Category Archives: Essays/Readings

This category describes readings of any kind for either teachers or students.

4 Degrees of Attachment

“Secure * Anxious and Preoccupied * Avoidant and Dismissive * Disorganized

These human characteristics, which can already be assessed by the time a child is 18 months old, are based around four major observational themes: Proximity, Maintenance, Safe Haven, Secure Base, and Separation Distress. At their root they are but measures of the successful exchange of comfort, warmth, and pleasure between an infant and its parents that was first conceived by Sigmund Freud and greatly extended by the work of John Bowlby.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Holy Roman Empire

Holy Roman Empire: A loose confederation of German states ruled by various royal German houses who claimed the authority of ancient Rome. The butt of generations of joking students (it was neither Holy, Roman, nor an Empire), the Holy Roman Empire lasted in name for over one thousand years (800-1806). It began when Charlemagne was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III and ended when Francis II (Francis I of Austria) abdicated. While the power of the emperor and the cohesion of the empire always existed more in theory than in practice, the Holy Roman Empire did give a certain unity to the many German states.

The first German emperor was Henry the Fowler, who was crowned in 919. Since the title was not hereditary, the emperor being elected by seven electors, the crown was held at various times by nearly all the royal German houses. The uninterrupted line of Hapsburg emperors began in 1438. The power and prestige of the Austrian Hapsburgs reflected on the empire as well. Under Maximilian I and Charles V the empire had its greatest strength. After Charles relinquished the crown in 1556, there began the steady decline that ended in 1806 with the empire’s extinction.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Term of Art: Bretton Woods

Bretton Woods: Town in New Hampshire, USA, where representatives of 28 nations attended a financial conference called by Pres. Roosevelt in July 1944 to organize a system of international monetary cooperation in order to prevent financial crashes like those in the interwar period which triggered the 1930s depression. It was agreed that participants would establish a World Bank to provide credit for countries that required finance for major projects. An International Monetary Fund (IMF was also set up for the purpose of operating cash reserves available to members facing balance of payments deficits).”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Book of Answers: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

When did “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” first appear? The anti-Semitic forgery first appeared in a St. Petersburg newspaper in 1903. It purported to document the conspiracy of Judaism to take over the world. It may have been written by Czar Nicholas II’s secret police.

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Term of Art: Brains Trust

Brains Trust: Nickname given to a group of economists and businessmen in the USA who acted as advisers to Pres. Roosevelt (1882-1945) in formulating the New Deal policy. The term has since been widely used to denote bodies of experts believed to have influence on government policy. In the UK the term ‘brains trust’ was extended to include groups of experts assembled to answer questions put to them by the public, especially the BBC’s wartime panel of experts who broadcast on the wireless.”

Excerpted from: Cook, Chris. Dictionary of Historical Terms. New York: Gramercy, 1998.

Term of Art: Indirect Speech

indirect speech: The reporting of something said, thought, etc. with deictic and other units adapted to the viewpoint of the reporter. E.g. He said he would bring them might report a promise, originally expressed by the utterance ‘I will bring them in.’ But the person who made the promise is someone other than the reporter; hence, in the reporting, original I is changed to he. Also the promise was earlier than the report; hence, in addition, will is changed to would. With these adaptations, he would bring them is an example of, and is said to be ‘in,’ indirect speech.”

Excerpted from: Matthews, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

5 Components of the Soul in Ancient Egypt

“Ren * Ka * Ib * Ba * Sheut

The simplest concept is Ren, which is literally your name: it lives for as long as you are remembered, or can be read about on inscriptions, or included in prayers for the ancestors and their achievements. Ka is also easy enough to translate into modern idiom, for it is that vital essence that makes the difference between the living and the dead, between life and dead meat, between a warm body and cold clay.

Ib is literally the heart, formed from a single drop of clotted blood extracted from your mother’s heart at the hour of your conception or birth. By heart, the Egyptians meant not just the organ for pumping blood around your body, but the seat of your soul, the good directing force in your life, searching after truth, peace, and harmony.

Ba is that which makes each of us unique and different, that which makes us strive and achieve, the motivator but also the hungry elemental force that needs food and sex. In some form, your ba is destined to survive after death, often depicted or imagined as a human-headed bird, which with good fortune will go forth by day to enjoy the light, but might also end up existing only in the dark, like the bat or the ruin-haunting owl. Sheut is your shadow, and by extension the other you, as well as being used to describe a statue, a model, or a painting of a human.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Term of Art: Atmosphere

“Atmosphere: The mood and feeling, the intangible quality which appeals to extra-sensory as well as sensory perception, evoked by a work of art. For instance, the opening scene in Hamlet where the watch is tense and apprehensive, even “jumpy.” By contrast, the beginning of Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist indicates clearly that the play is going to be comic to the point of knockabout. An excellent example in the novel is Hardy’s depiction of Egdon Heath in The Return of the Native.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

Restrictive Term, Element, Clause

“Restrictive Term, Element, Clause: A phrase or clause that limits the essential meaning of the sentence element it modifies or identifies. Professional athletes who perform exceptionally should earn stratospheric salaries. Since there are no commas before and after the italicized clause, the italicized clause is restrictive and suggests that only those athletes that perform exceptionally are entitled to such salaries. If commas were added before who and after exceptionally, the clause would be nonrestrictive and would suggest that all professional athletes should receive stratospheric salaries.”

Excerpted from: Strunk, William Jr., and E.B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. New York: Longman, 2000.

Term of Art: Ability

“Ability: Developed skill, competence, or power to do something, especially (in psychology) existing capacity to perform some function, whether physical, mental, or a combination of the two, without further education or training, contrasted with capacity, which is latent ability.”

Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.