

I am reading Aggravated Momentum by Didi Oviatt;

In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson;

Surrender, New York by Caleb Carr;

and rereading for classes that I teach at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

and Dracula by Bram Stoker.

book-863418_960_720

(https://pixabay.com)

I wish Happy Reading to all!