Tag Archives: women’s history

Colette on the Pitfalls of a Happy Childhood

“A happy childhood is poor preparation for human contact.”

Colette

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Big Curmudgeon. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2007.

Character Sketch

“Character Sketch (noun): A brief descriptive portrait in writing of an individual, usually with close observation of his or her distinctive traits.

‘In 1928 a private press published her character sketch of the Sapphic poetess Renee Vivien, born Pauline Tern, in London, of an English father and an American mother, a fragile neurotic figure who spent most of her short, self-destructive life in Paris, maintained in mysterious semi-Oriental elegance and living on spiced foods and alcohol in a garden apartment by chance next to Colette’s, near the Bois de Boulogne.’ Janet Flanner, Janet Flanner’s World”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

Cultural Literacy: Juan Peron

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Juan Peron. And yes, it does mention Eva (“Evita”) Peron, the Argentine dictator’s wife, subject of the West End musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim RIce. This is a half-page worksheet with a reading of three sentences and three comprehension questions.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Algonquin Wits: Edna Ferber’s Storied Riposte to Noel Coward

Miss Ferber, who was fond of wearing tailored suits, showed up at the Round Table one afternoon sporting a new suit similar to the one Noel Coward was wearing. ‘You look almost like a man,’ Coward said as he greeted her.

‘So,’ Miss Ferber replied, ‘do you.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

Cant

“Cant (noun): Language that is hypocritical or wearisomely hollow and predictable, such as stereotypical political jargon, repetitious promotional claims, or pious religious clichés, transparent, rote idiom or stock phrases; whining, singsong speech, such as that used by importuning beggars; argot of a group or lower social class. Adj. canting; v. cant.

‘But the official language of the United States is now cant. As I said at the beginning, the condition of the real language is critical.’ Jean Stafford, Saturday Review”

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

The Algonquin Wits: Dorothy Parker, Famously, on Katherine Hepburn

Mrs. Parker once said of a Katherine Hepburn performance: ‘She ran the gamut of emotions from A to B.’”

Excerpted from: Drennan, Robert E., ed. The Algonquin Wits. New York: Kensington, 1985.

The Weekly Text, 8 July 2022: A Lesson Plan on Subordinating Conjunctions (Part 1)

This week’s Text is the first of two related lessons on subordinating conjunctions; the next one will appear here next Friday.

I open this lesson with this worksheet on the homophones feat and feet. In the event that the lesson spills over into a second day, here is a second do-now worksheet, this one an Everyday Edit exercise on Bessie Coleman. If you and your students enjoy (I’ve taught students who derived great satisfaction working with these) Everyday Edit worksheets, incidentally, the good people at Education World give away a yearlong supply of them at no cost.

To execute this lesson, you’ll need this scaffolded worksheet. Finally, you might find this teacher’s copy of the worksheet useful.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin: (1942-2018) U.S. popular singer. Her family moved from Memphis to Detroit when she was 2. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was a well-known revivalist preacher; his church and home were visited by such luminaries as Aretha’s aunt Clara Ward, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, and Dinah Washington. She made her first recording at 12. At first she performed only on the gospel and ‘chitlin’ circuits, but in 1967 her powerful and fervent voice took the country by storm in a string of songs including “I Never Loved a Man,” “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Think,” and “Natural Woman.” Her later albums include Amazing Grace (1972), Sparkle (1976), Who’s Zoomin’ Who (1985), and One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism (1989). She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Bessie Smith

“Bessie Smith: (originally Elizabeth) U.S. blues and jazz singer, one of the most distinctive stylists of classic blues and the most successful black entertainer of her time. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Smith sang popular songs as well as blues on the minstrel and vaudeville stage. She began recording in 1923 and appeared in the 1929 film St. Louis Blues. Her interpretations represent the fully realized tradition of the rural folk tradition of the blues to its urbane structure and expressiveness. A bold, supremely confident artist with a powerful voice and precise diction, she became known as ‘Empress of the Blues.’ She died from injuries sustained in a car crash, having apparently been refused treatment for reasons of racial prejudice.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Rotten Reviews: Doris Grumbach on Mary McCarthy

“On television I see Mary McCarthy taking about her Vassar friend, the poet Elizabeth Bishop. I notice Mary’s instant icy smile, so often present when I interviewed her in Paris in 1966 for a book. George Grosz saw the same smile on Lenin’s face. ‘It doesn’t mean a smile,’ he said. I am fascinated by it. It represents, I think, an unsuccessful attempt to soften a harsh, bluntly stated judgement. Last summer, twenty-two years after the book I wrote about her, which she so disliked, appeared, I encountered Mary for the first time in an outdoor market in Blue Hill.

 ‘Hello Mary,’ I said. ‘Do you remember me?’

 Her smile flashed and then, like a worn-out bulb, disappeared instantly.

 ‘Unfortunately,’ she said.

 It didn’t mean a smile.”

 Doris Grumbach

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.