Tag Archives: maps

The writer of lectures…or at least lesson plans

Week one of Fall 2011. Teaching has begun.

One of my favourite things to do is to prepare new lectures, which is a darned good thing because I’m teaching that new course this term and I have to prepare every lecture from scratch. I love the assembling of materials, the careful reading of the texts, the glossing of meanings and the noting of stylistic effects. I like forming an interpretation and putting the literary work in context. Oh, yes, that’s why I’m an English professor. I LOVE this stuff! But today I’m also remembering how long lectures/classes take to research, organize, write up at least in point form. As well, I’m making some nifty presentations with visuals. In this course—Global English Literatures—I need a lot of maps. So today I am grabbing stuff from the internet and designing PowerPoint slides. Not too many, just some eye candy.

1886 British Empire Map

Question: when you grab an image off Google images, drop it in your slide and it’s too big (head cut off, for instance), how can you make the image smaller so that it will fit your slide? Huh? I’m spending way too much time on this kind of thing. The other day I spent at least an hour figuring out how to embed a YouTube video in a slide. Worked like a charm on my computer/s; but the link in the slide wouldn’t connect to the internet during the presentation. And    no   one   seems   to    know    why    not.   Grrrr.

Today’s lesson (actually next Monday’s lesson) will be on British imperialism in general and colonial India in particular. The two literary works we’ll be studying will be Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” (yes, I know, dear old Kipling gets a bad rap and this poem is, as Arlequino points out, probably his least representative work) and Wilkie Collins’s essay “A Serman for Sepoys.” Very cool stuff. The challenge will be to complicate the obvious themes of both by making Kipling look less like an imperialist goon and Collins less like a friend of the colonized.


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A difficult article

My research this summer has marked a shift in my life as a thinker. Always writing about life writing, I’m now writing about something closer to home. My mother’s experiences of being a child in Germany during the second world war. What’s so special about her story?, you ask, knowing that millions of Germans were children during the war. Well they had a very particular experience that has not been talked about much here in Canada. It’s not widely known. Immigrants (like us) who came to Canada to leave difficult histories of Europe behind don’t want to remember. My mother, as well as my grandmother and great-grandmother, were just three of the millions who were forcibly expelled from their homes in the Eastern zones in 1945. They had lived in Hammermuhle, a village near Stolp in Pommerania. That land is now Poland. The Russians were advancing on them. They had to leave. They were Fluchtlinge (refugees). They travelled by train, boat and on foot almost 500 km to the West.

Mum was born in 1932. This is a map from 1932. This was her world. Of course you can’t read this map. And can hardly write this article, but I also cannot stop writing it.

A version of this map hangs on a wall in my mother’s house. Hers came from her school text book. She never went back to school after the expulsion and resettlement, so her school map is from her primary school days. Hers is in colour! And has traces of her pen marks on it. It’s a family heirloom. Her  mother must have saved it, hung on to it, and then gave it to my mother at some point. She saved it. Folded up between the covers of a book. Several years ago my father had it art-framed with special glass that will prevent it from fading. It is the only object I want to inherit from my mother when she passes. I will keep it safe.


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