Subversive Literature.

Hello everyone and welcome back to #theorythursday. I cannot believe how quickly the time is passing by. Next week is the last week of October and then we are moving onwards and upwards into a new month. Last week I talked about the difference between horror and terror, and you should check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am talking about subversive literature. 

 If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will already know that I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has left me a comment either on Instagram, or here on the website, and to those of you who sent me a kind message, thank you so much. I really appreciate the support and engagement that I have received during the month of October. I have really embraced the Halloween spirit, and I have been talking a lot about horrors, which I know not everyone enjoys. I will be taking a break from horror as we move into November, but I’ve enjoyed challenging myself to watch movies that I usually wouldn’t as horror is definitely not my favourite genre, but I have found that there are aspects of it that I do enjoy. 

With that being said, let’s dive into the second last #theorythursday in October. 

What is subversive literature? 

Subversive literature is literature in which the plot challenges things we consider normal. 

A subversive narrator will take things that the reader should already be familiar with, and challenge our understanding of that thing. Subversive narratives are common in gothic literature, which is why I decided that I would talk about subversive literature in October because it fits into the horror/gothic themes that I have been exploring this month. 

An example of subversive literature can be found in a text such as Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto or in Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Both of these novels subvert the idea of home being a safe place. Usually one’s home is their safe place, their sanctuary, their escape from the world, but in these novels, and in many other gothic novels, the home has become the place where danger lurks. Home is the place where the characters must escape from. Sanctuary is found outside of the home rather than in the home, and this development warps the reader’s idea of safety. When we read these novels, we no longer view the home as a safe space, because the idea of being safe at home has been twisted by a subversive narrative. 

I think that Neil Gaiman’s novella Coraline is another example of a subversive piece of literature. The character Coraline feels ignored by her parents who have to work around the clock, and so when she first encounters her “other mother” and “other father” in the parallel universe that she discovers, at first everything seems wonderful, so much so that she starts to prefer her “other mother”, but she soon learns that all is not as it seems and her idea of everything being perfect in the parallel universe is challenged and subverted when she learns that the perfect parallel universe is actually a place of nightmares. 

Why is it important to know about subversive literature? 

As I’ve said above, I felt that it was a good idea to talk about subversive literature alongside the gothic and horror that I have been discussing in October, because subversive narratives are often found in horror movies and gothic novels. I also think that it is important to understand subversive literature, because subversive literature can be extremely powerful. Subversive literature is sometimes radical, or political. Subversive narratives are often employed when an author wants to make a statement, but this isn’t always the case. I think there is something very powerful about a book having the power to take something that we think we understand and challenge it and twist it so much so that we have to re-examine our understanding of that thing. That is powerful. That is thought provoking. That is how conversations start. That is how critical thinking begins, when we are challenged, and so that is why I think that subversive literature is so important, because it has the potential to be incredibly moving and powerful. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you all enjoyed it. Thank you all again for the lovely support I’ve received this past month. It is much appreciated, and I am so excited for the months to come. 

Happy Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Horror vs Terror.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another #theorythursday.

Last week I talked about how to recognise elements of gothic literature, so you should check that out if you have not already.

Today I am going to be talking about the difference between horror and terror, because despite sounding similar, they are not the same.

Let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

I spent some time studying gothic literature because it is a genre that I find really interesting, and the knowledge that I am sharing today comes from Ann Radcliffe, a very prolific gothic author, in fact she has been referred to as the pioneer of gothic fiction.

Ann Radcliffe outlined what she believed to be the difference between horror and terror, and it is from my studies of her and gothic literature that I am working off of.

What is horror?

Radcliffe describes horror as being a fear of something concrete. Horror is an immediate reaction that happens in the moment. So, we may feel horror when we see a monster or a jump scare. It is shocking, but it can be fleeting.

What is terror?

Radcliffe describes terror as a much more complex feeling. Terror is a feeling of anxiety and dread, that builds and builds before something happens. We may feel feel terror in the moments before something scary happens. We may feel terror when we hear ominous sounds, or creepy noises, or if we see flashes of dark shadows in the distance. We feel that something is wrong, but we do not know what, and we are scared to find out. That is terror.

Why is it important to know the difference between horror and terror?

I thought that breaking down the difference between horror and terror would be an interesting Theory Thursday topic, seeing as it is #spookyseason. I have been discussing a lot of horror movies this month, and this month’s #bookofthemonth is a gothic novel. I felt that since I am using terms such as ‘gothic’, and ‘horror’, and ‘terror’, etc., that it would be a good idea to break down what those terms mean.

I also think that knowing why horror and terror are different is a really interesting concept to think about, and I feel that after studying Radcliffe, I have a deeper appreciation for gothic literature.

I also think that it makes sense to understand that horror and terror are different because when you think about it, the feeling of shock when something jumps out at you is very different to the feeling of foreboding you feel when you hear an odd noise, or you feel like something is lurking in the shadows. I think that after a jump scare, we recover quicker, but if we feel that something is wrong, but we don’t know what, that feeling of dread is a lot harder to shake off. I think it is important to be able to recognise the difference between those feelings, especially when one is analysing horror movies and/or gothic novels.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. Happy Friday Eve everyone.

Kate xo.

Discussing Gothic Novels.

Defining The Gothic Novel. 

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I discussed the first-person perspective, you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

 Today’s #theorythursday is all about the gothic novel. So let’s dive in.

What makes a novel a gothic novel? 

The gothic novel is a genre of literature that most often presents themes of death, decay, mystery, and romance. 

There are elements found in gothic novels that are almost considered signatures of the genre. These elements are things such as the setting being very gloomy. In gothic novels it is very common that the weather is terrible. Gothic novels are often set in big, intimidating, hulking places such as sprawling manors in the middle of nowhere, abbeys, castles, etc. These places are often implied to be haunted or associated with some kind of conspiracy or mystery. Gothic novels often present a plot that involves uncovering the truth or solving a long-time mystery. 

Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (published in 1764) is often named the first gothic novel. The novel is set in a castle, mysterious deaths occur, the main protagonist must figure out a prophecy, and unveil the truth as within the castle there has been a lot of lies, mistrust, and mistaken identifies, so you can see from this novel, certain elements stand out – the castle, the deaths, the search for the truth – these are the elements that I have pointed out above as being considered to be gothic elements. 

While gothic novels can contain elements of horror, I would argue that gothic novels and horror novels are different. In my opinion, the intent behind a gothic novel is very different to the intent behind a horror novel. 

A prominent idea that can be found in gothic novels is this idea of playing with the reader’s perception of safety. One might assume that one’s home is a safe place. Many narratives present the idea that home is where the character will find sanctuary, and all will be well once the character returns home, however in gothic novels, this idea is often inverted and home becomes a dangerous place. Home becomes somewhere to escape from. Home becomes the place where mystery, and danger, and death lurks. 

If I were to give my opinion on the difference between horror and a gothic novel, I would say that the difference becomes clear when you read something like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Castle of Otranto and then compare it to a novel written by Stephen King. 

The difference I believe becomes clear when you think about what sort of feelings these different texts evoke. Something like The Castle of Otranto in my opinion, will evoke feelings of dread, some passages may make the reader tense, or curious. The novel may make you very intrigued. You want to solve the mystery, you want to find the truth whereas I believe that King’s novels evoke feelings of fear. They are often scary, and disturbing, and the stuff of nightmares, and for many people that is what makes them appealing. There is a thrill that comes from being scared which is why people go to see horror movies, but being scared and feeling tense are two very different feelings, and the intent to intrigue someone, or unsettle someone, or make someone curious, is very different to the intent to scare someone – so I think this is one of the key differences between a gothic novel and a horror novel. 

I think that the gothic novel is one of the more complicated areas of literature to explain because the gothic does overlap so much with horror, and elements of horror can be found in gothic novels however they are not one and the same. 

There will usually be elements of horror found in a gothic text, however there are some horrors that are in no way gothic. They are simply horror, and I will speak about some of these texts later on in the month of October. 

This week’s #moviemonday was about a gothic horror, however I have a movie lined up for later on in the month as we get closer to Halloween that is not gothic at all in my opinion. So while this may be a slightly more confusing topic, I think that with practice, and with more reading, and more movie watching, it does become easier to identify what is a gothic text and what isn’t. 

Why is it important to understand what a gothic novel is? 

I felt it was important to explain what a gothic novel is because this month’s #bookofthemonth is a gothic novel, and I mentioned on Monday that I think Ichabod Crane is a very gothic character, and without context, that’s just a descriptive word. If I didn’t explain, I’d just be calling things gothic and readers may not have any idea what that means or some people may hear the word gothic and automatically assume horror, and as I said, while they are similar, they are not the exact same thing. 

I think that the gothic novel is a very interesting genre of literature. I feel that people who maybe don’t enjoy horror because maybe they’re squeamish or maybe they don’t enjoy being afraid, may enjoy a gothic because a gothic doesn’t necessarily scare you. It can, but it can also intrigue you. A gothic novel may appeal to people who enjoy mysteries, who enjoy eerie stories rather than bloody ones. I would argue that a gothic novel can present more layered and nuanced themes than a horror can, however that is just my opinion. People may disagree with that, and that is fine. 

I think it could be said that a gothic novel may have more impact because it may prompt questions and thoughts whereas a horror may simply scare you in the moment and give you an adrenaline rush etc, but you may not think about it again later. 

I think it is important to be aware of the gothic novel, just like I think it is important to be aware of all genres because a broader range of knowledge about genres can widen our reading, and this can broaden and enhance our enjoyment of literature. 

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If there are any questions or comments, feel free to drop them below. 

Happy Friday Eve!

Kate xo. 

Narrative: Chapter 2.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I began to discuss the different types of narration that we can come across in literature. I focused on the third-person perspective last week, you should go and check that out if you haven’t already. Today I am concentrating on the first-person narrative so let’s dive into #theorythursday. 

How do I recognise the first-person narrator in a story? 

It is very easy to recognise when a story is being told in the first-person, because the narrator is either the protagonist telling their own story, or another character who is telling the protagonist’s story from their point of view. 

I mentioned on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), that today is a double post day because my #bookofthemonth discussion all about F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby will also be published today seeing as it is the last day of September. It just so happens that The Great Gatsby is a brilliant example of a story that is told from the first-person perspective. The character Nick Carraway is the narrator of Fitzgerald’s novel and he tells us the story of Jay Gatsby, the novel’s protagonist, and since the story is told from Nick’s point of view, we are seeing Jay through his eyes. The novel is an example of a first-person perspective in which another character telling the protagonist’s story – Nick tells Jay’s story. If Jay was telling his own story, he would also be a first-person narrator. 

When a narrator is speaking in the first-person, they will use words such as “I”, and “we”, as they are telling readers about events that they experienced themselves, or witnessed themselves. 

I mentioned last week that I tend to prefer stories are told in the third-person, and this is because I feel that the third-person perspective gives readers a broader story because the narrator is outside of the events looking in, and so the narrator is therefore more objective but a first-person narrator is speaking from their own experience, so their feelings will come into play, which means that the story we are told may be biased – this is where the concept of an “unreliable narrator” comes into play, and we must always be open to questioning how the story may be different if it was told by someone else. 

If we think about The Great Gatsby for a moment, it is a good example of a novel that could be argued to have an unreliable narrator. I’ve already said that readers experience Jay Gatsby through the eyes of Nick Carraway and while at times he despises Gatsby, there are also times that he admires him. Nick has sympathy for Gatsby and so readers most likely will too, however Nick does not have sympathy for Daisy or Tom, and he judges them harshly for their actions despite claiming he’s not judgemental, and despite overlooking Gatsby’s similar behaviour which is hypocritical – but it’s easier to overlook behaviour from someone you sympathise with than someone you do not. 

I would also argue that it is crucial that The Great Gatsby is told from Nick’s perspective. I don’t think this novel would work if it wasn’t. Nick is the mediator between the readers and Gatsby, and because Nick sees Gatsby as a layered and complex man, who he can both admire and despise, readers do too. I feel that it could be argued that Gatsby would not be as dynamic or sympathetic of a character if he was the narrator because if he was the one talking of his misdeeds and then of his better qualities, he could risk coming across to readers as an obnoxious man who is boastful and simply trying to justify his actions, but having Nick speak of Gatsby’s admirable qualities allows Gatsby to become layered, to become dynamic, and somewhat redeemable, having Nick tell his story means that he gets to be a mysterious entity rather than an absurdly rich man talking about himself. Nick telling Gatsby’s story of doomed romance makes him a tragically romantic character, but if Gatsby was speaking, would he simply be a rich man who is pining and whining? Maybe. 

Why is it important to know about the first-person narrator? 

Well, as always I think it’s important to understand how different types of narration can impact a story. Narration is a key aspect of fiction, and types of narration are key aspects of literary theory and understanding literary theory can only deepen one’s understanding and enjoyment of a text. I say this every week, and I will continue to do so because it is true.

If we think about the above example I gave, The Great Gatsby is a text that highlights how much of an impact the type of narration used can have because as I stated above, I think it can be argued that having Nick Carraway narrate that text is crucial to the text working, I don’t think it would be as dynamic, layered, and impactful of a text if it was wasn’t told from Nick’s first-person perspective, so even though I do generally prefer stories that are told in the third-person, I can recognise texts in which a first-person perspective would be the better choice, and in my opinion, The Great Gatsby is one of those texts – if you want to hear what else I have to say about this novel then check of September’s Book Of The Month discussion. 

I hadn’t planned it in advance that this week’s Theory Thursday would align so perfectly with September’s Book Of The Month selection. It was a coincidence that both posts would be published today as this Thursday just happened to be the last day of September, and I like to post my #bookofthemonth discussions on the last day of every month. I also hadn’t planned for this week’s aspect of literary theory to be such a huge factor of the text I am discussing. It was another coincidence that last week I decided I would begin to explain the different types of narration and first-person narration just happened to be prominent in my Book Of The Month selected novel. 

This has been Theory Thursday. This has been a breakdown of the first-person perspective. As always if anyone has any comments or questions, I’d love it if you’d drop them below. 

Here’s to Friday Eve. 

Kate xo. 

Narrative.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday. Last week I broke down why a story’s setting is important. You should check that out if you haven’t already. I explained why a story’s setting is so fundamental. I believe that narration is another fundamental aspect of storytelling as how a story is told majorly impacts how readers respond to it. 

There are different types of narration and I am going to dedicate different Theory Thursdays to breaking down each of the different types of narrative, similar to how I’ve been breaking down poetic devices over a number of weeks. 

Today’s Theory Thursday is all about the third-person narrative, so let’s dive into #theorythursday. 

What is a third-person narrative? 

When a story is being narrated in the third-person, it is being told by a narrator who is outside of the story and not part of it. A third-person narrative tells the story from the perspective of someone who watched the events take place, and that person is now relaying that information to the reader. 

A third-person narrative will read a little something like this, “Kate sat down at her desk and prepped herself for a day of study. She plugged her laptop into charge and scribbled down notes in her pink notebook. The coffee cup on her desk was refilled many times throughout the day, and after a few long hours, she finally felt confident about her exam.” 

Please do not judge my creative abilities based on that example. The above paragraph is not a reflection of how I would go about writing a book – if I ever chose to do so. The above paragraph is simply a very straightforward example of how a third-person narrative works. 

The third-person narrator will use pronouns such as “he, her, his, theirs, etc.” This is because the third-person narrator is telling a story about others rather than about themselves – that would be first-person narration, which I will discuss on another Theory Thursday. 

Why is it important to understand the third-person narrator? 

You can guess what I’m going to say, like any aspect of literary theory, I believe that learning about narration will only enhance one’s enjoyment of a text. Understanding how a story is told will enable you to fully understand the story, and I believe that how a story is narrated can impact how much we enjoy the story. 

For example, I prefer stories that are told in the third-person. The third-person perspective is the most common perspective in fiction, which is why I chose to start with it as opposed to the first or second person. 

I prefer stories that are told in the third-person because I feel that readers get a broader scope of the stories. When a story is told in the first-person, we are only getting one perspective and while this isn’t a bad thing, I prefer it when a third-person narrator is telling me about events that they witnessed because I feel as though I see the story in a much broader, more nuanced way, and I see all sides of the story rather than just one. 

For example, if a character is in an argument, I think that a third-person narrator is more effective because we see the argument from the perspective of an uninvolved spectator – meaning we see both sides, rather than just getting one side of the story, which will always be biased. In saying that though, there are some wonderful advantages to a first-person narrative but I will discuss that in more detail when I am breaking down first-person narration. 

Narration, like setting, is a fundamental aspect of fiction because it cannot be overlooked. I don’t think you can discuss a story without thinking about how the story is told and by whom it is told. A really interesting question to think about when reading any text, or watching any movie is how would this story change if it was told by someone else? I think that many movies are tackling that question especially considering the fact that in the last few years we’ve seen retellings of classic stories from the villain’s point of view. Entire movies are being made about the villain’s side of the story, and audiences are being asked to decide if the villain is really a villain after all. An example of this would be the movie Maleficent and more recently, Cruella

That is why I think it is important to understand the different types of narration, because how a story is narrated greatly impacts the story and how audiences respond to it. 

This has been a breakdown of the third-person narrative. This has been Theory Thursday. If you have any questions please do let me know. Happy Friday Eve everyone. 

Kate xo. 

Setting.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I talked about some more poetic devices so go and check that out if you haven’t already. 

Today’s #theorythursday is all about setting. Where a text is set, (by text I am referring to any kind of piece – a book, a tv show, or a film), plays a very fundamental role in the text and when one is discussing a text or conducting a literary analysis of a text, setting is something that cannot be overlooked. 

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday. 

What is a setting? 

The setting is the time and place that the text takes place in. When one is thinking about the setting of a text, there are a few factors that should be kept in mind such as the climate, landscape, society, and culture. All of these factors serve as a backdrop to the text but they are not just a backdrop, these factors can be extremely important because of how they can influence a text. 

There are also elements to a setting. The four elements are time, mood, place, and cultural and societal contexts. These elements are important because they enrich the text, they make the world seem more tangible and real and it makes the story more accessible to the reader. 

I can think of so many examples of how the setting plays an important role in the story. The text that I am going to mention is Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. At some point in the future, this novel will be my chosen Book Of The Month and when that time comes I will be discussing it in far more detail, but for now I am going to simply say that this is a really good example of a text in which the setting plays a very important role in the story. 

In Oliver Twist, the setting of London is really important. I love Dickens, so much so that I wrote a thesis about his works, and one of the things I love so much about Dickens is his use of descriptive imagery. Dickens writes in a stark, and vividly detailed manner and in Oliver Twist, London is a world of its own. The slums of London is where most of the action happens. The slums are filthy and poverty stricken. The slums are dark, scary places where crime is commonplace. The slums are cold, gloomy, and there is very little hope in the slums. Oliver experiences many different “homes” in this text, he experiences the harsh life of a workhouse orphan, he experiences the cold and dangerous, crime filled slums and then he experiences life at Mr. Brownlow’s house. Mr. Brownlow’s house is clean and comfortable. It is a warm place filled with kind people who take care of him. There is money in that house. The difference is stark. The people who live in that house live a completely different life to those who live in the slums and Oliver’s fate depends on where he ends up. The difference is crucial. 

I mentioned how a setting has elements and factors – time, place, mood, societal/cultural contexts, landscapes, and climate. 

Well in Oliver Twist, we can see two very different worlds and those worlds have different factors and elements. 

The Brownlow house is warm, clean, comfortable, and safe. The people who live in that house are members of civilised society. They are refined, and mannerly. Their culture is a middle-class, law abiding one. 

The slums are freezing, and filthy. Poverty and crime are rampant. The people who live in the slums don’t have a chance because from the moment they are born, they are looked down upon due to being from the slums. They are surrounded by poverty, they are not considered members of civilised society, they are cast aside. Some are not law abiding, there is a culture of survival, of violence, of theft. 

In one text, Dickens has created two vastly different worlds, and those worlds, and the people in them, and what that will mean for Oliver, are all influenced and impacted by the setting. 

Why is setting important?

As I hope I have explained in the above example, the setting impacts and enriches the story. The setting helps ground the reader, and where a story is set can really help the reader to envision the world they are reading about. I would argue that a sentence such as this, “the filthy, freezing, dark alley in the slums.”, conjures up a certain image. I would argue that reading something like that would make you think of a place that isn’t very nice, and isn’t very safe, and if I was reading a story and came across that sentence, I would think that this is a place where something bad may happen to the character. So, as I’ve said already, the setting really can help the reader imagine the story more vividly and I would say that being able to do so enhances the reading experience. 

Setting is also very important when it comes to conducting a literary analysis because the setting of a story is considered to be a fundamental factor of fiction. I don’t think it would be possible to conduct a literary analysis without talking about where the story is set because the setting influences so many things. For example, you can’t read a text such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird without mentioning that it is set in the South in the 1930s because the entire book is about the prejudices and injustice of the Southern legal system. Oliver Twist is about the plight of an orphan, and Dickens sheds a light on the harsh realities that poverty stricken people faced and he couldn’t effectively make that point if he did not set the story in the slums because we need the filthy, gritty, harsh reality of the slums in order to see the harsh circumstances that poor Oliver must face. His plight wouldn’t have the same impact if he was always in the lovely Brownlow house, if he was always in that warm, safe house, he wouldn’t have a plight. So that is why setting is important, because it enriches and influences the text. 

This has been a breakdown all about setting. This has been Theory Thursday. If you have any questions then please do drop them in the comments below. I love hearing your thoughts and opinions. 

Kate xo. 

Poetic Devices – Chapter 2.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday.

Last week I talked about how to tackle nerves over public speaking and you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today’s #theorythursday is about more poetic devices. If you look through my categories and select Theory Thursday, you will find a post titled ‘Poetic Devices’, and in that post I broke down imagery, metaphors, personification, hyperboles, and onomatopoeia.

Today I am going to be breaking down four more poetic devices – Simile, Paradox, Assonance, and Alliteration.

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

Simile.

What is a simile?

A simile is when an author compares two objects very definitely, using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

An example of a simile can be found in the sentence ‘She is as good as gold.’

A poem that contains an example of a simile is A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose.

O my Luve is like the melody.

Quotes from A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns.

Paradox.

What is a paradox?

A paradox is a statement that obviously does not make sense or has no logic because it is a contradiction.

A famous example of a paradox was said by George Bernard Shaw when he said that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

An example of a paradox can be found in Seán O’Casey’s play The Shadow of a Gunman.

The child is father of the man.

A line from The Shadow of a Gunman, by Seán O’Casey.

Assonance.

What is assonance?

Assonance is the repeated use of vowel sounds.

Vowel sounds are represented by the letters A, E, I, O, and U.

An example of assonance can be found in the poem The Cold Wind Blows by Kelly Roper.

Who knows why the cold wind blows

A quote from The Cold Wind Blows, by Kelly Roper.

If you read this line aloud, then you will hear the use of assonance. It is the ‘o’ in ‘who’, the ‘ows’ in ‘knows’, the ‘o’ in ‘cold’, the ‘win’ in ‘wind’, and the ‘ows’ in ‘blows’.

When you say this line aloud, your mouth should make a circular shape as you say the vowels and you will find that you tend to naturally elongate your vowels.

I believe that assonance is one of those devices that becomes easier to recognise when you read a poem aloud.

Alliteration.

What is alliteration?

Alliteration is when words repeatedly begin with the same consonant.

An example of alliteration can be found in the sentence ‘The steep, stone steps.’ – S,S,S – alliteration.

An example of alliteration can be found in the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

While I nodded, nearly napping

A quote from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Why are these poetic devices important?

As always, I like to end Theory Thursday by talking about why the theory discussed above is important.

I will always maintain my belief that understanding enhances enjoyment.

It is not fun to be confused in class. It is not fun to be struggling with an essay that is due soon. It is not fun to be in a conversation about poetry when you feel lost and confused, and if you enjoy poetry then it is not fun when sometimes poetry and theory may seem inaccessible.

My goal with each Theory Thursday is to make aspects of literary theory accessible to anyone who wishes to access it. I could speak in highly academic and complicated language, and I could use really obscure examples but then I feel that my content would not be accessible.

I use everyday language and I use straightforward examples.

If you are a student, then I think these breakdowns will be really beneficial to you because you will need to understand literary theory in order to do your work and if you are not a student but you simply wish to broaden your knowledge, then these breakdowns allow you to do so in a quick and easy way.

The more we understand about literature, the less daunting literature becomes. When you begin to understand these devices then talking about poetry becomes easier and when it becomes easier, it becomes more enjoyable because now not only can you discuss it, but you can understand it on a deeper level. When you can understand something on a deeper level, then you may start to relate to it or it may move you and once this happens, literature becomes much more enjoyable because a poem is no longer simply words on a page. You are no longer scratching your head thinking what does this even mean? So that is why I believe that learning about literary theory and the poetic devices above is important because doing so broadens understanding and enjoyment of literature.

This has been Poetic Devices – Chapter 2. This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any questions feel free to drop them below.

Kate xo.

Public Speaking – How To Tackle Nerves.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday here on Katelovesliterature.com.

Last week’s #theorythursday was all about poetic devices so you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today’s #theorythursday is a little different and those of you who reached out to let me know that you find my public speaking centred content helpful should find today’s blog post very beneficial as today I am going to be talking about how to tackle the nerves that can come with public speaking.

Today’s post is a little less based in theory because instead I am giving you my own personal tips about dealing with nerves because over the years I have become very confident when it comes to public speaking, in fact I even enjoy it now. So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves why do we get nervous?

I have had friends and family members tell me that they do not understand how I enjoy public speaking because it makes them so nervous and I think a really good way to deal with nerves is to figure out what exactly you are nervous about.

Are you nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd?

Are you nervous about forgetting the material?

Are you worried that people won’t like what you have to say?

There are many reasons as to why people find public speaking challenging and all of those reasons are very valid but nerves don’t have to stop you. I would even say that sometimes nerves fuel me and with time, I think they will fuel you too.

So once I have figured out what exactly is making me nervous, I start to tackle those factors one by one.

So if I am nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd, the best thing I have learned to do over the years is to not look at the crowd. Instead, you should look above their heads.

Pick a spot on the back wall and that spot will be your focus spot. When you walk out onto the stage or to the podium or to wherever you may be speaking, look directly at your focus spot.

By looking over the audience’s heads, you are giving the impression that you are facing the crowd confidently but you are not actually making eye contact with anyone, and looking above people’s heads rather than looking directly at people will make the audience less daunting as it won’t feel as though so many eyes are on you.

This takes practice so I would recommend choosing a focus spot whenever you are practicing your speech. If you are in the venue or in a rehearsal room, or even if you are rehearsing at home, pick a focus spot and get into the habit of keeping your gaze on that spot while you are speaking.

Having a focus spot also makes it easier to remain concentrated for the duration of your speech because by looking above the audience, you are less likely to be distracted by any movements that may occur in the audience. People move, people take coats off, people take notes, some drink water, some leave to go to the bathroom, etc, etc. When you are already nervous, catching someone’s eye or seeing movement can distract you and cause you to stumble, which will in turn only make your nerves worse so that is why my first tip is to pick a focus spot that will help you get into the zone.

My next tip will sound very obvious but I am often surprised by how many people do not do this. Practice. You simply must practice your speech if you want to feel confident when giving it. If you are also nervous about forgetting your material, practicing will help tackle this area too because practicing means you are getting the words into your system and there will come a time when you know the speech in your sleep.

Practice your speech aloud. Take some time to see how long it takes to give the speech. You will figure out where you need to pause for breath or where you may need to have some water and the more you recite your speech aloud, the easier giving the speech becomes.

Another really good tip is to practice with people rather than always doing so by yourself. Ask a friend, ask a parent, ask a teacher, ask anyone you feel like asking if they could spare some time to listen to you recite your speech.

Reciting the speech to people you know helps in many ways.

It helps to tackle nerves about speaking in front of people because you are easing yourself into it by reciting the speech to someone you know and are comfortable with.

Practicing a speech in front of a friend gives you the opportunity to implement your new focus spot. You can pick a spot and look above their head and get used to doing so.

Practicing a speech in front of a friend is another chance to make sure you are confident that you know it and feedback is a great tool. Ask a friend or a family member to give you honest feedback. Find out if anything is confusing or boring or if they think you are talking too fast or too slow because it is always better to get feedback and amend things before the speech rather than having things you wished you had changed after the speech.

The thing about public speaking is that is it daunting but the only way to really get better at it is to keep doing it. Over time it will become easier.

Another thing that I like to do is use the nerves as fuel.

Over the years I have done a lot of public speaking. I did readings and speeches in school. I’ve done presentations in college, I have performed in many plays and even though it gets easier, I would never say that I am not at least a little bit nervous.

It is good to be a little bit nervous. It means you care. Without those butterflies, there is no magic in my opinion. That feeling before walking out before a crowd or that last moment before the curtain opens is a feeling that is like no other. It is adrenaline and I’ve grown to love it and instead of letting those nerves worry me and stop me, I’ve began to look at that feeling as a good thing. The nerves excite me and now they fuel me and I think this little change of mindset has been so beneficial.

It is okay to be nervous and no one should be hard on themselves about being nervous. The important thing is that we must not let the nerves beat us. We must not let them stop us from giving the speech and so that is why I feel viewing nerves as a good thing is really beneficial.

Another tip I have is that while it is important to practice, I also think a calm attitude before going onstage is so important. Do not overdo it right before you go on. Do not keep looking out to see how many people are there. Fight the urge to ask yourself whether you know the speech or not. Don’t start second-guessing yourself right before you are to begin. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Have some water and trust that by this point you have done the work. You have practised, you know your stuff, you have your focus spot, and these nerves are fuel.

Try to enjoy the speech and remember that even if you do make a mistake, no one in the audience knows. Only you know so if there are any mistakes, do not fret. Simply keep going as confidently as you can and no one will be any wiser.

Confidence is a mystery sometimes. There are times when I feel extremely confident and there are times when I do not feel one bit confident but no matter how I am feeling, I follow the steps that I have outlined above.

I stay calm. I take deep breaths. I drink water. I practice my speech alone and in front of friends. I have my focus spot. This little checklist has enabled me to become a very confident and very engaging public speaker and as I said, I would now go as far as to say that I actually enjoy public speaking because I enjoy the challenge, and I have started to view the nerves as fuel.

To anyone who is struggling with public speaking, especially those of you who have reached out to me to ask questions about it, the best piece of advice I can give is to keep trying. Keep at it. If it is something that you wish to become better at, then the best thing to do is to keep it up. Keep practicing because it will get easier and I hope that you will find today’s Theory Thursday beneficial.

If you have any questions about public speaking then please do drop a comment below because I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can.

This has been Theory Thursday.

Kate xo.

Poetic Devices.

Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings.

W.H Auden.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday.

The last time I talked about poetry, I specifically concentrated on sonnets and I broke down how a sonnet is constructed. You should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today I am going talk through some of the most common poetic devices that are used because when one is attempting to really understand and discuss poetry, understanding these poetic devices will be essential.

Writing poetry is a brilliant way to express feelings and share ideas. Poets choose words carefully, thinking about how they sound and what they mean and when deciding how to express oneself through poetry, there are a lot of factors to consider such as meter, form, structure, which techniques to use etc.

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

I am going talk about five poetic devices – Imagery, Metaphor, Personification, Onomatopoeia, and Hyperbole.

I have chosen these five poetic devices to start with because I believe these are some of the most common devices used so if you are someone who struggles with grasping poetry, starting with these basic devices will make it easier for you to start identifying these devices in poems that you read and being able to do so will enable you to understand and enjoy poetry on a deeper, more detailed level.

Imagery.

What is imagery?

Imagery is language (a word or a phrase) that paints a picture for the reader. The use of imagery should appeal to our senses – smell, sight, touch, and even taste. When the words create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind, it allows the poet’s intentions to become clearer.

An example of imagery can be found in the poem Rain, by Christy Ann Martine.

Clinging to the warmth of your fingertips as they press against the glass.

A quote from Rain, by Christy Ann Martine.

I chose this quote as an example of imagery because I think it really does demonstrate what imagery can do. This quote is so simple and yet it does paint a beautiful picture. You can easily imagine someone sitting by their window with their fingers pressed against the glass, leaving fingerprints so it will be easy to see where they have been sitting, looking out at the rainy day.

I really love imagery because I think even though everyone reads the same words, we all likely imagine something different. The window I imagine may look different to what someone else will imagine and that is where personal interpretation comes in and that is always fascinating.

Metaphor.

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is when a writer compares two different things without using the word like or as, (comparing two things with like and as is a simile and I will discuss this device at another time), metaphors are extremely common in poetry.

An example of a metaphor can be found in the poem The Night is a Big Black Cat, by G. Orr Clark.

The Night is a big black cat. The moon is her topaz eye.

A quote from The Night is a Big Black Cat, by G. Orr Clark.

I think that over time it becomes very easy to spot metaphors in poetry and it even becomes easy to use metaphors when we are speaking ourselves. If I say something like ‘She was a ghost today’, then I am using a metaphor to explain that someone looked really pale or unwell. People use metaphors all the time – Life is a rollercoaster etc, etc, etc.

Personification.

What is personification?

Personification is when a writer gives an object human characteristics.

A really well-known example of the use of personification can be found in the poem I wandered lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth. Some people may also refer to the poem as Daffodils.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud

A quote from I wandered lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth.

The very first line is an example of personification because Wordsworth has given a human emotion to an object – a cloud – a cloud is a thing, it cannot be lonely but Wordsworth has given this object this human emotion. It is also easy to picture one cloud floating in the sky, all by itself and perhaps it is a lonely cloud.

Onomatopoeia.

What is onomatopoeia?

To put it very simply, onomatopoeia is when a word sounds like what it is describing. So for example ‘The buzzing of the bees.” Think of words like ‘splash’, ‘crunch’, ‘buzz’, etc. All of these words sound like the thing they are describing. When you say the word ‘buzz’, the z sound in ‘buzz’ sounds like the noise a bee makes. It becomes easier to identify the use of onomatopoeia when reading a poem aloud.

An example of onomatopoeia can be found in the poem Water, by Fil Bufalo.

Waves crash rain falls

Pitter pitter pat pat

A quote from Water, by Fil Bufalo.

The word ‘crash’ is a great example of onomatopoeia because when you say it, you can almost hear the crashing of the sea.

Hyperbole.

What is a hyperbole?

A hyperbole is the use of rather extreme exaggeration for comedic or dramatic effect.

If one looks again at I wandered lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, an example of a hyperbole can be found in this poem too.

Ten thousand I saw at a glance.

A quote from I wandered lonely as a Cloud, by William Wordsworth.

Hyperboles also become easy to recognise and people often use hyperboles when speaking too, perhaps without even realising it. Think of sentences like ‘I told you a million times!” – When we say things like this, it is because we are stressing something that we have said very often, and even though we did not actually say it a million times already, we feel like we did so we use hyperboles to make our point.

Why is it important to understand these poetic devices?

If you are student who is struggling with poetry then these breakdowns should make grasping poetry in English class easier. If you do have to write about poetry in exams and in essays, having an understanding of poetic techniques is going to be such an asset to you when it comes to getting the grade you want.

If you are someone who enjoys poetry and would like to be able to discuss it in more detail then having an understanding of poetic techniques and devices that authors use, especially these really common ones, will enable you to discuss poetry in more detail and understand poetry on a more complex level.

I really believe that understanding literary theory and poetic devices allows us to understand poetry in more detail and having an understanding of the devices used will allow you to grasp what the poet is trying to convey and this will also deepen your personal interpretation of the poem. I think that when we can understand something on a deeper, more nuanced level it means that we can connect to it more and understand why it makes us feel the way we do and that is when poetry truly becomes enjoyable.

I love when I read a poem and it touches me. I love when a poem makes me emotional or makes think about something or someone and I love being able to talk about why I love poetry in detail – something I wouldn’t be able to do effectively if I didn’t understand poetic techniques and devices and so that is why I think it is important to learn about these things, because doing so allows us to enjoy literature on a deeper level.

This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions about these poetic devices then please do let me know and if poetry is your thing then make sure you keep coming back to Katelovesliterature.com because there are many more poetry discussions to come.

Kate xo.

Study Tips: Studying More Effectively In Less Time.

Hello everyone and welcome to another Theory Thursday. Today’s #theorythursday is perfect for those who are heading #backtoschool and #offtocollege because today I am sharing the study tips I live by. I am talking all about how to study more effectively in shorter periods of time. Want to know how I do it? Keep reading!

I love learning and I really value my education however I always found studying rather difficult. I don’t like how some exams measure intelligence based on how well someone remembers and regurgitates information. I don’t think that spewing information that you have learned off by heart onto a page is a fair reflection of your ability and intelligence and the reason I thrived so much in college is because in college, all of my exams were focused on my critical thinking skills, on my opinion of and understanding of different topics rather than simply reciting stuff however, we all do have to survive exams and so I am going to share how I do that.

Are you sick of studying for hours and hours only to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted with a headache on top? Do you feel like it doesn’t matter how long you study because you still don’t feel prepared? Pay attention because I am going to share my study tips, and these tips got me through college. I got several distinctions and I was always extremely happy with my grades but guess what, I only study for two hours or less at a time. Let’s dive in.

Replace endless hours with shorter, structured study sessions.

I think that sometimes people feel like they have to participate in a ‘who studied the longest’ contest. People think it is impressive to say that they studied all day or all night or that they never have any free time because they are studying. I say good for them if that is what they want to do, but personally I prefer having a healthy work/study/life balance. Let me share a secret, I never discuss my grades but I have often done just as well or even better that these people who are chained to their desks and I’ve spent less time studying. It’s not about how long you spend at the desk, it is about how productive you are while at the desk.

Structure your time. Have clear goals.

Pick a study slot. I like to study from 4-6.pm.

I like to have clear study goals for each session. I always set out two or three learning objectives for each session and my goal is that by the end of the two hours, I will understand the topics that I set out to understand. Having clear goals means I’m not studying for hours aimlessly. I have a task and I am using my time productively to complete that task.

Be realistic about your goals.

You will not learn ten things in one session and unrealistic goals will set you up for frustration and disappointment. That is why I would say have two or three goals per study session and then you can spend your time working through the topics you have chosen.

Good Notes = Easy Study.

If you put the time and effort into making your notes pleasing to look at, it will become easier when it comes to going over those notes. Write clearly and concisely. Don’t overcomplicate your notes. Make them easy to follow and easy to read and that way the content of your notes becomes easy to understand and easy to remember. Use different coloured pens for different topics. If the notes are boring to look at then you will be bored reading over them. Different coloured pens will also help you visualise your notes when you are trying to remember them.

Mind maps are your friend.

I always create mind maps (or spider diagrams, whatever you want to call them), I use them for study for exams and for essays – I will dedicate a separate Theory Thursday to essay writing tips alone.

I state the topic e.g. Shakespeare’s King Lear.

I state my learning objectives in the middle of the page e.g. I want to identify the play’s key themes. I want to select two key scenes that I will talk about. I want to breakdown Lear’s character.

If I am studying for two hours and I follow this mind map, I will spend 30 minutes on themes, 30 minutes on two key scenes, and 30 minutes on Lear’s character. This leaves me with 30 minutes left to go over all three topics or I can spend more time on one of these areas if I feel the need to.

At the end of this session, I ask myself do I understand the topics I set out to understand? Am I confident that I can talk about these three topics? If so, great. If not, I take note of what I feel I need to spend more time on e.g. themes, and then the next time I study one of my learning objectives will still be themes.

This leads me to my study method that I would say has three sections; plan, write, review.

Plan. Write. Review.

Planning comes when you get given an indication of what will be coming up on the exam. Some teachers give hints, when I was in college we were always given a rundown of what would be coming up because lecturers made it clear that they wanted exams to be about critical thinking and they did not want anyone to feel caught out. So if you have a fair idea of what topics you need to cover that is great, if you unfortunately have to guess, this method will still work but it means you have to do it a few more times.

For example, I once knew that all the plays I studied over the course of the module would be coming up on the exam except for the two that already came up on our mid-semester essay assignment. So that is two plays crossed off. I don’t need to study those two. Now, if every other play is going to come up and I know I will have two hours to answer two questions (usually one from a section A and one from a section B), then it is time for me to pick which two plays I am going to study.

I pick my plays. I outline all the things I will need to know. The playwright, when it was written, the setting, the characters, the themes, the structure, the techniques used, the message and the play’s importance, and finally my own interpretation and thoughts about the play.

Once I know my topic and what I need to know within that topic, I start to plan my study sessions and I plan how I will organise my notes.

Information about the play such as the playwright, when it was written, and where it is set will go on one page. These are basic facts and while they are important, the understanding I have of the play is more important.

Structure and themes will go together because as I have stated many times, how a story is structured can lend itself to the themes the story is presenting.

Characters get their own section. I figure out which character I will focus on because I don’t have time in the exam to focus on all of them. Maybe I’ll choose two and compare them. I will do the same with themes. I will identify what I interpret the most important theme to be and that will be the lens I write my answer through.

Once I have my plan, writing is next.

I create the mind map. I choose my two or three topics for one study session so for example I will sit down one evening and my goal for the end of the study session will be to understand the theme I am going to discuss, the techniques used in the play, and which character I will be discussing as my example.

In a different study session, I will plan to understand the play’s structure and I will choose one or two key scenes that I want to highlight in my answer to back up the points I’m making.

After writing comes reviewing.

After I create my mind map and write my notes, I move on to simply revising.

Once I am satisfied that I have covered all the topics I feel I need to, and I have made clear and easy to read notes on each topic, I then will take some time to read over these notes. I usually will be in this revising mode closer to the exam itself. The key is to do the heavy work earlier on and so when it comes close to the exam, I am simply reading over information that I already know and fully understand. When I put the notes together, I end up with a little booklet of study notes for each play.

This neat little booklet is clean, easy to read, and easy to understand. Each topic has it’s own page and it’s own coloured pen e.g. themes in blue, and this makes it so much easier to just read over my notes because everything is in the one place.

This may sound like an awful lot of work but it is all very manageable.

If I am studying two plays, I usually need two writing sessions for each one. The writing sessions is where most of the heavy work gets done because I am researching, reading, and highlighting in order to make my notes and then when that is done, I give myself two revising sessions for each play and like I said, these revising sessions tend to happen closer to the exam so I go in with the notes fresh in my memory.

So when you break it down, it is four study sessions for one exam.

This breakdown is how I studied for my exams while I was doing my BA. We usually had a two-week study period before exams. I usually had four or five exams at Christmas and then another four or five exams at the end of the semester in summer.

So if I had four exams and I knew I would give myself four study sessions for each one, that is sixteen study sessions.

I would use the first week as my writing notes week and the second week as my reading over notes week and then the four exams were spread out over a two-week period too so it meant that after one exam, there were days off in between the next one so you could read over notes for whatever exam was coming up next.

This study method really saved my mental health. I was no longer bored out of my mind flipping through pages for hours and hours. I was no longer feeling frustrated with myself thinking that I’d wasted my day. Our study breaks were over our Christmas break and it can be very hard to set aside study time over the Christmas holidays because family comes over and there are different events happening and I am tired after a long semester so I want some downtime to recharge too. I was not going to miss decorating the Christmas tree because I was sitting at my desk with a headache. This study method allowed me to really enjoy my Christmas break (if it is not obvious, I am referring to pre pandemic years where leaving the house and social activities were a much more regular occurrence.)

If I wanted to be able to sit down in the afternoon and watch a Christmas movie, I could, and then after a lovely day I would go upstairs and study for two hours. If I knew there was something happening in the evening, if I was going to see a Christmas panto, then I would get up and study from 11-1.pm and then I would be able to close my laptop and enjoy the rest of my day without feeling guilty or worrying that I should be studying and fretting because work is piling up and it is getting closer to the exam dates. Work did not pile up because I was organised and structured. The two hours I spent studying were highly focused and very productive. If I wanted to take a day off I could and then what I would do is do two study sessions the next day. I might study from 11-1.pm and then go for a nice walk and have some lunch, and then come back and do another session from 4-6.pm with a clear head and fresh eyes. I left my desk feeling proud of myself and confident in my work every time and I walked into every exam feeling confident and prepared – and my grades prove me and my methods right every time.

Obviously everyone is different and we all know how we learn. My methods may not work for some people, just like how some of my friend’s methods do not work for me but I am sharing my method because I guarantee that someone will find it helpful. I am not going to pretend that studying is fun, let’s face it, it is not fun. It can be stressful and many people struggle to study but over the last three years I feel that I have perfected a method that really works for me and I now feel so much more confident when I am preparing for exams and so if I can help even one person feel more confident too then sharing my tips will have been worth it. I don’t think I will ever find studying fun but I have found a way to make it a much less stressful experience and I hope these tips help you do that too.

This has been Theory Thursday. These have been my study tips that I swear by. Are you like me where you study in shorter sessions? Have you figured out any study hacks that you’ve found really do make a difference? Let me know in the comments below.

Kate xo.